If you’re ever strolling around the Bloor and Lansdowne or Dundas West area and happen to catch a whiff of a chocolatey scent, you’re not imagining things: there’s a Nestle factory just down the street on industrial Sterling Road.
It’s one of the oldest confectionery factories in Canada operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to produce Nestle’s core four candies: Smarties, Coffee Crisp, Aero and the most popular, Kit Kat.
The factory is totally peanut-free, employs over 500 people as part of the local economy and uses about five and a half thousand tons of milk and ten and a half thousand tons of sugar each year to make some of our favourite sweets.
Tiny, rainbow-coloured and quintessentially Canadian Smarties are more complicated to make than you might think. So much so, there’s a control centre from which each step of their creation is monitored.
Smarties start with liquid chocolate centres made from sustainably sourced cocoa which are cooled down to solid by a machine. “Naked” Smarties are conveyed up into drums which smooth out the centres.
It takes many hours to add the signature coating, a sugar solution which is sprayed on and let dry hundreds of times to achieve Smarties’ crispy shell.
Lastly, colour is added and then the dull finished Smarties are given a shiny coating of carnauba wax.
After being boxed automatically, the last step all Smarties go through is still being packaged by hand.
Those beloved Kit Kats start out as wafer sandwiches with cream in the middle, which are then dropped into a chocolate mold and go through a cooling tunnel.
They’re moved around on conveyor belts where they can be checked for quality control.
Bars that don’t meet the standard are discarded and then crushed up to make the filling for future Kit Kats.
The in-demand Kit Kats are packaged automatically.
If Sterling smells vaguely of freshly unwrapped Kit Kats, then the fifth floor of the factory, where Coffee Crisp is made, smells like a thousand fresh pots of coffee being brewed all at once.
Similar to the other candy, Coffee Crisp starts out as naked wafer sheets cut into small pieces by an automated saw.
The Coffee Crisp wafers then go through an enrober machine that coats them in two layers of chocolate.
They’re cooled off so the chocolate solidifies in a controlled way and doesn’t develop an unappetizing grey patina called “bloom.”
Nestle is a Swiss company but they’ve been in Canada for 130 of their 150 years in business and now employ about 3,500 Canadians in total.
So if you’re wandering around the area I affectionately call Nestleville and suddenly smell chocolate, now you know why.