Jawbreakers. The candy industry’s legacy to the dental profession. There probably is not another candy anywhere that has the exceptional hardness of a jawbreaker or maybe as large of a sugar content.
Enough said. On to discover the unmitigated joy (and sense of frustration) that comes with the jawbreaker experience.
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, as a result of wide-ranging sugar cultivation and improved refining procedures, sugar was no longer thought of as 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 complex candies in much larger amounts.
When sugar 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 almost 400 candy factories making penny candy in america.
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 now specializes in the creation of its original Jaw Breakers, along with Boston Baked Beans and Red Hots. Although there are many manufacturers of jawbreakers today in the 21st century, such as Nestlé’s Willy Wonka Candy Company and the Scones Candy Company, Ferrari Pan remains the most prolific manufacturer of pan candies throughout the world.
Jawbreakers, also known as gob stoppers (from 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 around, ranges in size from a tiny 1/4″ ball to a massive 3-3/8″. The surface, in addition to the interior, of a jawbreaker is incredibly hard and not intended for anyone with a sensitive mouth.
Let us 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 produce a single jawbreaker, from one grain of sugar into 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.
Pouring the sugar A panner (the worker who uses the pans or kettles to make candy) pours granulated sugar into a pan as a gas flame preheats the pan. Each grain of sugar will become 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. The jawbreakers begin to increase in size as the liquid sugar attaches itself to the sugar grains. In a seemingly endless endeavor, the panner continues to add extra liquid sugar to the pans at intervals over a time span of 14 to 19 days, with the pot rotating nonstop. It’s 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 Only the outer layers of most types of jawbreakers have coloring. Only 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 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 look very much alike. At this time, the jawbreakers are set to rotate in their polishing pan. Another panner adds food-grade wax to the pan so that each candy gets 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 colours can be equally mixed. Small batches of the jawbreakers roll down the ramp and fall to a central chute. The jawbreakers continue their journey by falling into trays organized on spiral arms of the central chute. Each tray holds only a predetermined weight of the jawbreakers (i.e. 80 ounce or 5 pounds.) When that weight is reached, the tray swings out of the way so 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 big machine holding a broad spool of thin plastic onto a revolving drum is used to mechanically bag the jawbreakers. The filled bags are currently in the final stage of production. All that’s left to do is to put these completed bags into packaging boxes and away to market they move.
Word of warning: Jawbreakers are intended to be sucked upon, not bitten into, unless you fancy the chipped tooth appearance.
A jawbreaker can be as big as a golf ball or as small as a candy sprinkle.
When a jawbreaker is split open, you will 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 is not intended for the anxious person who is always in a hurry. It can take hours to adequately consume a jawbreaker. Remember: suck, lick, whatever but do not try to bite through the layers. Jawbreakers are made of crystallized sugar which, occasionally, can be considered the same tooth-shattering hardness as concrete.
There have been at least two reported events where a jawbreaker has exploded spontaneously, leaving its customer with severe burns requiring hospitalization. 1 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 many areas of her body. The other explosion happened on the website of the Discovery Channel’s television program MythBusters when a microwave oven has been used to exemplify it can cause different layers compressed inside a jawbreaker to heat at different rates and thus 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.