Tuesday, May 24, 2022
EntertainmentFood and DrinkNo ‘sweet’ for record-breaking honeycomb ladies

No ‘sweet’ for record-breaking honeycomb ladies

AN ABERDEENSHIRE duo with a passion for honeycomb-making have hit a new personal best after working together to produce nearly two tonnes of the sweet treat over just five single shifts.  

Deirdre Henderson and Louise Hunter have been creating honeycomb at the on-site sweetie kitchen at Mackie’s of Scotland’s fourth generation family farm for a combined total of 24 years, hand-making around 66-tonnes each year.

The dedicated pair recently hit a huge milestone after making 1,985kg of honeycomb in a single week, as demand soars following major new listings in England and Wales.

The product is a key ingredient in several of Mackie’s leading products.

The largest pieces go into its honeycomb ice cream, with smaller sized pieces in honeycomb chocolate bars – and even the remaining “dust” is infused with natural orange oils to use in its orange chocolate.

Louise, who has been a Mackie’s employee for 13 years and worked in the sweetie kitchen for 10, was one of the first people to start making honeycomb at the business.

Louise, from Rothienorman, just five miles from the Mackie’s farm, said: “Deirdre and I like a challenge and were not too worried when we saw that the production team were forecast to need more Honeycomb than usual.

“I was delighted when our daily diary proved that we’d made nearly two tonnes in such a short amount of time – it’s very satisfying to have kept up and delivered.

“I was one of the very first people to start making honeycomb at Mackie’s and to this day, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Louise also encouraged her sons, Scott and Ricky Warren, 26 and 22 respectively, to join the family firm.

Scott works nightshifts in the moulding machine room making Mackie’s ice cream tubs, while Ricky is a forklift driver, moving products around the production and storage areas. 

Deirdre, from Turiff, just 10 miles from the farm, came to Mackie’s to join her older brother, Alan Raeburn, 70, who retired from working on the farm just two years ago after being employed as a tractor driver for 50 years, having joined Mackie’s the year Dierdre was born.

Another longstanding member of the team, at Mackie’s since 1999, Deirdre started in the sweetie kitchen nine years ago.

She said: “I was inspired by my brother to join Mackie’s and I haven’t looked back since. I love my job.

“My favourite thing about it is that it’s a family run business, and we’re treated almost like family too. A lot of us are from the local area and it’s a sociable job, which makes for a nice environment to work in.

“Making the honeycomb can be challenging in the summer months because of how hot it gets in the sweetie kitchen, but me and Louise are always up to the challenge. The toughest part is putting up with each other on a daily basis!”

Also known around the world as cinder toffee, seafoam or hokey pokey, the sweet and crunchy toffee is created by bringing sugar, water and glucose to the boil at a toasty 158 degrees Celsius for forty minutes.

The mixture is then taken off the heat and bicarbonate is quickly stirred in with a giant spoon, so that the bubbles of air are produced, before the hot mix is spread evenly on to a long cooling table, where it hardens in under 10 minutes.

Louise and Dierdre then break it up by hand and Dierdre puts the pieces through a chopper machine and then a sieve to separate the different sized pieces.

The process was recently celebrated on an episode of Inside The Factory, which saw Gregg Wallace meet Louise and Deirdre to speak about their integral role in the production of honeycomb ice cream – the product which the show followed through each step of its creation.

Louise added: “My favourite thing is when we get told we have a number of big batches coming up and Deirdre and I just pull up our sleeves and deliver.

“It’s very satisfying looking at an order and just knowing that we can do it.

“Recently, there’s been a big increase in demand for our honeycomb due to increased listings of the ice cream and chocolate, and we are continually stepping up to the challenge. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Honeycomb is currently Mackie’s second most popular ice-cream flavour, stocked in all major supermarkets across the UK.

Related Stories