Whenever I find myself stripping the silvery foil from a Tunnock's Teacake I am reminded of the part in Roald Dahl's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where Charlie Bucket peels back the foil on his Wonka Bar to uncover the Golden Ticket!
Scotland's very own chocolate factory has been in the business since 1890, when the first Tunnock's bakery was formed. When I was invited to tour the iconic factory last month, to say I jumped at the chance is a complete understatement!
Greeted at the factory by gigantic version of wafers and teacakes, I knew we were going to be in for a treat. The entire foyer was covered in all sorts of Tunnock's memorabilia dating way back to current times. Tunnock's really is an integral part of the community in Uddingston where the factory stands.
We were invited to meet with Sir Boyd Tunnock and got to congratulate him in person on his knighthood. After a wee blether he summoned his wonderful factory manager to give us a tour of the factory itself.
Now, I'm afraid I wasn't able to take pictures of this part of the visit, top secret, but I'll do my best to describe the wonders that I saw!
As I stepped into the huge 'snowball room' Boyd was shouting over the tannoy 'Bonnie Bling your snowballs are ready, Bonnie Bling your snowballs are ready', I was grinning from ear to ear already.
There are so many different parts to this family run operation; from the wafer machines, the mallow mixers, sugar syrup taps, chocolate pourers, and the friendly and smiling staff who work hard to bring us the perfect products that you see on your shop shelves.
It is really mind blowing to think that the ideas that came from the Tunnock's family here in Scotland, have become this global, modern, technical and tasty reality!
Machines firing high speed Caramel Wafers into those iconic gold and red wrappers, chocolate snowballs being heat sealed then carefully arranged by robotic arms and placed perfectly into their packaging boxes, teacakes being sorted into sets of six, again with robotic assistance then to be sorted into their ever popular six-pack boxes and off to the packing and delivery rooms.
I cannot convey to you how truly magical it was to walk from the smell of coconut in the snowball room, to the melted chocolate in the caramel wafer room, what a sensory experience.
About half way through our tour a 'HONK' of a horn sounded and who spins round the corner but Boyd himself on his bright yellow electric scooter to show us around the rest of the factory.
He took such time with me describing the mechanics of all the different machines, talking about how and where they are made and relating to my own struggles with machine maintenance and on the importance of investing in ideas. I was so inspired, and it wasn't even over yet!
After our tour, we were driven by an ACTUAL REAL LIFE KNIGHT, Boyd himself of course, in his Rolls Royce, over to the Tunnock's bakery on the Main Street in Uddingston.
We walked past some young faces sat at their tables in the cafe, keenly smiling at 'Mr Tunnock' making an appearance. We were invited to the private dining room to have lunch with him.
You will never guess what we had for lunch? I was delighted to discover that Tunnock's scotch pie, with beans, chips and a cold can of Irn Bru were the menu 'du jour' and as we ate, Boyd told us some stories of his travel's around Scotland, there were a few fabulous tales told.
My favourite part was when he ripped a square off our paper placemats and told me how his father had shown him how to turn it into a piping cone to decorate biscuits when he was a boy. Now I know the secret, maybe I'll be making my own now!
Then it was back in the Rolls Royce but we were blocked in! The bin lorry was in the process of emptying the rubbish from the bins behind the car, so Mr Tunnock got out and had a chat with the guys, popped the trunk on the Rolls, and handed over a huge box of teacakes for them all! What a superstar!
Then it was time to return to the factory where we were very kindly given a goody bag filled with treats to take home and enjoy with our families.
What an incredible day Blingers. It's one I will remember very fondly, I am honoured I got to take up so much of Mr. Tunnock's time, he is clearly still a very busy man and has a fantastic sense of humour which I really enjoyed seeing. I hope I still enjoy my work as much as he does when I am older.
If you'd like your own tour of the factory then the waiting list is currently TWO YEARS LONG!!! So better get your names down early ;)
For some other Tunnock's goodies, don't forget to check out our talented pals