When we see candy, we know that it will have a sweet and pleasing taste. But candy is designed to appeal to all your senses, to connect with the child inside you that wants to pick up something colorful and put it in their mouth. Candy is serious business, crafted with cutting edge design.
A few years back, the internet was swept with the Tide Pod Challenge. What started as a joke became a real phenomenon, as young people filmed themselves ingesting the laundry detergent packets. While it was as ridiculous as many other internet trends, it also indicated something about Tide Pods: they looked like candy. They are bite-sized, with bright colors, a smooth and shiny surface, a gentle rounded shape, a soft texture… according to anthropologists, Tide Pods present all the sensual cues of something that would be delicious to eat, and those cues collectively overwhelm our factual knowledge that this isn’t, in fact, food.
If design and presentation alone can make people want to eat laundry detergent, it’s no wonder that candy remains incredibly appealing to the senses, even for adults who know it’s unhealthy, and maybe doesn’t even taste that good. Candy designers work with shape, texture, color, fragrance, and flavour to make their product absolutely irresistible.
Colors of Candy
Probably the first thing you notice about candy is the color. Candy shops take advantage of this, arranging eye-catching displays that fascinate children and adults alike. If you’ve read our blog post on the power of color, you know that color powerfully affects our moods and emotions. Color is also an indicator of what the flavor will be, setting our expectations. With most candy, color and flavor bear little causal relationship, allowing manufacturers to turn up the color, surprise us with color and flavor combinations, and produce seasonal colors for holidays like Christmas or Halloween.
Today, consumers want those bright and vivid colors, but they want natural food colorings, which poses a set of unusual challenges for confectioners and candy designers. Natural food colorings, like those derived from beets, turmeric, or matcha, have several disadvantages for companies and consumers:
- They are less consistent
- They have shorter shelf life
- There are fewer color options
- They react to heat, pH, oxygen, and other factors
Natural colors also pose some challenges for labeling. As pointed out in this article, if spinach is added to a soup to produce a green color, the consumer will accept that ingredient on their food labeling. However, if spinach is added to a jelly bean to produce a green color, even if it doesn’t affect the flavor, the consumer tends to have a negative reaction.
The desire for colors that are vivid and appealing, and yet also natural and organic, affects many industries, and companies are actively looking for chemists and technologists who can develop new methods of coloring candy.
Shapes of Candy
Product shape is as distinctive a brand mark as any other. The shape of a Toblerone or a Hershey’s Kiss is so strongly tied to the brand that these shapes are trademarked. In the past, candy shapes were largely determined by their production process, whether candy was drop rolled, extruded, panned, or pulled. Molding candy into specific shapes has been done for centuries, but today’s advanced materials and 3D prototyping technologies are creating whole new fast and affordable ways to make unique and complex candy molds. In fact, a few months ago, Belgian chocolate giant Barry Callebaut created a digital experience that allows professionals and consumers to design and print custom 3D chocolate forms. The project represents an amazing blend of understanding the structural properties of chocolate, advanced 3D prototyping technologies, and people’s desire for unique, custom, Instagram-able food experiences. These kinds of projects represent the tip of the iceberg for what might be possible when confectionary meets industrial design.
Packaging of Candy
If color and shape have enormous impact on the consumer’s perception, candy packaging is the coup de grâce. The packaging needs to appeal to our inner child just as much as the contents do, and every phase of candy packaging and marketing is closely observed by trained consumer behavior analysts to trigger the best response. Graphic designers, packaging engineers, and brand managers work hard to make packaging that is appealing as possible, with new initiatives to make packaging that is also natural and sustainable.
Candy offers a unique value proposition to the consumer. Its deep association with childhood, fun, and play makes it appeal to consumers of all ages, and its affordable price point means that people are highly motivated to “treat themselves” in both times of stress and struggle, and times of happiness and celebration. The design, packaging, and marketing of candy will only get more specialized and more sophisticated over time, making the product that much more irresistible. This also makes candy an extremely stable career field, with opportunities for fun and exciting work with huge growth potential. For more information about staffing and recruiting for jobs in chocolate or candy design, contact Grapefrute today.