Friday, December 21, 2018

Hershey Kisses and unintended consequences

Did you hear that the iconic Hershey's Kiss is having a bad year?

Bakers are reporting that the chocolate confections have the very tips broken off, altering their look and thus changing the longstanding look of some homemade cookies this holiday season.

Apparently customer service told some bakers that the tips were removed intentionally, to avoid the collection of small bits of chocolate in the bags.

If this is true, no doubt the change to the production process sounded like a great way to solve a vexing problem. Tiny chocolate bits in a bag and in a packaging process are annoying and seem like they could cause problems for bagging machinery or other areas. So, proactively eliminating all of these delicate tips on the chocolate candy must have seemed like a great solution. After all, the iconic shape for the kiss was only created because of the process used by the machines (the name itself came from the chocolate machinery "kissing" the conveyor belt, leaving the confections behind). So, the very tip of the chocolate isn't something of value to the customer. Right?

It seems like this side effect of the original process was indeed of value, or it became so over time and perhaps unbeknownst to the engineering team. A process "improvement" had an unintended change to the aesthetic quality of the product and likely caused far more trouble than it prevented.

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