It’s not every day you get an invite to have a nosey around one of the UK’s leading chocolatiers and when I received the email in my inbox, I couldn’t type ‘Yes please!‘ quick enough. I was invited up to Derbyshire to have a once-in-a-lifetime tour around the Thorntons chocolate factory and I was beyond excited. I couldn’t wait to see how the chocolates were made, how they were all packaged up and I couldn’t wait to smell the chocolate, and maybe try out a little chocolate or two.
Although I had visions of a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory style set up, I didn’t really know what to expect. On arrival to the factory, I was asked to change into some rather attractive white boots, a lab coat and don a hair net to comply with health and safety and then the tour began. The first thing that hit me as we walked into the factory was the smell. It was absolutely divine, instantly recognisable and my nostrils couldn’t get enough of it.
The Thorntons chocolate factory is huge. There’s lots going on with pretty much the whole process of chocolate production from start to finish under one roof. As far as my eye could see, I could see vats of ingredients, lines of chocolates being decorated and boxes of chocolates being packaged up. It was an unbelievable sight.
We were lucky enough to watch a line of chocolates make its way down the production line from the centres being cut up into bitesize pieces, to them being coated in white chocolate and given milk chocolate bottoms as well as sugar being sprinkled over the top and then they were cooled within minutes to be bagged up. It was really fascinating and I developed a whole new appreciation for the work involved in chocolate making.
We also got to see how Thorntons Special Toffee was made and again the smell coming from this part of the factory was absolutely amazing. I was fascinated to see how the slabs of cooled toffee are lifted up a conveyer belt and then effectively dropped from a great height to shatter into bits. How I kept my hands out of the big plastic tubs of toffee I don’t know!
Thorntons pride themselves on being a happy employer and you could really see this as we walked around the factory. There were lots of employees taking great care working on their element of the chocolate making process and it was really interesting to see how they worked in tandem with the machinery to produce the quality chocolates we all know and love.
After lunch, we were able to try out our own chocolatier skills by piping icing messages onto chocolate slabs and personalising chocolates with different flavour fondant fillings and decorating them with a variety of toppings.
I won’t be accepted as a chocolatier anytime soon but it was fun to get hands on with the icing and create our own chocolates. We even made our own chocolate baskets to transport our goodies home.
I had an amazing day visiting Thorntons, it was so fascinating and I will never look at a box of chocolates in the same light again! Huge thanks to the team at Thorntons for my invitation and for their hospitality.
Disclosure: I was invited to the factory for a once-in-a-lifetime tour and my expenses were paid. I wasn’t asked to write a blog post but couldn’t not tell you all about it. It was simply brilliant!