As a kid, one of my favorite parts of Sesame Street was when they’d do a segment on how bottles get made or candy bars get wrapped. To this day, I’m fascinated by the machines that turn raw or partially completed materials into the consumer goods we see in the store. These days we’re absolutely swamped by high quality sleekly designed super-processed goods. These things appear magically, having been created far far away and cheaply transported to to our fingertips. We lose touch with how their many pieces emerge from the muck and came together. Some people think the way to fight this modern materialistic loss of connection to the earth is to renounce technology, live in a dark cabin, and grow your own food. I think it’s much easier and more entertaining to visit the factories where goods are made. After all, the connection to the earth is still there. It’s just more roundabout. That only makes sorting it all out that much more fun.
The Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing at Stanford has assembled a remarkable collection of videos on how everyday items are made. Check out the video on jellybeans. It takes up to nine days to make a Jelly Belly jellybean. Even more bizarre than that is the fact that Hot Buttered Popcorn is the most popular Jelly Belly flavor. Who knew?