A Moment of Science

The Secret of M&Ms

Candy coated chocolates are made through an intensive tumble-dry process.

Assorted chocolate candies on display

Photo: Kirti Poddar (Flickr)

Chocolate candies take much longer to make than consume.

Have you ever wondered how candy companies get chocolate to evenly coat things like raisins, malted milk balls, and M&Ms? Here’s how they do it down at the chocolate factory:

Candy Filling

The centers of the candy are placed into a coating pan, a machine that resembles a cement mixer. The pan rotates like a dryer and sprays melted chocolate over the candy centers that are tumbling around inside. It keeps rotating until the chocolate cools down and solidifies.

During the tumbling process, every treat is exposed to the same amount of chocolate spray. Tumbling also prevents the cooling candies from sticking together, and smoothes any rough edges to produce perfectly round confections. This process is repeated up to three times.

Candy Coating

For sugar-coated candies, there are an additional two steps. After the chocolate has solidified, the same process is used to spray a sweet colorful liquid over the candies. Finally, the candies get their gloss from a special type of vegetable oil that is solid at room temperature.

So the next time you scarf down a whole bag of delicious chocolate candies, don’t feel guilty. Just think of it as quality control!

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