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Crafting Sweet Delights: How the Colombina Candy Confectionery Came to Be

July 19, 2023
Step into the flavor-filled story of Colombina's origins, its sweet creations, expansion process, and a little behind the scenes into its current day operation

When you think of a candy factory, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Colorful ingredients, industrial machines, sugar by the hundreds, molasses, bright wrappings? All of those would be correct; however, our Colombian snacks and candy have a little extra something that makes them what they are—a secret ingredient that elevates their flavor to the highest. This secret is none other than 90 years of family tradition. 

 

A smiling confectionery craftsman stands amidst boxes of packaged candy assortments in the Colombina Candy Confectionary Plant.

 

For almost a century, Colombina's factories have evolved into what they are today through pure creativity, craftsmanship, and confectionery expertise. What began as a man's dream is now a multinational candy confectionery giant, daring to push flavor unimaginably. Join us as we explore the story and inner workings of Colombina's candy company and discover the magic that goes into crafting your favorite sweets.


It All Began With One Idea: Delicious And Authentic Fruit-Flavored Candies

Hernando Caicedo was born in 1890 in Palmira, near the regional capital of Cali, in Colombia. His ground-breaking transformation from farmer into businessman would lead him to start a family business that has become Colombia's biggest sugar producer and the founder of the now world-renowned Colombina

Growing up in a primordially agricultural area, he knew firsthand about the region's natural richness, ideal temperatures, and high-quality fertile lands. He explored different recipes and used his expertise with sugar and produce to turn Colombia's tropical fruits into fancy hard candy delicacies. 

In 1935, Caicedo launched these fruity delights and named them colombinas. He got the inspiration for the name from the charming characters, Pierrot and Colombina, featured in Leoncavallo's opera Pagliacci, which had been presented in Cali in 1921. These first products began his life-long mission to push Colombian candy into breaking the mold and explore what the tropical region of his childhood could offer the world. 


Taking Traditional Sweets To New Markets: A Tale Of Innovative Flavors

As time passed, his son, Jaime Hernando Caicedo, inherited Caicedo's vision and carried the family business into new territories. Colombina grew more prominent than his father imagined by creating new products and exploring novel markets. 

In the 60s, European production techniques were brought to the Colombina factories, allowing them to make sweet fillings with natural and regional fruits. This enabled them to stop using artificial essences and added pride to their national operation. This aspect of Colombina's candy made it unique and highly competitive to enter new markets. 

 

Craftsman hand-mixing gold and red sugar fruity paste to create fancy hard candy and sweet treats at the Colombina Candy confectionary workshop.

 

The Caicedo family's bet to push flavor forward led to Colombina quickly outgrowing the domestic market and entering countries with solid confectionery brands. By the middle of the decade, Colombina was the first South-American factory to compete with European and American confectionery in the U.S. candy market.

This spirit to innovate has been imprinted in the company's DNA, in which anticipating emerging trends to stay ahead has become second nature and a fundamental business goal. This also led them to create some of their most iconic products, which remain to this day beloved best sellers. 

Before diving into that, we'd love for you to look into our latest, most innovative sweets. Browse our online store, where our confectionary experts encapsulate joy into sweet delights to surprise your taste buds! 


Our All-stars are Born: Bubble-Gum Filled Lollipops 

10 years have passed, the decade is now the 70s, and as the world is daring into a new age, so is Colombina. Inspired by the decade's fun, fearless and exciting atmosphere, Colombina once again pushed the boundaries to create unconventional Colombian Treats that spark joy in everyone who tries them. 

The first of these was Bon Bon Bum. This delectable lollipop had a new component that wowed the brand's customers so much it tripled sales in its first year. This lollipop had a hard shell and fruity and intense exterior, which slowly gave way to a chewy bubble gum center, doubling the fun and creating a burst of new flavor in the consumer's palate. As the first of its kind, Bon Bon Bum became a brand staple that has remained an absolute favorite for over 50 years. 

 

Close-up view of Colombina machinery in action, manufacturing delectable fruit-flavored Bon Bon Bum lollipops.

 

Feel free to take a little break from our story and check out some of the more daring and exotic Bon Bon Bum flavors we've developed through the years.


A New Authentic Latin American Candy Emerges: Coffee Delight

The second staple that was developed in the '70s was none other than Coffee Delight. Made out of real Colombian Coffee, this Colombina treat focused on transforming one of Colombia's main export products and turning it into a modern candy. 

It quickly proved to be a success. Coffee Delight rapidly became a Colombian icon, allowing Colombians to enjoy the sweeter side of coffee on the go. Its imagery focused on elevating the country's coffee tradition, and its uniquely creamy and sweet flavor rapidly became a favorite among Colombian hearts.

If you want to know more about our history and the many different stages Colombina has gone through, we recommend reading a sweet little round-up of our history


Step Into The Places Where Our Colorful Colombina Candy Is Made

Although it has massively grown in the past 90 years, Colombina's day-to-day operation has, in essence, remained similar since its founding. Innovation and flavor are still the company's fuel, and its motivation to diversify into the candy and sweets universe has only grown bigger and bigger. 

As a result, what started as a small production company has now grown into seven production plants. Three of these are responsible for producing, packaging, and shipping all our sweet treats, from chewy candies to hard candies. So let's start at the beginning. 

 

Aerial view of La Paila Candy Factory in Valle del Cauca, Colombia, where Colombina's wide range of confectionery products are expertly crafted.

 

La Paila, located in Zarzal, Valle del Cauca, is known as the largest candy factory in Colombia and one of the world's largest roofed hard candy factories. It's here where initially, a team of 20 employees had the duty of producing 4 million Bon Bon Bum every month. Today, in this identical factory, 200 workers manufacture over 40 times this amount. 

With more than two thousand people working there, millions of sour candies, assorted candies, and fruit-filled hard candy get made daily, many of which are still mixed and prepared by hand to maintain their delicious taste and quality.

Furthermore, this production plant operates 100% with renewable energies. And it has been certified under the zero waste program, ensuring as little environmental impact as possible. If you're curious about La Paila's operation, we recommend diving into Ingrid Rojas' article for the New York Times; her inspirational words and Christopher Payne's delicious photographs will delight your eyes just as much as we strive to entertain your taste buds! 


Tropical Fruit Drops to Colombina Mints made worldwide

 

Close-up of a production tray filled with jumbo ball-shaped Colombina Candy mints in red and white colors, showcased within the confectionery factory.

 

Apart from La Paila and another three confectionery and production plants in Colombia dedicated to cookies, cakes, wafers, sauces, and ice cream, Colombina has two other plants based in Guatemala and Spain dedicated to candy-making. Strategically based to help streamline distribution to the more than 80 countries we operate in, these two plants are also responsible for creating many candy assortments.

In 2001 Colombina inaugurated the Guatemala plant, which is a modern industrial complex dedicated to serving the regions of Central America and the Caribbean. Like the other Colombian-based plants, this plant has rigorous quality control measures to maintain consistency and excellence in every batch of candy produced. 

Years later, in 2015, Colombina bought FIESTA, a well-established candy confectionery in Alcala de Henares, Spain, for a whopping 16.8 million euros. With this strategic move, the Colombian candy giant expanded its market. It acquired a new setting for its intricate art of candy making by creating sweet treats and all sorts of hard, chewy, and fruit-filled candy and lollipops. 


90 Years Transforming Ingredients Into Mouthwatering Confectionery Products

From the magic of candy making to the history of our most beloved creations and the meticulous quality control measures, this article has given you a glimpse into the captivating world of Colombina. As a company, we strive to elevate our creations to new levels of deliciousness, taking our candy from Colombia to the world and bringing people together through innovative, delicious, and daring flavors. Our mission remains as strong as it was when Hernando Caicedo founded Colombina to push the boundaries of flavor, enchant taste buds worldwide and spark joy for many generations. 

So next time you savor a piece of our candy, we hope you'll have a deeper understanding of the craftsmanship, passion, and commitment behind the hands, minds, and hearts that made it possible.

Before saying goodbye, though, we'd love to invite you to browse our candy portfolio and to please let your senses be filled with our colors, flavors, and daring creations; we're sure you won't regret it! 


Dive Into The Story Behind Colombina Candy Confectionery

Discover the captivating journey of Colombina Candy Confectionery, from its humble beginnings to global acclaim. Uncover the secrets behind their iconic sweets and the passion that fuels their innovative flavors. Join us on a mouthwatering adventure into the world of Colombina's candy craftsmanship.

The Sweet Blog