What could be more Christmassy than a jolly plump man in a red hat overseeing a workshop of busy employees churning out Christmas treats?
Enter Gregg Wallace to take us on a tour of the Christmas Factory, which this year is the birth place of the Green Triangle, the Purple One and the Toffee Penny – the Quality Street factory in Halifax.
We start with a tanker of molten milk chocolate being driven into the factory and connected to a hose that pumps it out at a strictly controlled temperature.
The hose is not quite so wide that Augustus Gloop could squeeze himself into it – and the factory is not quite Willy Wonka’s magical world of edible flowers and tea cups – but it’s hard not to draw comparisons with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as the velvety liquid is pumped inside and row upon row of sweets make their way along the conveyor belt to be “enrobed” in it. What a perfect word for the moment a toffee finger has melted chocolate draped over it.
We also see the other method of chocolate making – moulding – in action; the chocolate casing is made first then filled with its soft, flavoured centre. That applies to the undisputed king of Quality Street, the Purple One, which is then wrapped in its regal attire by a machine faster at twisting sweet wrappers than any Oompa Loompa.
Whether or not they’re your go-to festive treats (for me a full-sized Chocolate Orange is the essential stocking filler), there’s no denying that Quality Street are synonymous with Christmas in the UK and the finished products in their shiny, brightly coloured wrappers look as much like something you might use to decorate your tree as they do something you’d eat.
Speaking of which, Gregg’s co-host Cherry Healy is off to see actual Christmas tree decorations being made in a process almost as pleasing as the chocolate making. Other festive interludes include a look at the history of Christmas pantos and turkeys, and Cherry finds that icing gingerbread men is actually more challenging than making blown-glass baubles (her gingerbread bad Santa looks like he’d as soon slit your throat as give you a present).
But it’s Gregg and the Chocolate Factory (no, it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it) that we keep coming back to, and as the mounds of glittering, multi-coloured sweets finally slide into their tins, your name would have to be Ebenezer Scrooge not to feel that the Christmas spirit is upon you.
Inside the Christmas Factory is on Monday 17th December at 9pm on BBC2