Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Fingerprints Of A Candy Bar

Now that it's getting close to Halloween, candy is everywhere at the grocery store. As a kid, you never realize how expensive Halloween candy is. When you have to start handing it out or buying it for yourself, then you take notice. Last week Kroger had a great sale on Mars products, so my wife and I decided to stock up. (Or, if you're like us, you wait until the week after a major holiday to stock up on candy.)
My Milky Way Fun Size bar
All too often I like to celebrate the minutiae in life. It sometimes feels like I'm living out all of my favorite scenes from Seinfeld. So, when I cracked open a few Milky Way fun size bars last week, I noticed the set of grooves that runs across the bottom of the bar. The grooves almost look like the electrocardiogram tracing on an EKG monitor, or tire treads, or better yet, closely resemble a fingerprint of sorts for each bar.

My Snickers Mini
After my own hypothesis, I discovered I wasn't far off. I found that "Any chocolate with a pattern like that on the bottom of the piece has been placed on a patterned, plasticized fabric belt when the chocolate was wet and run through a cooling tunnel." Most of the Mars company's bars have the same pattern, and for the most part, these patterns seem to be something that Mars  Some bars have personalized logos like that found on the bottom, like the Bounty bar manufactured by Mars in the United Kingdom. The (now discontinued) 3 Musketeer Truffle Crisp even had a floral-like pattern on the bottom of its bars.

3 Musketeer Truffle Crisp - Liz Gutman, Serious Eats
Author Steve Almond apparently examines this subject further in his book Candy Freak, and you can see the large conveyor belts that are said to give the bars their bottom patterns in this video tour of the Mars manufacturing facility in Chicago. (For any transit geeks out there, Mars even has a station stop named for the facility on the Milwaukee District / West Line of the Metra rail system.)

The Chew on ABC
So as we get to Halloween, check out the bottom of your candy bars. See if they've got some unique patterns on them. I'm sure most people probably never notice these patterns, let alone wonder their origin. Sometimes it's just fun to examine the little things in life. And to eat candy bars.