Yesterday we joined a group of homeschool families for a tour of the Harry London Chocolate Factory in Canton.
Harry London started making chocolate in his basement in 1922, using recipes that his father had developed. His friends and family liked his chocolates so much that Harry eventually quit his job at Republic Steel to make chocolate full time. The company was independently owned until 2006, when 1-800-FLOWERS bought both Harry London and Fannie May Confections. The two lines of chocolate are produced in the same factory, but the recipes are kept separate. This Canton factory is the only production location in the world for both lines.
We were not allowed to take photographs during the tour, unfortunately. But we did get a really good look at how their chocolates are made. For health and safety reasons the tours do not go onto the factory floor, but there is a glass-walled walkway overhead. From up there, we could see almost the entire production line.
Our first stop was a short film about chocolate. Then we went into the “Tank Room” and saw the large holding tanks that stir 80,000 pounds of chocolate, kept constant at between 106 degrees and 120 degrees F, before piping them in jacketed lines to the rest of the factory.
From upstairs, we could see pretzels being sorted and covered with “white confection” (so named because “white chocolate” is a misnomer; there is no cocoa in “white chocolate”). Two workers drizzled red and green icing over the dipped pretzels. We saw the cutters for bars of chocolate and saw them being wrapped. We also saw nougat being sliced and coated. Another line rolled cherries into sugar, then dipped them into chocolate (twice!)
It was interesting to see that, while the lines included long conveyor belts and what looked like a lot of machinery, much of the actual candy-making still involved a lot of human interaction. We saw at least two workers on each line, and some lines- like the bar chocolates- had four or five people sorting, feeding, and stacking.
Employees are not allowed to eat anything while they are on the factory floor, but they do have a break room. That is where all the “mistakes” go… pieces that are misshapen, broken, or otherwise visually imperfect (but still tasty!) The kids seemed very disappointed that we were not able to go in there and check it out for ourselves. They brightened up when I let them pick out a few individual chocolates in the retail store afterwards, however.