I have 18 years experience in consumables manufacturing, going from a temporary worker to full time operator to production team lead to continuous improvement manager to production manager. This AMAA is because of a question in /r/WTF.

Edit: phone about dead, I'll try to catch what I can later.

Comments: 2060 • Responses: 79  • Date: 

Ranzear456 karma

Did I grow up or did every candybar I used to eat shrink by about 20-30% in the past decade?

yukerboy497 karma

Our candy bars are sold based on weight. Instead of increasing price, many companies have opted to reduce size. Our bars remain the same, but we have had to increase prices. Continuous improvement has reduced those increases.

REXXT431 karma

Great AMAA man. One of the more informative 'normal guy' AMAA's I've seen in a while.

yukerboy291 karma

I really appreciate that. Thanks so.much.


Do you pay the Oompa-Loompas?

yukerboy580 karma

Would it surprise you if my first name is William?

BornOnFeb2nd117 karma

You're dodging the question......

yukerboy195 karma

I do not sign any checks for Oompa Loompas


What's the most disgusting thing that has ever happened during manufacturing?

yukerboy816 karma

I remember an employee sneezing into a chocolate mixing tank. 3,000 lb @ $3.20/lb gone. Draining, cleaning, disenfecting, and Rabbi Koshering was another 28 hours.

Lord_NiteShade358 karma

Are you serious about the Rabbi Koshering, I am amazed that kind of practice would still be used today. In an assembly line/mass production based system I would think that sort of thing takes a back seat to speed and efficiency.

yukerboy660 karma

Dead serious. To obtain Rabbinical Seal of approval, we follow their guidelines. The biggest reason is the Jewish market share.

ablivion304 karma


yukerboy540 karma

Absolutely. The market share isn't worth it IMHO. They come in, say you need this insignia on your product or we tell everyone to avoid it. To get the insignia, you have to.pay us X amount, which is then spread to all customers. I try to buy as much non-Kosher as possible.

BadUsernameIsBad126 karma

When the Rabbi comes in, does he actually do any checking of the equipment or is it really just a formality? Is there actually any service provided by paying a Rabbi to come in?

yukerboy10 karma

We are actually under daily rabbinical supervision because of the protein line being NonKosher due to the type of protein used. They are there to ensure there is no cross contamination.

rkor12345 karma

Many people with food allergies (e.g. dairy, shellfish, etc) and other dietary restrictions rely on kosher symbols too.

yukerboy8 karma

Today I learned...I honestly didn't know that.

dick_long_wigwam34 karma

How often is Koshering done?

yukerboy75 karma

We deal with Paerve aspects so whenever we go from dairy to nondairy.

Nigholith23 karma

I assume you took it out of his paycheck?

yukerboy165 karma

Of course not. He came to us. We installed a sneeze guard at every operator area where he may come into contact with product.

Pell331256 karma

Funniest moment on the job?

yukerboy796 karma

We have a tank that feeds a tempering unit, then pipes over the chocolate to the molder. An employee was "pigging out the line". This is where they put a rubber plug in one end of the pipe and drive it through using air pressure. The other side was not opened. An employee went to open it when the pig gut stuck and chocolate exploded on him and the wall had a clear silhouette of him. Funniest thing I ever saw.

DarknStormies323 karma

Funny. Similar thing happened when the chief opened up a malfunctioning sanitation system on a boat I worked on.

Paulsar357 karma

One of these accidents seems delicious though and the other seems really delicious.

yukerboy489 karma

One had nuts, the other didnt...

everettrj213 karma

Do you (employees) get delicious kick backs? My Uncle worked for a major cigarette company for 30+ years and while he never smoked was given cartons of smokes which he gave away and filled a closet with throughout the years.

yukerboy362 karma

We do have employee bars that are defective which are given away. The defects range from not enough inclusion (bar supposed to have 12% peanut may have only 9%) to not being enrobed correctly.

Yabbus23211 karma

How costly would it be for the company if the factory stopped production for say 1 minute?

and how much has the process been improved in the 18 years you've been there? as in:what has changed, what has stayed the same, how many more candy can you produce now compared to then, etc...

yukerboy373 karma

Each production line loses approximately $11 in overhead and labor for every minute down and about $135 in gross sales.

I've been with the company for 5 of my 18 years. The biggest improvements we made involved increasing the speeds of the line and increasing the yield. If we throw away the product for one minute of production, that is $115 in raw materials alone, making yield our most crucial Key Performance Indicator.

ablivion188 karma


yukerboy219 karma

Unfortunately, supply chain...easily.

ablivion109 karma


yukerboy109 karma

QC may have been the case 5 years ago, but as we got our processes under control and shipping charges raised considerably, Supply Chain is now our King.

LocoDelco177 karma

What is your favorite candy?

Do you have knowledge about candy that would probably shock the average consumer?

What candy do you dislike?

And if you had to eat a food (fully paid for and prepared) for an entire week, what would you choose, and why?

yukerboy310 karma

The most shocking thing to me was the concern for allergens. If we run a product that contains peanuts and switch to one that does not, the line is down for an extremely detailed clean for 8-12 hours. In comparison, I worked at a beverage company where changeovers were 20 minutes, tops.

ablivion167 karma


greyerg110 karma

"This product was manufactured in a facility that also processes peanuts and/or other tree nuts"

yukerboy206 karma

Labeling does not save you from lawsuits. The FDA is severely lacking in its regulations on allergens.

libitinarii30 karma

This is intriguing to me. I work at a grocery store and people often won't buy items that are made in a facility that processes something they are allergic to.

What is the cleaning process like? Is it thorough enough that someone with a mild allergy shouldn't be concerned?

yukerboy59 karma

Every part machine, part, belt that came into direct contact with the product and everything that contacted those contact surfaces get washed. All bins are color coded for allergens and replaced. Before a line is restarted, the quality department does 4 allergen protein swabs up and down the line. The line is not restarted unless all four show no trace of allergens.

iamaredditer176 karma

How much better is a snicker bar right off the line?

yukerboy390 karma

I can't speak for Snickers, but that's the only way I eat a candy bar anymore.

a_Dewd69 karma

so you guys make Skor at this factory if infact that is your favorite candy bar o.0

yukerboy83 karma

We don't make Skor. Wish we did.

Shuntbox143 karma

People often remark, "It's all made at the same factory anyway." when talking about cheaper home brand alternatives etc. Do you know this to be in anyway true?

yukerboy216 karma

False. The same company sometimes, but different manufacturers. A lot of the production that a larger company considers too much changeover time, allergen concerns, Sugar Free, etc...gets moved to a smaller copacker to produce.

Now these smaller copackers may make a cheap chocolate bar, turn around and do Ghiradelli the very next shift.

Nomsfud136 karma

What is so secretive about a confectionary company that we can ask you almost anything? What are you hiding???

yukerboy244 karma

I just can't mention the name or customers.

bphilly_cheesesteak121 karma

Has a TV Show such as Unwrapped ever filmed in your factory?

Do you get to eat anything off the line? I'm sure if you did you would be sick of sweets by now.

yukerboy188 karma

There is no eating on the production floor, but I have no issues with a bar being taken from the line to the break room.

No television has ever been at our plant.

trusso110 karma

What's the inside buzz about posting calorie contents on the outside of packages? From what I understand, the industry decided to do this to avoid regulation--have consumers responded positively? Are companies afraid of a coming health conscious effort?

yukerboy176 karma

Yes, our biggest fear is the health activists, but then we also need to change our paradigms and adapt. We now have one line dedicated to protein bars and two others dedicated to fruit and nut based bars.

TMarkos96 karma

Can you describe (in as much detail as you're able) the general properties of the chocolate that coats most non-chocolate-core candy bars? It seems to be a chocolate quite unlike what you'd find in a majority-chocolate bar. Is it chosen for melt resistance, ability to hold form, or what?

yukerboy128 karma

First thing depends on the coating. Some are chocolate, some are chocolate flavor coatings.

The biggest thing we look for is the temper. This doesn't affect the flavor, except psychologically. The temper melts down the crystals which then reform on the outside, making chocolate have a crystal skin. Badly tempered bars don't shine and bend, don't break. Coatings are used because the tempering process is eliminated.

omaknight87 karma

Have you ever witnessed any form of disruption or manipulation to your products by employees?

yukerboy199 karma

No. Not one time. I believe the employee engagement processes we have in place allowing our employees self autonomy and mastery at their positions in addition to a profit sharing program eliminate this issue.

BriEnos72 karma

This sold me... you guys rock. I want to work there now =)

yukerboy246 karma

This was the biggest head turning video for upper management:


dismonio54 karma

I'm pretty sure this 10 minute video just changed my life forever and how I think about creating motivated work forces. Thank you for this. It has very simply answered one of my biggest "people" questions.

As I'm progressing through my education and expanding into the "real" world, the biggest challenge of mine are not the technical aspects of my profession, but the people and how THEY work. Most people seem to think about themselves when it comes to being productive or "getting the job done" and they completely forget that a small investment into others can go a long way. They'll often use the excuse of, "I can just do it myself faster", but completely ignore the fact that two competent people will undoubtedly accomplish more.

If you are one of those who complain about having to do everything yourself and it is overwhelming, consider devoting a portion of your time to teaching others to unload yourself.

Edit: If possible, do you have any other talks along the same lines you're willing to share?

mikeeteevee8 karma

I once had to sit through this video with a Director of a company. This video didn't surprise or shock me. What did surprise me was that they were missing the fundamental point in there, which was: take the money issue off the table. They really couldn't understand why no-one wanted to down tools to play a game of table football when they were worried about making their rent payments that month.

yukerboy10 karma

Amen, but be sure of defining off the table. Pay enough that basic needs are met. If a person needs government assistance, it didn't take it off the table. Same aspect, if they complain about being underpaid and you believe they are not, challenge them to prove it to better themselves. Either they realize they are paid what they are worth or find a better paying job elsewhere.

I had job offers for more money, but my employer is secure in knowing I am happy where I am at. More money doesn't fuel me. Autonomy and Purpose do.

naphthoylindole80 karma

Do you ever get any dead animals (bugs, rat bits, etc) in candy and the whole batch has to be thrown away?

yukerboy157 karma

That hasn't happened yet. We did get a batch of honey we use on a bar that had bees in it once, but that was disposed of before we used it.

labrys51 karma

I read somewhere that (in the UK at least), there's an allowable amount of insect parts in chocolate, so your average chocolate bar has at least 1 insect leg in it.

Edit - looks like the FDA has similar rules covering insect parts, rodent fur, and mould, so probably the same in American chocolate too. Found a page talking about how chocolate allergies are often allergies to cockroach legs and not the cocoa itself. One of those things I wished I hadn't researched.

yukerboy56 karma

Yes. Another nasty one we deal with is dates. Check that one out once.

ruthless-efficiency79 karma

Is your real name William Wonka and if it isn't, would you change it to William Wonka for charity? (Redditors get ready to reach into those pockets). Just saying, it would be a MASSIVE publicity stunt for your company. Bet the papers would love it, nudge nudge.

yukerboy242 karma

Wife said absolutely not.

efinke9669 karma

Favorite Candy?

yukerboy186 karma

Skor, easily.

leavenotrailbehind62 karma


yukerboy96 karma

I can't confirm Snickers formula, but a bar we run similar to Snickers is 35g of core and 10g of chocolate. I would think they use a similar one.

Acer7157 karma

What are your thoughts on Watermelon Stretchy and Tangy Laffy Taffy, the kind with edible seeds? Edit: Are there any out of production snacks/candies that you miss?

yukerboy50 karma

I have no experience with those. Our company does chocolate molding, sheeting, and extrusion processes.

sterling_mallory52 karma

In relation to the original question you commented on, what other odd things might slip through the production line? I remember seeing quite a few posts with bags of Doritos containing nothing but a huge nugget of spice powder. Anything happen like that with confections?

yukerboy82 karma

Not really. We just had a Cherry Almond Chocolate bar sent back lacking Almonds and had to recall two pallets of it. Thats about the worst of it.

inputwtf10 karma

What do you do when it's a defect like that? Remelt and put the almonds back in? Or let everyone in the factory help themselves to them, until nobody ever wants to taste cherry chocolate ever again?

yukerboy18 karma

Remelt and add almonds. Problems with this is maintaining a correct temper.

SpaghettiFarmer47 karma

Glad to see you followed up on my AMA suggestion! Figured it would be well-recieved. :)

I'd like to know about the general proportions of product over the years - no specifics necessary, just general trends. Has your plant always done protein bars as part of their production, or is that a more recent thing? What kind of shifts in production or demand have there been over the years?

yukerboy33 karma

We had 4 lines where we did three molding lines and 1 fruit and nut line. Over the course of five years, we took a molding line out, added another fruit and nut and added a protein bar line. I cant say for sure, but I think this will be a trend for most confection companies.

salladallas45 karma

What's your story for successfully climbing the ladder that well?

yukerboy223 karma

Reading and then utilizing what I read. The single most important book anyone in any field could ever use is How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

elilev341 karma

How often do the workers steal candy and what happens if they get caught?

yukerboy107 karma

The two immediately firable no questions asked rules are gossiping and stealing. Yes, both have happened.

Gossiping we consider to be complaining to people who can't fix the issue you are complaining about.

EvilMonkeh76 karma

I can understand firing someone for stealing but the gossiping rules seem overly harsh and kinda contradicting to the companies view on employees being a valued asset.

yukerboy44 karma

Attitude is huge. Every employee is told the gossiping policy and what we define gossiping as. This actually is a relief for all the employees as negative words are rarely said.

bcubed138 karma

How much do you make?

yukerboy62 karma

With bonuses I grossed 55k

dassouki37 karma

why is the same product manufactured differently for different countries. I'm not talking a bit of difference in ingredients and taste but massive

yukerboy61 karma

That I don't know. I would think the sourcing of the ingredients. We imported Belgian chocolate for some products and Mexican Chocolate for others. The formulas are vastly different, though the actually ingredients may be similar.

Skarrg34 karma

Ooh interesting! I have a laundry list of curiosities if you have time!

  1. What's your normal process for development for new confectionaries? Does someone go "Think this would be good with 2g less chocolate and 2g more cranberries?" or is it another process?

  2. How do you retain a consistent flavor between multiple batches or having to switch bean suppliers?

  3. What do you think is the best way to enjoy a bar of chocolate?

(Sorry for the weird questions, I went to a small chocolate shop earlier today and questions started tooling in my head on the way home)

yukerboy64 karma

Whenever we enter the product development phase, we do a Kaizen type brainstorm. We set rules for weight, price targets and production costs then try to come up with the best fit to trial. We did a pomegranate dark chocolate earlier this month from this. Usually the target price defines our inclusion percentage but the price target was so high, the pomegranate was so overwhelming. We then increased the cacao percentage to compensate.

We use the same formulas and same suppliers for the most part.

Break off a piece and let it melt, never suck, never bite.

dentrick32 karma

1) Why did did you get promoted?

2) How's morale among the concrete people?

3) what kind of safety issues exist in your plant?

4) Do you suffer from many quality problems?

5) How long does it typically take to train a production worker?

6) can you alter the product mix on a line? Such as Change settings/ machinery to produce something different.

7) Do line workers ever grab one or two off the line?

8) does the product taste like unicorn rainbows hot off the line?

yukerboy81 karma

I got promoted because of influence. When people say it's who you know, they are partially right. Bosses hate jerks. Make it a joy for them to approach you rather than have them think talking to you is a necessity.

The morale is high, but a huge part of that is giving them the tools to self mastery. Not one employee says "I can't wait to fuck up today" and companies need to recognize that employees are the single greatest appreciating value we have. The more they run the more value they gain. Opposite of any other asset.

Safety is a high priority today, but it didn't used to be. Again, I credit the employee involvement in creating a lean environment and taking the lead.

We pride ourselves in the employee training programs. 4 hours in class, 4 hours on the floor and an employee is ready to do any action needed in a specific position including changeovers.

Our product is mixed before it hits the line, so the rest of the settings are standardized. There are ranges an employee may work within before needing to get maintenance involved.

7 yes

8 never tried unicorn rainbows

Agent926231 karma

Specifically, which confection items does your facility make? Also, how many of each do you produce each day?

yukerboy58 karma

We produce about 200,000 of chocolate bars per day, 600,000 bars of our fruit and nut based bars and about 250,000 protein bars.

MustacheEmperor45 karma

Really astonishing you make so many more "healthy" bars. Does that reflect the industry in general or just your plant?

yukerboy41 karma

Just our plant, but I think it will be a growing trend that Hershey and Mars will lead in at some point.

likwidfuzion30 karma

I can't believe this hasn't been asked yet: Are you the favorite house for Halloween?

yukerboy23 karma

In the neighborhood, yes.

acerldd29 karma

If I have you co-pack 100k of 2oz brownies with horizontal preprinted wrap and I'm paying for the ingredients, how much should I expect to pay per piece for your compacting services?

Do most copackers offer nitrogen injection vacuum packing or is that too much of a specialty process?

yukerboy38 karma

I would expect to see your costs to be appx $.12 per bar. This is assuming they get packed into 1.5lb displays and cased as 6/12s.

We have experimented with nitrogen vacuum sealed wrapping, but it is not a service we currently offer.

mwmwmwmwmmdw28 karma

why do kids love the taste of cinnamon toast crunch? and why is twix so damn good?

yukerboy41 karma

I know one thing we do is try to get to a certain weight in all our bars yet keep pricing constant. I'm sure Twix does the same so to make up for the light and cheap cookie core, I would bet they use a higher quality chocolate.

Shnazercise26 karma

How does one manufacture a shiny, rounded chocolate like a chocolate covered almond? They don't show lines as they would if moulded, and there is no flat spot as they would if dipped and cooled on a surface. Are they tumbled?

yukerboy46 karma

The product goes through a mesh belt with a waterfall of chocolate raining down. As it continues, the excess chocolate gets blow off and the chocolate hardens around it.

Miix24 karma

To your knowledge, how often is a given recipe (for something like a Snicker's bar) notably changed, and for what purpose generally? Are the occasional differences in taste just a product of my imagination?

yukerboy30 karma

The specifications of our bars are reviewed and tweaked twice a year based on ingredient pricing for newer products, but the consistency is always more important in keeping a popular brand popular.

MichaelMemphis23 karma

Do your workers steal a lot?

yukerboy35 karma

We've fired two people for theft since I have been there. One was not product related.

ablivion20 karma


yukerboy65 karma

No, but I did change the first name from Bill to Willy.

Shoegeyser15 karma

Why is some chocolate much, much cheaper than others? What accounts for the difference in quality--ingredients/production?

yukerboy22 karma

One is cacao content. Two is fat % in the cream/milk used.

too_many_penises12 karma

Do you ever get tired of candy?

yukerboy166 karma

I get tired of the smell of chocolate. One does not simply get tired of candy.

FlatulentDirigible12 karma

Has there ever been an opportunity for your manufacturer to do test runs of any new candy bar recipes that are not available to the general public? If so, can you talk about any of them? What was the best & worst?

yukerboy31 karma

We have a shift of trials every three months. We did a caramel nut one that worked so well until it hit the conveyors and rollers. We were down two days for repairs.

fyeaGreenDay21 karma

Why? was the caramel all sticky everywhere and made a huge mess or what?

yukerboy20 karma

Exactly. Wish I could share those pics

xXMusieXx10 karma

What's your favorite treat to make?

yukerboy19 karma

I love the protein bars made on the extrusion line and it is a model of efficiency.

Nakanuro7 karma

Great AMAA, but I have to ask. Proof?

yukerboy8 karma

I will need to provide some tomorrow when I get back to work.

gruffi6 karma

Why does US chocolate taste like vomit to Europeans?

yukerboy9 karma

Because the air and water affect your taste buds differently?

El_espectro5 karma

Alright, I'm onto you. Where are you keeping the illegal Oompa-Loompa workers?

yukerboy27 karma

Who said they were illegal?

chickenfriedcomedy4 karma

Your favorite candy bar. What is it?

yukerboy6 karma

Skor bar.

Aspel4 karma

Do you ever look at a candy bar sitting next to the check out and wonder if that was one of yours?

yukerboy9 karma

No. Every brand we make is made only by us.

SailorVanIndium4 karma

Will a foil-wrapped, hollow, chocolate "cigar" eventually spoil?

yukerboy7 karma


webers3 karma

I've been really interested in food/candy production and manufacturing, and I've always loved shows like Unwrapped. I'm currently a freshman in college studying food science. What advice can you offer to someone who would eventually like to start a career in this field?

yukerboy5 karma

Don't ignore the leadership and team building. Psychology is fun, but be sure you are learning something not just for grades, but for utilization. When I conduct interviews it is "Did you graduate." And "What did you actually learn that will help me."

[deleted]1 karma


yukerboy1 karma

I am not shocked.

tomthepirate1 karma

Have the oompa loompas ever tried to unionize?

yukerboy1 karma

Not since I have been there.

andy246011 karma

Are the candy bars produced by workers individually, or in an assembly line fashion? In high school we did an experiment and the assembly line proved faster.

yukerboy4 karma

Assembly line. Process goes like this.

Melt Temper Mold Wrap Pack Ship

theinvisiblenobody1 karma

Can you sell me discounted candy?

yukerboy1 karma

No. Any employee candy may not be resold under any condition.

Dinokknd0 karma

Would you rather eat a monsterduck sized candy bar, or 200 candy bar sized monsterducks?

yukerboy1 karma

200 > 1...always

iamaredditer-7 karma

Are you diabetic or obese? Or does the company not allow fatties inside due to fear of them eating the profits?

yukerboy11 karma

We don't have weight restrictions. I am 225lb and 5'11". A few diabetics work here, but the bigger concern are those with nut allergies.