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Jawbreakers. The candy industry’s legacy to the Animal Control Services profession.

Enough said. Now on to discover the unmitigated joy (and sense of frustration) that includes the jawbreaker experience.

Sugar was not available in Egypt; the first written record about its availability was found around 500 CE, in India. India passed the practice of making sugar from the boiled syrup of the sugarcane plant to the Arabs who introduced, around 1100 CE, sugar to Europe. Originally, sugar was thought of as a spice and until the 15th century, was used only medicinally, doled out in minuscule doses, due to its extreme rarity. From the 16th century, due to wide-ranging sugar cultivation and improved refining methods, sugar was no longer thought of as such a rare commodity. At this point, primitive candies were being made in Europe, but by the end of the 18th century, candy-making machinery was producing more complex candies in much larger quantities.

When sugar is cooked at a high temperature, it becomes completely crystalized and becomes hard candy. The jawbreaker, very definitely a hard candies, was very much alike to a number of candies popular in mid-19th century America. From the middle of the 18th century, there were nearly 400 candy factories producing penny candy in the United States.

Founded in 1919, the Ferrari Pan Candy Company, the brainchild of Salvador Ferrari and his two brothers-in-law, specialized in candies made with the hot pan and cold pan procedure. Ferrari Pan now specializes in the creation of its original Jaw Breakers, as well as Boston Baked Beans and Red Hots. Although there are many manufacturers of jawbreakers today in the 21st century, such as NestlĂ©’s Willy Wonka Candy Company and the Scones Chocolate Organization, Ferrari Pan is still the most prolific manufacturer of pan candies across the world.

Jawbreakers, also referred to as gob stoppers (from the British slang: gob for the mouth and stopper as into block an opening), belong to a category of hard candy where every candy, usually round, ranges in size from a tiny 1/4″ ball to a enormous 3-3/8″. The surface, as well as the inside, of a jawbreaker is incredibly hard and not meant for anyone with a sensitive mouth.

Let us get down to the nitty-gritty of the hot pan procedure for candy making. It takes 14 to 19 days to create one jawbreaker, from one grain of sugar to the finished product. A batch of jawbreakers tumbles constantly in enormous spherical copper kettles over a gas fire. The kettles or pans all have a wide opening or mouth.

There are five basic steps used in creating jawbreakers.

Each grain of sugar will turn into a jawbreaker as the crystallization process proceeds; other grains crystallize around it in a spherical pattern. The panner ladles hot liquid sugar into the pan along its edges. In a seemingly endless endeavor, the panner continues to add additional liquid sugar to the pans at intervals over a time period of 14 to 19 days, with the pot rotating . It is possible for liquid sugar to be added to the pan over 100 times in that 14 to 19 days. Either the panner or another employee creatively examines, at intervals, the jawbreakers to ensure there are no abnormalities in the shape of the candy.

Adding other ingredients Just the outer layers of most types of jawbreakers have coloring. Just when the jawbreakers have attained almost their completed, target size does the panner add the predetermined color and flavorings to the edge of the pan. As the kettle continues to rotate, all the jawbreakers get equally”dressed” with color and flavor.

Polishing When the jawbreakers have reached their optimal size, after about two weeks, they move from the hot pan to a polishing pan. Hot pans and polishing pans seem very much alike. At this time, the jawbreakers are set to rotate in their polishing pan. Another panner adds food-grade wax into the pan so that each candy gets polished as the pan . Once polished, the jawbreakers are finished and ready to be packaged.

Measuring The finished jawbreakers are loaded on a tilted ramp where the candy colours can be evenly mixed. Small batches of this jawbreakers roll down the ramp and fall to a central chute. Each tray holds only a predetermined weight of the jawbreakers (i.e. 80 oz or 5 pounds.) When that weight is attained, the tray swings out of the way so the next tray may load. When the top trays reach their weight load, the bottom trays drop their jawbreakers to the bagging machine.

Bagging A huge machine holding a broad spool of thin plastic on a revolving drum is used to mechanically bag the jawbreakers. The machine forms bags of plastic, fills them with jawbreakers, and then seals the bags. The filled bags are now in the final stage of production. All that’s left to do is to place these finished bags into packaging boxes and off to market they move.

Word of warning: Jawbreakers are meant to be sucked upon, not bitten into, unless you fancy the broken tooth look.

Jawbreaker Trivia

A jawbreaker can be as large as a golf ball or as little as a candy sprinkle.

When a jawbreaker is broken open, you may see dozens upon dozens of sugar levels that look like the concentric rings of an old tree viewed in cross-section.

A jawbreaker is not created for the anxious person who’s always in a rush. It may take hours to satisfactorily consume a jawbreaker. Remember: suck, lick, whatever but do not try to bite through the layers. Jawbreakers are made of crystallized sugar which, at times, can be considered the exact same tooth-shattering hardness as concrete.

There have been at least two documented occasions where a jawbreaker has exploded spontaneously, leaving its consumer with serious burns requiring hospitalization. One explosion involved a 9-year-old woman from Florida. She’d abandoned her jawbreaker sitting in direct sunlight and when she took her first lick, the jawbreaker exploded in her face, leaving her with severe burns on several regions of her body. The other explosion happened on the site of the Discovery Channel’s television program MythBusters when a microwave oven has been used to illustrate it can cause unique layers compressed inside a jawbreaker to heat at different rates and thus exploding the jawbreaker, causing a massive spray of exceedingly hot candy to splatter in a vast area. MythBusters sponsor Adam Savage and another crew member were treated for mild burns.

Happy licking!

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