Jaw crusher. The legacy of the candy industry to the dental profession. There is probably no other candy anywhere that has the exceptional hardness of a jawbreaker or possibly as high a sugar content.
Enough talk. Now, discover the sheer joy (and sense of frustration) that comes with amazing experience.
The ancient Egyptians used honey, sweet fruits, spices, and nuts to prepare their sweets. Sugar was not available in Egypt; the first written record of its accessibility was found around 500 CE, in India. India passed the practice of making sugar from the boiled syrup of the sugarcane plant to the Arabs who introduced sugar to Europe around 1100 CE. Originally, sugar was considered a spice and, until the 15th century, it was used only for medicinal purposes, in small doses, due to its extreme rarity. By the 16th century, due to the wide variety of sugar crops and improved refining methods, sugar was no longer considered such a rare commodity. At this point, raw candy was being made in Europe, but by the end of the 18th century, candy-making machinery was producing more complex candy in much larger quantities.
When sugar is cooked at a high temperature, it fully crystallizes and becomes a hard candy. Jawbreaker, definitely a hard candy, was much like a number of sweets popular in America in the mid-1800s. Hard candies were generally sold by the single piece; the shopkeeper took out, from a showcase or jar, the desired number of pieces. By the mid-18th century, there were nearly 400 candy factories producing penny candy in the United States.
The jawbreaker rose to fame through the efforts of the Ferrari Pan Candy Company in Forest Park, Illinois. Founded in 1919, the Ferrari Pan Candy Company, the brainchild of Salvador Ferrari and his two brothers-in-law, specialized in candies made with the hot pan and cold pan process. Ferrari Pan now specializes in producing its original Jaw Breakers, as well as Boston Baked Beans and Red Hots. Although there are many jawbreakers now in the 21st century, such as Nestlé’s Willy Wonka Candy Company and Scones Candy Company, Ferrari Pan remains the most prolific maker of pan candy in the entire world.
Jawbreakers, also known as gob stoppers (from British slang: gob for a mouth and stopper to block an opening), belong to a category of hard candy where each usually round candy ranges in size from a tiny 1/4″ ball to a massive 3-3/8″. The surface, as well as the interior, of a jawbreaker is incredibly hard and is not designed for people with a sensitive mouth. Jawbreakers are mostly hollow, except for the super-large 3-3/8″ ball that has a gum-filled center.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the process of making sweets on a hot frying pan. A jawbreaker consists of sugar, sugar, and more sugar. It takes 14 to 19 days to produce a single jawbreaker, from a single grain of sugar to the finished product. A batch of jawbreakers are constantly circling huge spherical copper cauldrons over a gas flame. Teapots or pans all have a wide mouth or opening.
There are five basic steps used to create jawbreakers.
pour the sugar
A panner (the worker who uses the pots or kettles to make sweets) pours granulated sugar into a pot while a gas flame preheats the pot. Each grain of sugar will become a jawbreaker as the crystallization process progresses; other grains crystallize around it in a spherical pattern. The panner pours hot liquid sugar into the pan along its edges. The jawbreakers begin to increase in size as the liquid sugar adheres to the sugar grains. In a seemingly never-ending effort, the pot continues to add additional liquid sugar to the pots at intervals over a span of 14 to 19 days, with the pot spinning non-stop. Liquid sugar may be added to the pan more than 100 times in those 14 to 19 days. The baker or some other worker visually inspects the jawbreakers at intervals to ensure there are no abnormalities in the shape of the sweets.
Addition of other ingredients
Only the outer layers of most types of jawbreakers are colored. Only when the jawbreakers have almost reached their final target size does the tray add the default color and flavors to the edge of the tray. As the teapot continues to spin, all of the jawbreakers are evenly “dressed” with color and flavor.
When the jawbreakers have reached their optimum size, after about two weeks, they are transferred from the hot tray to a polishing tray. Hot pans and polishing pans look a lot alike. At this point, the jawbreakers are set to spin on their polishing tray. Another pan-maker adds food-grade wax to the pan so that each confection is polished as the pan rotates. Once polished, the jawbreakers are finished and ready to be packed.
The finished jawbreakers are loaded onto an inclined chute where the candy colors can be evenly mixed. Small batches of jawbreakers roll down the ramp and into a central chute. The jawbreakers continue their journey, falling into trays arranged on spiral arms of the central hopper. Each tray contains only a predetermined weight of jawbreakers (ie 80 oz or 5 lbs). When that weight is reached, the tray is moved out of the way so the next tray can be loaded. When the upper trays reach their weight load, the lower trays drop their jaw breakers into the bagging machine.
A large machine holding a wide spool of thin plastic on a rotating drum is used to automatically bag the jawbreakers. The machine forms plastic bags, fills them with jawbreakers, and then seals the bags. The filled bags are now in the final stage of production. All that is left to do is to put these completed bags into packing boxes and go to market.
A word of caution: Jawbreakers are meant to be sucked on, not bitten on, unless you like the broken-tooth look.
- A jawbreaker can be as big as a golf ball or as small as a sprinkle of candy.
- When a jawbreaker is opened, you will see dozens and dozens of sugar layers that look very much like the concentric rings of an old tree seen in cross section.
- A jaw breaker is not meant for the anxious person who is always in a hurry. It can take hours to properly consume a Jawbreaker. Remember: suck, lick, whatever, but don’t try to chew on the layers. Jawbreakers are made of crystallized sugar that can sometimes be considered as hard as concrete. Be careful please.
- There have been at least two reported occasions where a Jawbreaker spontaneously exploded, leaving its user severely burned requiring hospitalization. One explosion involved a 9-year-old girl from Florida. She had left her jawbreaker exposed to direct sunlight and when she licked for the first time, the jawbreaker exploded in her face, leaving her severely burned on several areas of her body. The other explosion took place on the site of the Discovery Channel TV show MythBusters when a microwave oven was used to illustrate that it can cause different compressed layers within a jawbreaker to heat up at different rates and therefore explode the jawbreaker. , causing a massive spray of extremely hot heat. candy to splash over a wide area. MythBusters host Adam Savage and another crew member were treated for minor burns.