Products such as breath mints, chocolate or gum are sometimes coated with candy or a crunchy shell to protect an edible core or form part of the taste experience.
Conventional coating time consuming
"Applying coatings, often referred to as hard-pan coatings, takes a long time to manufacture and produce,” said Hershey in its patent application.
“This time results in increased energy and other production costs,” it said.
The company has therefore developed a film coating that is normally used to coat medical pills to protect consumers from the medicine's bitter flavor and making it easier to swallow.
Such coatings are not regularly used in confectionery as they are so thin and short lasting.
Film coating benefits
However, Hershey claims it has developed products using one or two film coatings that can deliver a chosen flavour and keep the product intact.
This it says will keep production costs down and can be created more efficiently than conventional coating methods.
“It can further result in an extremely smooth surface not currently found in other confectionery products,” it said.
The film coatings are polymer-based and can be made from natural or synthetic sources such as gelatine and cellulose varieties.
Additives can be incorporated to the film coating layer to give texture and flavour and sweeteners or cooling agents with active ingredients can also be added to deliver a cool, bitter or hot sensation, said Hershey.
Flavorants such as cinnamon oil can also be used.
Cores for coating
Hershey’s application is for the film coating to be used on any edible core/food that is capable of being film coated. This could include confectionery such as lozenges, chocolate or chewing gum.
Ideally the core should be rounded to allow the film coating to be applied, said Hershey.
The film can either be applied directly to the core or on top of a wax or other sealing material, read the application.
More than one film coating can be applied to give a product multiple layers and tastes, said Hershey.
“For example, one film coating could be used to provide a short experience of cinnamon flavoring and/or hot sensation, followed by a different, longer lasting film coating having a mint flavoring and/or cooling sensation to accentuate the soothing effect experienced after the earlier layer,” said the firm
It also said that adjusting the weight ratios between film coating and the core of the product could help candy makers to control how long the product lasts in the mouth.
The patent was filed under The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an international patent law treaty that allows a uniform patent to be considered by signatory national or regional authorities.
National and regional authorities that are signatories to the PCT will now decide whether or not to grant the patent.
For more detailed information on the Hershey’s invention, see its patent application here.