The War to End All Wars was over. So was the one that came after it. It was 1949, and Edward Dee was trying to find a peacetime use for machinery that was designed to bring death and destruction.
What Dee had was a device for making gunpowder pellets. War was supposed to be obsolete. Besides, he just didn’t have the heart for making munitions. He wanted to go into the family business, joining his father and grandfather in the honored profession of candy making. Certainly, there was no way to turn an instrument of war into something that would bring joy and comfort to children, was there?
Nearly 2,700 years earlier, the prophet Isaiah said there would be a day when men would beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Maybe the day had come when a gunpowder pellet machine could be converted into a confection creator.
Dee put his mind to it. He mixed up some powdery flavor options with imported spices such as cloves and cinnamon. The powder was an impractical confection. When he ran it through the pellet machine, however, it was a different story. Tiny pellets of compressed powder poured out of the machine. These flavored pellets packed a punch of flavor.
Dee packed up his two machines and moved from the United Kingdom to the United States. He established the Ce De Candy company and started producing the tiny candy pellets. Although the technology and methodology have changed a bit, the company hasn’t stopped. We know the candy today as Smarties (unless you are in Canada, in which case, you know them as Rockets).
Made with only dry ingredients, Smarties can be found everywhere. They are a staple for Halloween, birthday party treats, and school parties.
From the first factory in a rented space in Bloomfield, New Jersey, Edward Dee’s dream has grown into an international phenomenon. A second factory in Ontario, Canada The candy-making equipment runs 24 hours a day, five days a week, generating more than 30 billion pellets per year. That comes out to 1,335 pellets per second during the time the machines are operational.
Smarties typically come in rolls, featuring six different flavors and corresponding colors. No longer flavored with cinnamon and cloves, the fruity flavors now include orange, strawberry, orange cream, grape, cherry, and pineapple.
Edward Dee passed away in 2019 at the age of 95. The business he built is still going strong after more than 70 years. Despite its massive success, it continues to be a family enterprise.
Smarties is, quite probably, the best thing ever produced by a machine of war.
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Categories: Food, History, Military and Warfare, Technology
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