Switzerland is famous for its chocolate, and now has come up with a new wrinkle with the development of candies decorated with holographic designs. The rainbow images are made with no additives or chemicals, etched into the surface of the chocolate through a process similar to that used to etch holograms onto credit cards, except that these are edible.
Holograms are photographic images created by superimposing two-dimensional pictures of the same object seen from different angles, creating an appearance of depth. Reflection holograms, the type found on the Swiss chocolate, can be viewed in normal light, as laser beams are actually used to take the picture. For the candy version the image microstructures are etched into a metal master mold that uses texture to diffract light, creating the holographic effect. A plastic mold is made from the metal mold which is then filled with liquid chocolate, imprinting the microstructures onto the candy surfaces in much the same way that vinyl records are made. The process uses no paint, additives, or stickers.
The method was developed by a company called Morphotonix, located in Lausanne, Switzerland. Veronica Savu, Morphotonix CEO, says that the company has tested the method with many types of chocolate and has found that some work great and others just will not mold no matter what they do because of their chemical makeup. The company began developing the technology in 2012. Savu says they are also looking at using the same technique for other products, such as authenticity marks directly embedded on any rigid plastic object (not necessarily edible).
Swiss and chocolate have gone together for centuries. Although the Swiss did not invent chocolate, they were the first to begin manufacturing it, beginning in a former paper mill near Bern around 1750. However, they did invent the milk chocolate variety. The Swiss did not really care for dark chocolate, which was all that was originally available, so a chocolate maker named Daniel Peter started to experiment with new recipes. After eight years of trial and error the recipe for milk chocolate was perfected after Peter tried using condensed milk instead of regular milk, which had too much water content. The condensed milk was invented by Henri Nestle. Today over 80 percent of the chocolate consumed by the Swiss is milk chocolate.
Another Swiss invention, which the holographic chocolate would not be able to do without, is fondant, or melting chocolate. In 1879 Rudolphe Lindt added cocoa butter to the mix to give it the qualities necessary for melting, creating what is still known as Lindt chocolates. The process also took away the coarse, gritty flavor. Schokolade is a way of life for the Swiss, who consume more per person than any other nation, over 23 pounds annually, which is an average of one chocolate bar per person for every day of the year.
The Swiss company is presently working on bringing the holographic chocolate to market, working with a German chocolate mold manufacturer. They will be unveiling the product this week in Dusseldorf, Germany at the Interpack packaging trade fair.
By Beth A. Balen