Productizing Schokolade

“Chocolate is life.” 

“Chocolate is healthy.”

“Schokolade ist ausgezeichnet.”

“Chocolate is better than ___.”

 All truisms that we all know.  So how about “Chocolate is tough to make?”

Ok, I’m the first to admit that I had never considered this until I visited Schokoladenmuseum Köln– The Chocolate Museum in Cologne, Germany (http://www.chocolatemuseum-cologne.com/).  For €7.50 one gets to learn about cocoa bean cultivation, transport, history and impact on society.  The really impressive thing is how anyone ever figured out how to make chocolate at all–the bean in its native state is basically inedible and there was, and still is, basically no infrastructure in the regions of the world that grow cocoa to make chocolate.  How someone–hopefully an engineer but more likely a clever marketeer– figured out the extremely complex process to turn the cocoa mass into something edible, much less some delectable, is beyond my ken.

Little known fact-oid I picked up from the museum: 75% of the cocoa farmers and workers have never tasted chocolate.

But for an engineer like me the best part (OK besides the free samples) was the Lindt mini-factory in the museum. Because someone at Lindt has done a sensational job of productizing chocolate.  The assembly line in the museum is superbly industrialized and 100% automated, and this can’t be easy because chocolate is really tough to handle and very fussy about temperature and texture and being abused too much and…

Even more impressive however were some of the 19th century through mid 20th century pieces of equipment. Before software control, CNC machining, six-sigma design and Boothroyd & Dewhurst.  Before I was born (OK so these are really old).  Two machines are shown here: an 1899 cocoa butter press (brown) and a 1948 wrapping machine (blue).  Which just goes to show that all that is good is not new.  And that when properly motivated–undoubtedly with chocolate truffles–productization engineers can accomplish almost anything.

Auf wiedersehen,

Chuck

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