It’s tempting to assume that the sweets we eat, and to a lesser extent the chocolate, has always just been around forever, but how are sweets made? There are a shockingly small number of brand new products that enter the market on any given year, considering the brand recognition and power of many of our favourites like, for example, Percy Pigs or Jolly Ranchers.
More likely is that companies will innovate within an existing brand or product and bring out a new flavour or variation. Think different flavours of Jolly Rancher or different variations of Reese’s Pieces.
In fact, the original Hershey bar, or Mars Bar, are almost 100 years old now, and yet there’s not been a large amount of new innovative products hitting the UK market since the 80’s.
We’re now seeing something of a revolution in the UK with the introduction of more access to the US candy market, with things like Kool Aid, Hershey’s and Reese’s, but largely the UK gave up in the 80’s.
With that in mind, what exactly does it take to come up with a new product?
This is how sweets are made
Food design, broadly, is the discipline which would be used to design new food products such as sweets, chocolates, sodas. It’s a career that has developed into a deeply scientific process over the years, taking in things such as biology, anthropology, psychoanalysis, sociology, nutrition and environmentalism.
If that sounds complicated, that’s because it is a complicated process. From conception to trial, there are almost unlimited different aspects to consider before placing it on sale on the shelves. Does the food look good? Does it smell good? Is the packaging right? Is the shape right?
According to Dr. Francesca Zampollo of International Food Design Society, says that “Food Design is, simply, the connection between food and Design. Food Design is the design process that leads to innovation on products, services or systems for food and eating: from production, procurement, preservation, and transportation, to preparation, presentation, consumption, and disposal. Food Design is the process that brings deliberate and reasoned innovation of function, technology, or meaning on anything that has to do with food or eating”
The process of imagining, designing, and creating chocolate isn’t an easy one, and the first thought has to go to which ingredients will work well together. This process is the first step towards creating a product, and different sugars, colours, sherberts and other ingredients need to be thought about.
The second stage is thinking about the texture of the product and whether it will require things like gelatine, or gelatine replacements, and other ingredients to make it either chewy, or soft, or tougher.
The psychology of colour is also incredibly important, too as colours such as blue indicate calmness, freshness, whilst red indicates spice and aggression, for example.
Once you have a great tasting product there’s then the name to think of. Some of the most iconic names in candy and confectionary are super simple. The Milky Way, The Mars Bar, Snickers, for example. It has to be memorable and it has to portray the feeling or emotion of the product you want to convey. Space names, such as Mars or Milky Way indicate a smoothness, for example.
In today’s age of sustainable and ethically sourced foods it’s also important to think about the ingredients you’re using and whether you want to use Vegan or environmentally friendly ingredients, depending on your market.
Finally, but probably the most important stage, is the packaging. According to Cad Crowd, these are the two most important things you need to think about:
- Building loyalty: Customers need to recognise and stick with the product, and they need to be able to remember exactly who you are and what you sell.
- Telling the story: “Proper packaging can share the story, helping customers see at a glance whether your food is a party in a bag, pure and healthy, or fresh and down to Earth.”