It started with a typo. When drafting a personal essay, Candy Mechanics co-founder Sam Part, then a graphic design student at London’s Kingston University, noticed he had accidentally described himself as a “lickable” guy, rather than a “likeable” one, and was struck with an idea: wouldn’t it be kind of cool to have a lollipop in his own likeness?
Most of us would dismiss that thought as a kind of whimsical bathtub musing, but Part sensed he was on to something—the concept of carving people’s faces into chocolate lollipops seemed too fun to resist. So, in 2015, Part co-founded food tech startup company Candy Mechanics with partner Ben Redford in collaboration with William Leigh, former chief taster at Green & Black’s chocolate. With the goal of creating hyper-customized confectionary products, the team set up a workshop at the Makerversity campus in London’s Somerset House, which offers co-working space and prototype facilities to emergent inventors, and developed the technology to make 3-D chocolate lollipop replicas of people’s heads. A six-week trial run at Selfridges department store in April 2015 confirmed the concept’s merit; folks lined up to have their craniums 3-D scanned and printed (not by a 3-D printer but a Computer Numerical Control [CNC] mill which in-house engineer Chris Tait custom built using open source hardware). The process takes under five minutes, and “people were going crazy watching their heads emerge from the chocolate,” Part laughs.
These “chocolate selfies” are the world’s first 3-D consumable product created from a smartphone.
As of December 2016, Candy Mechanics launched their Lolpops to order online (with a limited, pre-Christmas run and more to come). Customers can use their smartphone cameras to make a scan of their own head, which the company then renders as a 3-D model and recreates in ethically-sourced milk or white chocolate, finished with a spray of edible gold. These “chocolate selfies” are the world’s first 3-D consumable product created from a smartphone. “All of this has never been done, we’re the only company doing it,” says Part, who hopes to soon offer portraits in hard candy, jelly, and fudge as well as chocolate. “We hope to grow as a futuristic candy shop where you can create tech-based candy using all sorts of ingredients,” he says. It’s a likeable pursuit—and a lickable one, too.
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