Whether it is bright strings of lights, decorated Christmas trees or the well-stocked sweet section of the supermarket, Christmas is unmistakably just around the corner. The food industry supplies chocolate to fit the season in the widest range of shapes, including the popular chocolate Santas. But how are cocoa, sugar and other ingredients actually made into a Father Christmas?
Previously pure manual labour
When the first hollow chocolate Father Christmases were produced around 130 years ago, the method was much more intricate than today. The first moulds were made of tin-plated metal. The two halves, one of them filled with liquid chocolate, were held together with catches and turned by hand until the chocolate was evenly distributed all over. The sealed moulds were then stored in a cool area until the chilled figure could be removed.
Mass production with automation technology
Even today there are still manufacturers that make at least some of their chocolate figures by hand. This is particularly the case with multi-coloured figures and unusual shapes. In the meantime, in Germany alone around 9,000 tonnes of chocolate a year are made into over 160 million chocolate Santas in total. These quantities can only be achieved with the help of automation technology.
First of all, the chocolate mass is produced in the factory. For this purpose, cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar and whole milk powder are mixed and then stirred for about 10 hours at 55° C. After that, the production facility automatically fills a precisely defined amount of chocolate into one half of the Father Christmas moulds. Once the second half has been snapped shut, the chocolate is evenly distributed by the centrifugal force generated when spun, resulting in a hollow body. Once they have cooled down, the finished figures are extracted by suction grippers using compressed air and placed onto a conveyor belt. Only the transfer from the conveyor belt to the wrapping machine is done manually, with the wrapping in the printed aluminium foil once again been done automatically.
After the packaging process it is just a short journey to the supermarket shelves, where the sweet Santas wait for the chocolate lovers.