“I was rescued by persistence, perseverance and the ability to use the moment of luck presented by fate in time”. How Enric Bernat came up with a candy worthy of space travel
Collage: Salvador Dali / Enric Bernat
Once Enric Bernat, the grandson of the founder of the confectionery company Granja Asturias and the first caramel producer in Spain, observed an unpleasant picture in the store: the baby could not cope with a large candy. He licked and bit it, twisted it in his hands, and then wiped his dirty, sticky hands on his smart shirt. The young mother gasped and gave the baby a slap upside the head. Both the baby and the mother began to cry.
Enric Bernat was indignant – what was wrong with these sweets? Why does caramel, which should bring joy to babies, become a stumbling block and a frequent hotbed of conflict? He was determined to do something about it, but didn’t know what yet.
Enric Bernat was born in Barcelona. Since childhood, he was indifferent to confectionery as a consumer – fortunately, there were always molasses, sugar and caramel mixtures in the house. But every day his family discussed methods of cooking sugar, technological features and additives to caramel. Willy-nilly, he listened to all discussions and was imbued.
When he was 11 years old, difficult times came. The Spanish Civil War made the boy fall in love with sweets – firstly, there were few of them, and secondly, they had to be made by hand, sold to neighboring children, so that the family somehow made ends meet. Enric Bernat made mini-cakes from grain, almonds and hazelnuts, looked for sweet roots in the forest, ground them in a hand mill to perfect the recipes. And so he slowly became interested in the confectionery business.
At the age of 25, he started his own business – he baked cookies, made lemonades and cold coffee drinks, produced candy-dragees, and also made marzipans. But evetything was not the ultimate dream of Enric Bernat. For all the seasonal proceeds, he ordered a marketing study to understand what the ideal candy should be that would make him rich, become family pride and save mothers and children from unpleasant situations.
He found the solution himself. Enric came up with the idea of selling a small wooden fork with caramel and was pleased with himself. There was still time before the legendary Chupa Chups candy on a stick.
WITH THE HELP OF DALI
The fork was uncomfortable, it got lost, and the candy slid and fell. Enric Bernat thought a little more and decided to replace the fork with a stick, and firmly attaching it to the candy. And he made not a 45-gram candy, as Spanish children are used to, but a small one that could easily fit into the mouth.
Another rule of Enric Bernat’s caramel was the complete absence of chemical ingredients in the composition. He used only natural colors and essences, experimenting with juices, peels and edible plants.
When the pastry chef sold the first 40 caramels on a stick, his happiness knew no bounds. A week later, the owners of the grocery stalls demanded to bring a box of lollipops of different tastes: strawberry, lemon, strawberry with cream, orange, mint, coffee with cream.
And then Bernat set his condition – his caramel must necessarily be on the counter, at the level of children’s eyes, in beautiful glasses, so that customers can see the goods on their faces. Such a little trick has increased the sales of sweets at times.
At first, the hereditary pastry chef came up with the name Gol – hinting at the ball that ends up in the net – in the mouth, and wishing to play on the Spanish passion for football. However, the ad agency suggested the name Chups (Spanish for “lick”). The first radio advertisement was “Chupa, Chupa el Chupa Chups”, and in 1961 the candy was renamed as it is now.
To push the caramel outside the domestic market by changing the logo, Enric Bernat turned to his friend, the surrealist artist Salvador Dali. In a cafe, on a napkin, he sketched a yellow daisy, in the center of which he wrote the name – Chupa Chups. Enric Bernat clapped his hands – the idea of placing the logo on top of the candy seemed revolutionary to him.
When Dali was asked why he took part in the creation of a new brand, he was honest: “For the money!”
At the end of the 20th century, Enric Bernat’s company sold the 40 billionth lollipop. I must say that over the years, the candy has not changed much. Well, except that the stick has become not wooden, but plastic, and the number of tastes has exceeded a hundred.
Enric Bernat became rich and successful, and his chupa-chups, willy-nilly, advertised stars and TV heroes – for example, in the TV series about Detective Kojak, which was released in the 70s. Famous people appeared with lollipops in their mouths on bright posters: Madonna, Michael Jackson, George Clooney, Britney Spears. And now they appear.
The candy on a stick has become a cult and even flew into space – to the International Space Station Mir.
“In order to do what I did, it took neither special intelligence nor genius”, Enric Bernat shrugged his shoulders, sometimes talking to journalists. “Other qualities helped me out: persistence, perseverance and the ability to use the moment of luck given to me by fate in time”.
He believed that fate is a locomotive that rushes without stopping.
“And when it zips past you, you have to grab the handrail and jump on the step. To do this, one must foresee and anticipate such a moment”, said Bernat. He managed to jump on his bandwagon and immortalized his own name with the legendary candy on a stick.