Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Oh, patents! A discontinued treat

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

In 2005, for just 4 years, Hershey produced milk-chocolate, candy-coated Kissables®. Kissables® were candy-coated mini Kisses®. However, the trick with chocolate Kissables® was how to coat the bite-sized confections, which had a pointed teardrop shape, in such a way that the confections were evenly coated to the very tip, while retaining the same tear-drop shape throughout the coating process.  

The invention reciting the coating process for chocolate Kissables® is recited in the US patent application  US20080026131A1, titled Process for preparing a sugar coating on an irregular shaped confection.

The patent recites both the formula of two crystallizable sugar coatings and the process for applying the coatings to the confections. A process that essentially comprises spraying of the coatings onto the confections, placed into a rotating pan. The formula of the coatings includes ingredients and quantities for gumming and smoothing syrups. The description of the process includes such details as the speed in feet/minute of the rotating pans containing the  chocolate confections, the proportion of air and formula solids atomized, the size of the atomizer nozzle through which the formula solids pass, the volume in microns of the droplets sprayed onto the confections, the atomizing air pressure in psi units, the dew point temperature of the atomization, such that it will allow the ingredients to dry properly on the surface of the confection -- without melting the chocolate center! 

Otherwise, Kissables® also had a bulging base (also termed rounded or curved out, or convex), intended to prevent the coated confections from sticking together in a production defect termed “doubling”. The contoured base was produced via known techniques in the confectioner’s art, prior to the coating processes of the invention. 

Below, the abstract of the patent application is included together with the patent drawing of the Kissable® confection. An image of the marketed product is included above. 

The present invention is directed to a process for forming a hard sugar coating on an irregularly shaped chocolate confection which tapers into a pointed tip on said confection on a non-base portion thereof, which comprises forming a rounded contour on the base thereof and applying at least two coating syrups and preferably three coating syrups onto the surface of the confections under specific conditions and optionally polishing said confection. The present invention is also directed to the product formed from the process.[Abstract US20080026131A1]

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Ruby Slipper

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann                                                                                                                                                                                

The American Association of Translators (ATA) 59th Annual Meeting was held this year in New Orleans, LA, Oct. 24-27, 2018.

If you attended, this was an occasion for breakfast at one of the city’s award-winning cafés, The Ruby SlipperOctober specials include Rasberry Nutella Stuffed French Toast, Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes, and Smokey Red Eye Benedict. 

Click here for the menu, which includes more than one sort of French Toast, Benedicts, Pancakes, and Between The Bread (sandwiches).

Bon appétit! 👠

The Ruby Slipper

Sunday, October 28, 2018

National Chocolate Day!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Time to celebrate all things chocolate -- in moderation according to UCSF Metabolic health and nutrition expert, researcher, and National best-selling author, Dr. R. Lustig (2017).

Please click here for a list of sweet chocolate freebies today, in celebration of National Chocolate Day 2018:  Godiva, Valrhona, Hershey’s Lindt, Mrs Field’s…  

Lustig, R. (2017)
The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Minds. New York, NY: Avery Publishing
Robert Lustig, MD
Tyko, K. (Oct 28) National Chocolate Day 2018: Where to save on sweet treats and get freebies Sunday. USA Today. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Terminology - Cocoa or Cacao?

 Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Are you wondering what the differences might be between cacao, and cocoa?

According to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), cocoa is "a variant or alteration of another lexical term". In this case, the etymon is cacao, a term borrowed from Spanish, which includes additional variants such as caccao, cacoacacao, cacaa, cacaw, cocao, and caco.

End of story, according to the definitive record of the English language. You might use both cacao and cocoa interchangeably, keeping your usage consistent if your writing is a bit formal.

However, the crowd begs to differ in regards the matter of "cacao vs. cocoa". Thus, the saga unfolds, and you might end up feeling variously: vindicated, baffled, indignant, amused, unsettled, a bit more confused, or plain frustrated.

Indeed, the matter of “cacao vs. cocoa” fetches 1,817,000 Google hits, of which the top-ranked tell a unified story of difference. In other words, If you are a raw foodist then the difference might actually appear quite significant. Or, at the very least, the difference may make gisted sense.  

Here are some of the crowd’s stories of the differences between the terms “cacao vs. cocao".
 “Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing un-roasted cacao beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cacao and removes the fat (cacao butter). Cocoa looks the same but it's not. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that's been roasted at high temperatures.” (Food Matters®)
“Some experts use “cacao” for the pods, beans and ground-up contents of the beans, reserving “cocoa” for the powder left after pressing the fat out of the ground beans.” (Healthline®)
"Despite coming from the same plant, cacao and cocoa have numerous differences. Cacao is a pure form of chocolate that comes very close to the raw and natural state in which it is harvested. […] Cocoa has been processed with high heat." (
“Cacao and cocoa may sound similar, but both of them are unique when it comes to taste, nutrition, and cost. […] Cacao is the purest form of chocolate you can consume, which means it is raw and much less processed than cocoa powder or chocolate bars […] Cocoa is the term used to refer to the heated form of cacao that you probably grew up buying at the store in the form of powder […](
"Cocoa powder, commonly used in baking, is made by fermenting, drying, and roasting the cacao bean.   It's then pressed until all of the oils are separated out and the solids that remain are turned into a dry powder. […] Cacao powder is made in a very similar manner.[…]  However, when it's cacao powder being made, the beans are processed at very low temperatures. This is why cacao is often referred to as "raw," as the temperature used are so low it still be considered raw." (Spoon University 
To complicate matters a bit more, at least for translation purposes. French uses the single term “cacao” with no variants in sight. The term “cacao” is used in reference to the tree (cacaotier), the pods roasted or not (fèves de cacao crues ou torréfiées), beverages (poudre de cacao pour chocolat chaud),  percentages in chocolate/candy bars (% de cacao) – It’s all –cacao-related or cacao-based.

The bottom line? The OED may prevent you from going crazy with possibilities. Alternatively, you might petition for revision, and/or conduct your own investigation. 

Incidentally, does the distinction “cacao vs.cocao” exist in the languages that you speak?

OED - cocoa
OED - cacao
Raw Cocoa vs Cacao: What's the difference?
Caco vs. Cocoa: What's the difference?
Cacao vs Cocoa: What's the difference?
Cacao vs Cocoa: What you need to know
Cacao vs. Cocoa: What's the difference?

Friday, October 19, 2018

Oh, patents! Oh, chocolate!

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

It is believed that cacao was introduced in Spain, and Europe, via the Conquistadores, during the 16th century. Cacao (from the cacao tree Theobroma cacao) is indigenous to equatorial America, where it was domesticated by the Aztecs, and the Maya and Toltecs before them, more than 3000 years ago. The etymology of the term “cacao” is derived from the Olmec term kakaw.  The etymology of the term “chocolate” is derived from the Nahuatl term xocoatl referring to a bitter fermented cacao bean beverage. The cacao tree was called cacahuacuchtl. Cacao beans were otherwise also used as currency and counting units.

In Europe, and the US, the processing of cacao beans into chocolate (powder, paste, butter or liquor) for nutrition  or other uses, includes a few landmark patented inventions, over the course of several centuries

In 1828, the Dutchman Coenraad Johannes Van Houten, invented the cacao press; and his son, a chemist, invented an alkalizing process. The cacao press enabled to extract the fat (cacao butter) from the ground and roasted cacao beans. The addition of an alkalizing agent to the nibs enabled to reduce the bitterness of the beans. The resulting pressed cacao cakes were then pulverized into a powder with enhanced properties of flavor and dispersion (Morse, 2015).   

In turn, milk or water could then easily be added to the processed cacao powder for everyday cooking and the manufacture of chocolate products (beverages, baked goods, desserts etc.). Van Houten’s distinctive Dutch-processed (i.e. alkalized)  cacao powder is still marketed and enjoyed to date. .A marketed box of Van Houten cacao powder is included above

Van Houten’s vertical cacao press invention was recited in a Dutch patent granted by the Dutch monarch, William I. Van Houten's vertical press is also recited in the 1916  British patent GB102009 (A)  titled Method of and Apparatus for Discharging Press Boxes in Hydraulic Presses. 

The abstract of the British C. J. Van Houten vertical chocolate press patent is included below, together with a patent drawing. The patent drawing illustrates the assembled vertical press with its swinging stack of cake drawers and central hydraulic cylinder. 
Fats and fatty oils, extracting by pressure.- Relates to means for discharging the cakes from the press-boxes of hydraulic presses used, for example, for extracting oil from cacao. The pressboxes 10 are adapted to be slid along ledges 14, on which they are supported in the pressing position above the ram 2, on to ledges 9 on side frames 5, 6. Swinging arms 27 supported on vertical spindles 20, 21 are brought beneath the press-boxes, and the spindles are raised by hydraulic devices 26 or other lifting-devices to lift the cakes from the boxes. In the press shown, the press-boxes are drawn out alternately at opposite sides, and filled boxes are drawn into the pressing position from the opposite side frames. The press-boxes may be adapted to be swung from one position to the other, instead of being slid.  [Abstract GB102009 A1]

Encyclopedia Britannica Academic – Article on chocolate
Moser, A. (2015) Alkalizing cacao and chocolate.  In The Manufacturing Confectionner, pp. 31-38
Van Houten

Monday, October 8, 2018

Oh, patents! Cafe X Robotic Coffee Bar

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Cappucino anyone? Caffe latte? Espresso?

The connected Mitsubishi 6-axis robotic arm at a Cafe X Robotic Coffee Bar will prepare your cup of coffee, and dispense it to you through one of several delivery bays, without human intervention, in a just few seconds, without waiting in line. 

Customized orders are placed via the Cafe X app, including your estimated pick-up time. Your coffee is then brewed just before you arrive for pick-up. If for some reason you are unable to pick-up within a certain lapse of time, a connected Cafe X Robotic Coffee Bar even throws out your coffee, and brews another cup for your new estimated pick-up time, free of charge

Considered a very high-end office vending machine or the “ultimate amenity for an office building lobby”, a connected Cafe X Robotic Coffee Bar brews coffee that is locally roasted, using local roaster and barista recipes, further calibrated with (human) taster ratings. The connected Cafe X Robotic Coffee Bar may also use different sorts of locally sourced premium milk (cow, soy, almond etc.)

The connected Cafe X Robotic Coffee Bar invention is recited in a family of patents that includes the patent applications US20170011442A1 and WO2017008726A1, both titled Method and system for automated food and beverage serving

The connected Cafe X Robotic Coffee Bar invention seeks to address several problems of the prior art of both automated and non-automated food and beverage services. In particular, the invention seeks to resolve such issues, as miscommunication (i.e. when a customer orders one item and receives another), miscoordination of services (ie. when first-come, first-served orders, are incorrectly tracked), unprofitable costs of rental space and labor required for the production and delivery of the beverage services, excessive wait time for delivery of services, and absence of customization. 

The Cafe X Technologies Inc.; invention comprises a central controller, coupled to memory-storage means for programmed instructions that can be executed. The instructions are able to process an order received from a customer. Another control system is connected to the central controller able to execute the customer order instructions using a robotic arm and various item-producing components, which together prepare the ordered item. The control system is further configured to position the order in a hold-zone, and to move an item in the hold-zone to the delivery bay engine, for service to the customer, who has arrived for pick-up (and keyed in a 4 digit pin).

The connected Cafe X Robotic Coffee Bar costs about US $50,000, dispenses about 250 cups per day, and thus is estimated to pay for itself in about 3 months. Compared to Starbucks revenues per square foot, estimated at US $342, the connected Cafe X Robotic Coffee Bar is estimated to generate US $10,000 per square foot. Compared to the average 10 minutes per cup wait time at a non-automated service location, the connected Cafe X Robotic Coffee Bar delivers 60 times faster. Most importantly, the connected Cafe X Robotic Coffee Bar is designed to deliver a premium quality that is anticipated to dissuade customers from waiting for their usual favorite cup of coffee.

The abstract for US20170011442A1 is included below, together with an image of the marketed (first generation) Cafe X Robotic Coffee Bar. The YouTube video above shows the robotic barista in action.
Disclosed is a system and method for automated serving of one or more items. According to the system and method, a central controller may initially capture order details associated to an order placed by a user for serving an item. A control system may trigger one or more item producing components along with a robot unit to collectively process the order in order to produce the item based upon the order details. Further, the control system may determine a hold zone position available from multiple hold zone positions in a predefined hold zone for holding the item corresponding to the order. Further, the robot unit may move the item produced corresponding to the order in the said hold zone position of the hold zone. The robot unit may dispense the item from the said hold zone position into a delivery bay engine thereby serving the item to the user.[Abstract US20170011442A1]
CAFE X Robotic Coffee Bar

Friday, October 5, 2018

Oh, patents ! Leonardo the Zume pizza cutter bot

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Leonardo the pizza cutter is a Zume invention patented in US20180071939A1, titled Systems and method related to a food-item cutter and associated cover.

This invention resolves the pervasive problem of having to use a clean knife to cut food, notably when the knife is cutting different pizza pies produced on a cobotic assembly line. Thus, the invention recites, in particular, a plurality of radially assembled metal blades, extending from a central axis, together with their radially assembled silicone wipers. The blades are extendable and retractable, piston-activated and motorized. Each blade extends and retracts between the gap formed by two triangular plates, perpendicular to the blade, radially positioned, attached with brackets to a frame, and between which a pair of opposing wipers are detachably assembled. The wipers are assembled in a “V” shape, relative to the blade in extended (Fig. 14), or retracted (Fig. 15 ) positions.

The cutter assembly is further supported by a frame and a cover. The base of the cover consists of a drawer, equipped with a back wall, designed to activate a sensor when the drawer is closed. The drawer translates between three positions: open, closed and cutting when the drawer is aligned with the blades. A handle on the drawer may include an ON and OFF switch for user-activated cutting. An override switch is included on the cover, which in the ON position prevents the blades from extending. A display on the cover may provide such information as the pressure applied in the cutting and the number of times the blade has extended, relative to the last time the blades were cleaned.

The abstract of this invention is included below, together with Figure 1 of the patent showing an isometric view of the mechanical cutter assembly, according to one embodiment of the invention.

Systems and methods are disclosed for cutting a food item when preparing it to be served to a customer. In some implementations, the cutting system may include a cover that may be used to at least partially surround a portion of the cutting system. The cover may include one or more doors, drawers, or other movable components that may be used to engage the cutting assembly of the cutting system by activating one or more sensors located along or proximate to the path traveled by the movable component. The movable component may activate the sensor when the movable component has appropriately positioned the food item under the cutting assembly to be cut. Additionally, the cover may include one or more user-engageable switches that may be used to selectively engage cutting assembly when the movable component of the cover is appropriately positioned to be cut by the cutting assembly.  [Absract US20180071939A1]

Zume Pizza Inc.