Have you ever wondered how the letters into lettered rock candy, how the BLACKPOOL gets into Blackpool Rock candy? Well here's how. Seaside rock candy is still made in the traditional way. The rock is hand made by a practiced craftsman called a Sugar Boiler. You will see with the amount of "toffee" needed to form the rock that we cannot make the rock in single bars we have to make a minimum of 100 sticks.
The Sugar & Glucose is Boiled
A large copper pan to boil up the sugar & glucose. This is heated to approximately 300 degrees centigrade. This is a very dangerous mixture as it is very hot and will cause very severe burns to skin.
Cool & Divide
When the sugar mixture reaches the required temperature the contents of the copper pan is tipped onto a cooling table. The mixture is then divided into the various parts required to make the lettered rock bar. These parts are the inner core, the parts for the letters, the outer wrap, and filler rock.
Aerating the centre & flavoring
Some of the mixture is taken to another machine to be aerated & flavored. The aeration is to give the rock its traditional texture and density. The entire batch of rock has to be the same flavor. This is going to be the core of the rock. Rock Candy can be flavored with all sorts from fruit flavors to chocolate!
Colouring the rock
The remainder of the toffee is mixed with colour. This will become the outer casing of the rock and in this case is going to be a colourful striped rock bar. This is also the point at which the rock for the coloured letters is produced. When promotional rock bars are made the casing is made to match corporate or team colours. However a perfect colour match isn't always possible as the colours are made by mixing food colours (not printing inks).
Lettering the rock
Next the letters are formed. By layering strips of coloured & white toffee the letters are built. By varying the colour of the strips of toffee the colour of rock lettering can be varied, even each letter can be a different colour. This is a skill that can take many years to master, sometimes 10 years. It takes a real craftsman to get the letters correct as the coloured rock and its fillers can be up to 6 feet long. The letters are each made individually and then stuck together in a line. For example if you are making Blackpool Rock the the words Blackpool and Rock have to be made and then extra white rock added to fill in between the two words.
Lettering & Core put together
Next the core of the rock and the rock lettering are put together. To assist with holding the rock together water is wiped over the surface of the rock and this softens the sugar and allows it to bond the two surfaces. This forms the main part of the rock bar, but work is required to complete the circle and fully encase the core.
Rock outer casing
The strips of toffee are put together in the correct order to make the casing of the rock. Once again the surfaces of the rock are moistened to allow them to bond together.
The huge lump of rock is put into a machine called a batch roller, this helps to keep it's shape. See the huge lump of toffee. This is why one personalised stick of rock cannot be made. A whole batch of rock has to be created. As you can see the huge lump is created to have a taper on it so that it is easier to put in the pulling machine.
The rock is pulled
The rock is then pulled into long strings. A device not unlike a pair of scissors called shears are used to cut the rock into the length required. At this point the rock is still being kept warm as it has to be throughout the whole process. This is accomplished by heating the bed that the rock sits on. This bed can also be cooled to enable the rock to be hardened to assist in packaging.
Wrapping the rock
Finally the rock is wrapped and is ready for sale.