Dundee’s own ‘Willy Wonka’ has used 60 years’ experience in sweet making to help a firm create its first new chocolate bar to hit the shelves in six years.
Derek Shaw, famed for his Shaw’s of Dundee sweet shop and factory, has had a hand in the creation of a new orange chocolate bar from Aberdeenshire confectionary brand Mackie’s.
The 73-year-old confectionary consultant had been tasked with helping the firm to ramp up its honeycomb production.
During this visit Derek realised the team had a perfect opportunity to infuse honeycomb “dust” – a by-product after grading honeycomb shards for its ice cream and chocolate – with natural oils from oranges to create a “truly special ingredient”.
Derek said: “It’s something I have always had a thing about. There are lots of orange chocolate bars out there but none of them taste like orange in my opinion.
“I first went up to Mackie’s to do honeycomb and I did a special one for going into ice cream. It worked out a treat and it’s selling very well.
“I was back up again a little while ago and I persuaded them to try an orange chocolate bar. They went for it and it’s now being launched. Now we can sit back and wait to see what happens.
“When I was a boy at my first job we developed a knack for flavouring honeycomb, which was rare then and even more so now as it is really tricky to get right.
“The tiny fragments that Mackie’s produce are absolutely perfect for taking on the intense orange flavour from the natural oils. The Mackie family were really up for trying it out.
“Unlike most orange-flavoured chocolate, it tastes incredibly natural, just like the real thing. It takes three days to fully infuse, but it’s well worth it.”
New flavour a winner
And the sweet guru believes the new flavour will be a winner.
He said: “It’s got that kick of an orange. I’m very pleased with it.
“We have gone back to the Victorian times to get that flavour right. The Victorians were the kings of sweet making, not chocolate, more boiled sweets.
“They were the guys who really kicked off the sweet business as we know it today. It was great fun doing it – and I enjoy a bit of chocolate too.”
Founding Shaw’s Sweet Factory
Derek started his confectionery career aged 13 as an “odd jobs boy” at Margerum’s in his native Kent, before becoming an apprentice at 15, eventually marrying the company owner’s daughter Gloria, with whom he now has two children and four grandchildren.
He moved to Dundee in 1981 to work for the famous Keiller’s factory, before opening Shaw’s Sweet Factory in 1989.
Still residing in the city, he is now “semi-retired”, while still working with major brands like Mackie’s, driven on by his love of confectionery.
Kirstin Mackie, development director at Mackie’s of Scotland, said: “We’ve worked with Derek for many years now and he helped us to develop our own ‘honeycomb’, which is similar to cinder toffee and puff candy.
“He has an amazing mix of creativity, passion and an unmatched experience in confectionery. It’s a real honour to work with him.
“We’re thrilled with the new flavour and can’t wait for it to hit shop shelves in the coming weeks.”