After four years of hand wrapping our caramels, not to mention custom cutting our wrappers, Adrienne and I realized we needed to revolutionize our production in order to meet the ever growing demand of our product. So in the winter of 2013, in the midst of the holiday frenzy, we set out to find a piece of equipment that we hoped would change the way we did business.
Finding this piece of equipment was no easy feat and after copious amounts of research we decided on a Model K&H Wrapper for it's similar wrapping style to our current look. The machines were designed around 1900 and were made to wrap the popular salt water taffy of the time. Little did we know, these machines are a hot commodity in the boutique candy industry and we missed out on purchasing three of these machines in quick succession before stumbling upon the man behind the machine, the only person in the world who restores these old workhorses to their former glory.
Turns out, the worlds foremost authority on Model K&H's lives in rural North Carolina, past the Piggly Wiggly and the tobacco fields, past the long abandoned wooden barns, lives Ron, his wife Kathy, their three dogs and their miniature horse. Their house abuts a dense jungle of growth where wild boars roam and on an unseasonably warm and humid day in early October of 2014, Adrienne and I found ourselves in the middle of Ron's shop, surrounded by the paraphernalia of long neglected candy machines, sweating, and hoping that the answer to our needs lay somewhere in this crowded shop.
Ron, an ex-candy maker by trade, who once owned one of the busiest candy factories on the New Jersey shore found that his passion wasn't in the delectable treats that he mass produced for the throngs of vacationers, but in the equipment that made his factory hum. He sold his business in the late '60's and today supplies the world with his refurbished machines. He carefully deconstructs and painstakingly restores these relics into their original form - often retooling by hand parts that can no longer be found.
After our mad dash run to North Carolina in late fall of 2014, we were anxious for the delivery or our refurbished Model K&H and were hopeful that the machine would arrive before the busy holiday season. On a cold day in mid November our machine finally arrived. Unfortunately, it would sit unused, staring at us while we wrapped thousands of caramels by hand during our busiest holiday season ever, as many more months were needed for retooling the machine, R&D, and searching for a material that would replace the unbleached parchment our customers had grown to love.