The process, which can be used in the manufacturing of cookies, snack bars and hand-held granola products including nuts or dried fruit, was patented last month by the owner of Life cereals and Cap'n Crunch. Traditionally snacks such as these are made by cutting a mixture comprised of a sugar solution, nuts, dried fruits and cereal products. The ingredients are combined and moisture removed by baking – a lengthy process that can hold up production lines and delay the cooling and subsequent packaging of the item. When fully dried out, the mixture is cut into the desired shapes but breakage and waste often occurs and can increase manufacturing costs. In order to increase the efficiency of the process, Quaker Oats has developed a method for mixing the ingredients at a higher temperature than normally used – allowing them to cool at room temperature and therefore bypassing the need for a time-consuming baking process. It is possible for the set base to be reheated and recycled to make further products such as breakfast cereals or cookies, further minimising wastage and expenditure. In addition, there is scope for the invention to be used in making confectionery and other snack products. The patent states: "The process of the invention is suitable for manufacture of a wide range of snack-food products that contain melting ingredients. Once the product has been formed, melting ingredients, including for example chocolate, can of course be applied to the cooled product, usually to the outside."