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Jawbreakers. The candy industry’s heritage to the Animal Removal profession. There probably is not another candy anywhere that has the exceptional hardness of a jawbreaker or possibly as high of a sugar content.

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

Ancient Egyptians used honey, sweet fruits, spices, and nuts to prepare their candies. Sugar was not available in Egypt; the first written record about its accessibility was found around 500 CE, in India. Originally, sugar was considered to be 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 considered to be such a rare commodity. At this time, crude candies were being made in Europe, but by the end of the 18th century, candy-making machines was producing more intricate candies in much larger amounts.

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

The jawbreaker rose to prominence because of the efforts of the Ferrari Pan Candy Company in Forest Park, Illinois. Founded in 1919, the Ferrari Pan Candy Company, the brainchild of Salvador Ferrari and his two brothers-in-law, specialized in candy made with the hot pan and cold pan process. Ferrari Pan currently specializes in the production of its first Jaw Breakers, as well as Boston Baked Beans and Red Hots. Although there are lots of manufacturers of jawbreakers now in the 21st century, such as NestlĂ©’s Willy Wonka Candy Company and the Scones Candy Company, Ferrari Pan remains the most prolific manufacturer of pan candies across the world.

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

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

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 borders. At a seemingly endless endeavor, the panner continues to add additional liquid sugar into the pans at intervals over a time period of 14 to 19 days, with the kettle rotating nonstop. Either the panner or another worker visually 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 reached almost their finished, target size does the panner add the predetermined color and flavorings to the edge of the pan. As the pot continues to rotate, all the jawbreakers get evenly”dressed” with color and taste.

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

Measuring The final jawbreakers are loaded on a tilted ramp where the candy colors can be equally mixed. Small batches of this jawbreakers roll down the ramp and fall to a central chute. The jawbreakers continue their journey by falling into trays arranged on spiral arms of the central chute. When that weight is attained, the tray swings out of the way so that the next tray may load. When the top trays reach their weight load, then the bottom trays drop their jawbreakers into the bagging machine.

Bagging A large machine holding a wide spool of thin plastic onto a revolving drum is used to automatically bag the jawbreakers. The machine forms bags of plastic, fills them with jawbreakers, and then seals the bags. The filled bags are currently in the final stage of production. All that is left to do is to place these finished bags into packing boxes and away to market they move.

Word of warning: Jawbreakers are intended 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 split open, you may see dozens upon dozens of sugar layers which look very much like the concentric rings of an old tree viewed in cross-section.

A jawbreaker isn’t intended for the anxious person who’s always in a rush. It may take hours to adequately consume a jawbreaker. Recall: suck, lick, whatever but don’t try to bite through the layers. Jawbreakers are made of crystallized sugar that, occasionally, can be considered the exact same tooth-shattering hardness as concrete.

There have been at least two documented occasions where a jawbreaker has burst spontaneously, leaving its customer with serious wounds requiring hospitalization. One explosion involved a 9-year-old woman from Florida. She had abandoned her jawbreaker sitting in direct sun and when she took her first lick, the jawbreaker exploded in her face, leaving her with severe burns on many regions of her body. The other explosion happened on the website of the Discovery Channel’s television program MythBusters when a microwave oven was used to exemplify it can cause unique layers compressed inside a jawbreaker to heat at different rates and so exploding the jawbreaker, causing a huge spray of hot candy to splatter in a vast place. MythBusters host Adam Savage and another crew member were treated for light burns.

Happy licking!

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