Monday, September 18, 2017

Tip #238 Turn Caramel Apples Upside Down


If you love caramel apples, but you hate how apples don’t always set straight and level, then this super simple tip of the week is about to turn your world upside down, literally.

Instructors at RCI’s Caramels, Toffees & Brittles course, recommend turning apples upside down before inserting caramel apple sticks into the base of the apple.

Thanks to this tip, long-time RCI member, Fascia’s Chocolates of Waterbury, Connecticut, started flipping their apples after 53 years of practicing the traditional method of inserting sticks through the top of the apple, near the stem. Carmen Romeo, of Fascia’s Chocolates, says their apples now set more steadily and less caramel seems to gather on the bottom.

Try this tip yourself and let us know which method you prefer in the comments below.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tip #237: Celebrate El Dia de los Muertos


Merchandising is an important component to increasing sales. It is a way to grab your customers’ attention, stimulate emotions and give buyers a reason to make a purchase. This fall, take advantage of a traditional Hispanic holiday and the theme of the latest Disney movie, when adding to your merchandising displays.

El Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is celebrated between October 31st and November 2nd, and is similar to Halloween with its themes of death and the spirit world. Not to be morbid or scary, instead this holiday is a fun, family-based celebration of life and death, a time to honor lost relatives with flowers, favorite foods and treats, even trinkets and toys.  In addition November 22, Disney releases its newest movie, Coco,  which takes place in this spirit world. Coco is the story of aspiring musician Miguel and his extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead.

For inspiration, here a few ways to incorporate Dia de los Muertos into your fall merchandising. 

Decorate a display with various bright colors including paper flowers, colorful banners and painted skulls.  Source: Party City

Source: Party City
As a play on the holiday’s sugar skulls, create sweets such as painted moulded skulls, decorate caramel apples and skull pops in their likeness.
Tomric Skull Mould

Caramel Apples from CraftyChica.com

Sugar Skulls Source: Oh! Nuts


Ideas for gift items source: smart-retailer.com



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tip #236: Join RCI in Albuquerque, New Mexico



Albuquerque, New Mexico is the destination for Retail Confectioners International’s (RCI) Fall Regional Conference. If you’re a candy maker, chocolatier or industry supplier, keep reading for the top 4 reasons why you should join RCI in the “Land of Enchantment” October 4-6, 2017.

1. Experience the most photographed event in the world.
Extend your stay to experience the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta—the largest hot air balloon festival and the most photographed event in the world. Conference goers can take advantage of a special partnership between RCI and Tour New Mexico to receive a discount on general admission and avoid the congested traffic and parking conditions of an event that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Visit retailconfectioners.org/balloonfiesta for more details.


2. Turn up the heat with the flavors of New Mexico.
Discover the distinctly local flavors of New Mexico, such as red and green chiles and piñon nuts, while touring innovative businesses who have distinguished themselves by utilizing these local ingredients to create unique products, during RCI’s popular behind-the-scenes tours. Long-time RCI member, Buffett’s Candies has developed a reputation for their use of piñon nuts, which is unique to the southwest region. Other tours will include the Buffett family’s Popcorn Cannery, where they manufacture over 20 flavors of popcorn. Attendees will also tour one of the largest coffee roasters in the state, New Mexico Piñon Coffee, praised for their sweet and nutty custom pinon-flavored blends. During tours, attendees will experience the production sides of these facilities in order to gain perspective and inspire new ideas to use in their own businesses.

3. Learn how to look at your business with fresh eyes.
Learn how a taking a different approach toward common business and industry concepts such as growth, leadership, communication, flavor development and sales can help you take your business to the next level in this thought-provoking lineup of education:

  • A Fresh Look at Growing a Business
  • Leadership: New Mexico Style
  • Learn the Language of Chocolate
  • Local Flavor: Truffle Demo
  • Optimizing Sales by Targeting Mobile

4. Watch authentic Flamenco come alive.
Experience the passion and energy of flamenco come alive during a private performance at Tablao Flamenco Albuquerque. Attendees will are sure to delight in the authentic Sevilla tapas served at this unique farewell reception Friday, October 6.

Although RCI has traveled to 35 states (plus Washington D.C.), 16 countries and four continents over the trade association’s lifetime, RCI  has never traveled to New Mexico. Making this a long-awaited destination for many members looking to gain inspiration from the state’s distinctive culture and heritage.

“You never know what will spark the next great idea. At RCI, we enjoy creating event experiences that encourage the generation of new ideas,” says Angie Burlison, RCI’s Executive Director. “We support many small-to-midsize businesses who can use flexibility to their advantage to implement such ideas as a means to standout in their communities, as well in the industry.”

Registration for RCI’s fall regional event is welcome to members and non-members online at retailconfectioners.org/fall. Additional event details such as schedule, registration and hotel information may also be found there.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tip # 235: Handle Customer Complaints Like a Pro

Customer service today is customer driven and in the world of social media, businesses need to be ready to respond.  Customers can share their frustrations online in real time, reaching a larger audience than just one or two. Learning to respond quickly and appropriately can often help with customer loyalty and retention.

Respond Quickly – It’s important to respond quickly on social media. It is hard to always respond to everything, but be sure to respond to at least 90% of disgruntled feedback.

Acknowledge Mistakes – Customers know that not everyone is perfect, which is why it is important if you know you were at fault to own up to that mistake. Doing so will likely gain the respect of this customer.

Communicate Offline – We have all seen disgruntled customers and business owners in a digital war of words and watched in dismay. If you are dealing with a very negative situation, take the conversation offline through a private message.

Get Personal – Customers often complain because they want you to respond and help resolve their issue. A personalized response from you or one of your team members will make a big difference in how they react to the response.

Go the Extra Mile – Don’t just resolve the issue with the customer, but take steps to go the extra mile. Give them a free item or offer something above what they are requesting.

Follow Up – Finally, follow up with the customer and make sure they are happy with your resolution.

You have great products and a great business; don’t let one customer complaint take over your social media presence. Take the time to put a plan in place to effectively respond when a complaint occurs and not only resolve the issue, but also retain a customer for life. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tip # 234: How to Apply Water Marbling Effect to Moulded Chocolates


For members looking to gain creative ideas at RCI’s 2017 Annual Convention & Industry Expo, Candy Clinic did not disappoint. Since the thirties, this member-exclusive event has allowed RCI members from across the United States, Canada and abroad to share their best ideas and gain inspiration from fellow candy makers. Keep reading for an idea that won the award for best innovation at the latest Candy Clinic.

Inspired by an associate’s manicured finger nails, RCI member Cher Diamond of Maurie’s Fine Chocolates of Madison, shared a creative technique for applying cocoa butter to moulded chocolates. Water marbling is a technique used to create a unique nail polish design by adding droplets of nail polish to water before applying it to the nail. A similar effect can be achieved with cocoa butter and water.

Start by filling a bowl with room temperature water. If you read tutorials online for water marbling, they recommend using filtered or bottled water. Get cocoa butter spray, shake it up and spray it into the water. Because the oils in cocoa butter resist the water, the cocoa butter will float on top of the water, allowing you to create a unique design with a variety of different colored cocoa butters. Drag a toothpick or other similar object through the cocoa butter, cleaning it after each use.

Once the desired marbleized effect is achieved, take a finished moulded piece or just the shell and run it through the cocoa butter. Let each moulded piece dry for three hours or overnight. You may finish the piece by applying a glaze spray, but according to Cher, the cocoa butter will not rub off or detemper the chocolate.

If you’re looking to create stunning chocolate pieces, give this simple and fun water marbling technique a try and let us know how it turns out by leaving a comment below.

Want to learn more innovative ideas like this one? Idea sharing is just one of the many benefits of membership with Retail Confectioners International (RCI)! Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Throwback Tip # 137: Tips for Making Caramel Stick to Apples


After recently wrapping up RCI’s second Caramels, Toffees & Brittles course, we want to share a favorite caramel apple tip.

Have you ever experienced problems with caramel slipping off your caramel apples? The wax on your apple may be the culprit. By simply wiping each apple with a damp cloth prior to dipping, you can remove the waxy residue that rests on the apples.

An apple naturally produces a waxy film to protect itself, however, in some instances additional food-grade wax is added by suppliers to further increase an apple’s shelf life. For this reason, it could save you time and effort to request unwaxed apples from your supplier, if they do add wax to their apples.

If that doesn’t help, consider adding white compound to your caramel at a 5 to 1 ratio to help it better adhere to the apple.

Caramel apple season is just around the corner, so we hope this quick and easy tip will help when making this customer favorite.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Throwback Tip # 127: Spark Creativity with a Mind Map


If you attended RCI’s Annual Convention & Industry Expo June12-16 in Chicagoland, there’s a good chance you took away a lot of great ideas and inspiration. After returning to your business, you might be feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do with the new knowledge you’ve acquired. Consider using a mind map to organize your thoughts and apply them to your business.

What is a mind map? It’s a diagram used to visually outline information. Typically it begins with a word, image or phrase in the center and then other ideas and images branch out from the center across the page.  One of the key benefits of a mind map is that an idea doesn’t have to be full or complete or even in sentence form in order to be displayed. The idea is that the process of a mind map resembles how your brain actually works!

Tips for an effective mind map:
  • Start with a large piece of paper (Give your brain room to think!)
  • Use images, not just words
  • Vary the size, color and alignment of your images and text
  • Keep topics and labels short (Think big picture.)

Mind maps are useful tools for individual creativity and also can help to get creative ideas flowing among a team of people. In your next team brainstorming session, consider using a whiteboard or oversized Post-it to map out ideas as they’re given and see where mind mapping can take you! If you prefer tech tools to paper versions, check out MindMeld or Mindmeister.


Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tip # 233: How to Know Chocolate is in Good Temper

Checking your temper is an important step to ensure you aren’t surprised by unsightly bloom or dull or tacky chocolates.

Chocolates that have a dull appearance may be over tempered, while rapid bloom or a tacky, greasy surface are indicators that chocolate is under tempered. Quit guessing and rest assured your chocolate is always in good temper with these two methods for checking your temper.

  1. The Blade Test: This method is quick, easy and budget friendly, however the results could vary on the temperature of the room.

    Simply dip a metal spatula or knife blade into the chocolate and leave a small film on the blade. At room temperature (65-68° F), well-tempered chocolate should be firm, not tacky, after just five minutes.
  2. Tempermeter: Although more costly, this method will most accurately measure the degree of tempering, indicating the quality and quantity of stable crystals that have been formed.

    Tempermeters produce a temperature versus time curve, resulting from uniform cooling of a chocolate sample over a specified period of time.
It may be easy to assume your chocolate is well tempered and ready to move into the assembly line, however, skipping this step could result in a costly mistake.

Choose a testing method that works best for you and put a plan in place to ensure your chocolate is being checked on a regular basis. Many of our candy maker members have a system in place to verify their chocolate’s temper every hour.

Connect with fellow confectioners and industry suppliers at RCI's Annual Convention & Industry Expo next month! Register online now and join us in Chicagoland June 12-16, 2017!