A kind of candy-bar, combining Chocolate, nougat, peanuts and caramel into one blissful bar-shaped food item. They are produced by the M and M Mars Corp.

Of the Mars candy trinity (3 Musketeers, Milky Way, and Snickers, in order of increasing stuff besides nougat), this one is perhaps my favorite. Or, more correctly, it is my most often eaten. Know why?

Because Snickers really satisfies.

I guess so. The ad agency working for Mars sure hit a winner with that one. Despite the definite candy-ness of its usual bedfellows (M&M's, 3 Musketeers, etc.), when presented with the option of purchasing one, my advertising-addled brain can't but think, "Hey, a Snickers bar is a legitimate source of nutrients, a $0.75 mini-meal!" Is this bar somehow above its peanut-less siblings?

Maybe because I only buy one when I'm really hungry, and a candy machine is the only thing open, then sure, Snickers really satisfies. Then again, so would a baked potato, but you can't get those from a machine. And Snickers is still just a candy bar--you get some carbs and some fat, how satisfying is that?

And never does the name of this candy-turned-foodstuff ever really register. Snickers. As in: "The Mars candy executive snickers as the hapless customer digs another $0.75 from his pocket."

Coincidence? I think not.


I worked part-time at M&M Mars in Waco, TX for over a year as a college job in the 90's - most of that time packaging Snickers bars. When people discover this, there are a few questions that they normally ask:

Ooh! I'll bet you must hate to see Snickers bars, much less eat them!
No way! I still love eating Snickers. For 20 hours a week for about a year, I watched 48 Snickers bars per second come down the conveyor belt. The only thing I regret is having to buy them at the store when they're several weeks old. Nothing beats grabbing them fresh off the line, when the chocolate still has the full aroma, and the peanuts are still slightly warm! Consume with milk for the ultimate Snickers experience.

How are they made?

The process starts in two places. In the "chocolate room" powdered cocoa is milled down and mixed with sugar and powdered milk in a special process to create milk chocolate. I didn't spend a lot of time in this area, but I can tell you that there are huge tanks of liquid milk chocolate, and if you fell in, you would be a goner, but you'd die happy.

In another area, caramel and peanuts are mixed and rolled out gradually down a conveyor - I'd say about 45 inches wide, and 3/8ths of an inch thick. A layer of nougat about the same size is also rolled out continuously, and the peanut-caramel mixture is laid on top of it. In addition to sugar and other good things, nougat actually contains what they call rework - ground up Snicker bars. (talk about recursion...) This moving slab of peanut caramel and nougat travels into a slitter which creates long continuous strips. These strips travel into a guillotine which chops them into the right length for a regular sized bar. At this point the strips are separated from each other laterally, and the pickup conveyor speeds up to get some linear distance between them. This is to allow for ample room for the chocolate coating, now piped in from the chocolate room and poured over the bars like a delicious waterfall.

After the bars receive their initial coat of chocolate, they go into a decorator where the undersides receive their trademark zig-zag pattern from the rubber conveyor's impression on a second fresh coat of chocolate on the bottom. Also, the tops are decorated by drizzling chocolate through moving scrolls with diamond-shaped holes in them.

After this, the bars travel through a long cooling tunnel where the chocolate hardens. Row after row are then dropped off the conveyor and fed to one of the dozen or so wrapping machines. Each bar travels through metal detector on the way in, and out of the wrapping and packaging process. Any metal triggers a blast of air that blows the bar into a waste bin.

What in the heck is "nougat"
Good question... ;)

I'll bet you saw some nasty stuff, working in food manufacturing.
Actually, I wish I could spill some dirt for you, but you would be surprised how clean the place is. Mars is fanatical about "protecting the product". For instance:
  • All employees wear hairnet and caps at all times.
  • All employees wear clean white uniforms
  • Gloves are worn whenever there is contact with the product
  • Employees may not wear beards, jewelry, watches, cologne or perfume.
  • There are no staplers anywhere in the plant or office. Any documents are fastened with glue sticks. Presumably this helps keep metal staples out of the product. (Weird)
  • Any employee can stop the process at any time if something seems wrong
  • All product passes through metal detectors.
  • Periodically throughout the day, bars are melted down and measured for QC purposes. Tasting is continuous. Biological cultures are taken often.
  • Any product that touches the floor or touches anything that touched the floor is destroyed - even if it was already wrapped. How many of us would toss a Snicker bar, just because we dropped it on the floor while it was still in the wrapper
  • Workers clean the entire plant non-stop - all surfaces - food surfaces, floors, ceilings, pipes, machinery, everything!
  • Employees are fired on the spot for any type of horseplay that could compromise the product.

Now and then, if a temperature or moisture content is not quite right, such that product is produced that is safe to eat, but not the right texture or something, it is ground-up and used as part of nougat for other bars.

About the worst thing I've seen was when some peanut butter Snickers got stuck in the guillotine while the peanut butter layer just kept coming. Before we could get it shut down, we were knee deep in peanut butter, and scooping it off into waste barrels by the arm-full. We all got dirty that day, but no product was compromised - just a lot of money wasted!

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