Episode 92 – Gummy Central: Formulating Award-Winning Gummies



Joe: On this episode of the "CPG & CBD University Podcast," award-winning gummies. Two years in a row, leading industry publications have voted our gummies the best new product. What goes into formulating award-winning, great tasting gummies? It's our latest Gummy Central® episode. This is the "CPG & CBD University Podcast," and it starts right now.

I'm Joe Agostinelli, host of the "CPG & CBD University Podcast." If you're a returning listener, welcome back to our podcast. If you are a new listener, we are glad you found us on your podcast platform of choice. Hit that Subscribe button, and you'll get notifications of new episodes each week. Full video episodes on the Global Widget and Hemp Bombs YouTube channels.

It's the latest in our Gummy Central series. What does it take to formulate award-winning gummies, the research and development to the cooking process, the manufacturing process? Two years in a row our gummies have been chosen in multiple award programs, all of which factor in taste as the most important judging criteria. Joining me on this episode is our quality control manager, Nelson Rodriguez, and one of our formulators, Sara Brown. Welcome back both of you to our podcast.

Sara: Always a pleasure.

Nelson: Hi.

Joe: Sara, you first. Our newest award is the Convenience Store News 2021 Best New Product in the CBD Gummies Category for our Hemp Bombs Botanical Blend CBD Gummies. Remind our listeners what's in these gummies and the flavor.

Sara: So, we have three flavors of gummies. We got blue raspberry, strawberry, and mixed berry. And the things that make them special is they have an extra boost of some passionflower, Scutellaria, and L-theanine, which are all things that are there to help promote a feeling of calmness. The flavors are awesome. They taste great. Yeah, and they're award-winning.

Joe: Perfect. They are award-winning. In case, if you wanted to know, we have props. And this is where you tune in to the YouTube channel for some video extras. But we do have the Botanical Blends. This is the 100...I should be able to tell by the weight. This is the 100-count bottle. They come in 50 and 100-count bottles, the Botanical Blend. And you can see all the information of exactly what we just mentioned on the ingredients on the back panel. And as I mentioned, these are the latest of the award-winning gummies.

And a year ago, during our year of more...our new Hemp Bombs original high potency and sleep gummies were voted a 2020 CSP Retailer of Choice Best New Product. That's a vote of more than 1,000 retailers nationwide. How hard is it to get that perfect taste from the very beginning of formulating gummies?

Nelson: I mean you could get lucky and get, like, a really good flavor from the get go if you're used to formulating gummies, which we are. But it is very rare that the first formula that you made is going to be, like, the formula. Right? We go through a process that everybody in the lab has different opinion on flavor, even in-house where we get...like, our people here go, "Hey. You try this. Do you think it tastes correctly or not?" So, I'll say that it depends on the gummy that you're formulating and what kind of actives are in there. Right? So, you cannot say, "Hey, I'm just going to put this mixed berry flavor in there," and expect it to taste like mixed berry because you don't know how the actives are going to affect that flavor.

Joe: In regards to the Hemp Bombs gummies, you were here. Nelson wasn't here yet last year when we came out with the new gummies. You were here, obviously, when we came out with the new gummies. What's that?

Sara: Those are my gummies.

Nelson: Those are her babies.

Sara: Yeah.

Joe: Those are your gummies.

Sara: Very first gummies.

Joe: Yeah. So, when we talk about getting that taste from the very beginning, how hard was it with the new line of gummies when they came out?

Sara: We went through several rounds of taste testing internally where we had multiple panels of people doing organoleptic evaluations of every iteration of these gummies. I think we originally started with nine flavors and had to, like, whittle it down to the five that we ended up with. But it was...

Joe: I remember that.

Sara: Yeah. It was a process.

Nelson: I can imagine. Like, nine...

Joe: It's a fun process.

Sara: It was.

Nelson: Imagine nine flavors. I'm pretty sure the nine...because you got nine formulas. And then you tweak those nine formulas. I cannot imagine how many...

Sara: Oh my God. I made so many gummies.

Nelson: Yeah. I can't imagine how many gummies you made.

Sara: So many.

Joe: Yeah.

Nelson: If you look at from, like, a DOE, like a design of experiment standpoint, it's a lot of work. I really can't imagine how many formulas you made. So, that's impressive.

Joe: And, obviously, as most of our Hemp Bombs followers know, these are our regular original CBD gummies. This is the 20-count package that have 15 milligrams of CBD per gummy, 300 milligrams per bag. And those come in five flavors.

Sara: Yes.

Joe: Correct? The originals are sleep and the high potency.

Sara: Yeah, they all come in green apple, strawberry, blue raspberry, lime, and mixed berry.

Nelson: Delicious.

Joe: No hesitation bear. Yeah. And as I mentioned, they were voted an award winner last year. When there's a request for a flavor that we may not already have in our product line, how do we work with whether it's an in-house brand or private label partner to perfect that flavor?

Nelson: We try flavors. So, for example, we could have... I don't even know how many flavor houses right now we're using.

Sara: At least five.

Nelson: For example, when you contact these flavor houses and you say, "Hey. I want," I don't know, let's say, "Chocolate flavor," whatever. Right? They have, like, how many chocolate flavors? They have, like, 10, 15 different chocolate flavors. So, we start from there, I guess, and then we tweak it until we get the correct flavor that we want or we say, "Hey. This flavor is not going to work with this kind of formulation. I think it's better if we go with this flavor." At least that's the way it goes.

Sara: Yeah. And working with the flavor houses is really nice sometimes, too, because sometimes a customer can come to us saying, "I need this to taste like this exact thing," as an example. And we can go to those flavor houses and say, "Okay, guys. I need you to make me this flavor exactly." And they can recreate it almost exactly. It's really good.

Joe: How hard is it when we already have a line to add new flavors? I mean, obviously, we've done it twice this year with Botanical Blends and the elderberry extract ones.

Sara: I mean it's pretty easy to add new flavors of things especially if you already have, like, a base formula down. Like, I could add a new regular CBD gummy flavor to our line, no problem. We just have to go through the evaluation of, you know, "Do we like this flavor the best? Which ones do we want to go with?" and all that down the line again. But it's relatively easy once you have the formula down to just put in a new flavor.

Joe: And with manufacturing millions of gummies every day, are there certain types of flavors that work better with our current manufacturing process, or is no flavor off-limit?

Sara: It's not a manufacturing process thing, necessarily. It's more of, like, do those ingredients allow that flavor to work well? Right? So, like, if you use an apple cider vinegar gummy, what's really good with that? An apple flavor. You don't really want...you know, like, you put a different flavor with it, it can kind of be a little bit weird. So, you want to lean into the apple. We have another ingredient we use called bromelain which is, like, actually derived from pineapples. So, we put pineapple flavor with bromelain. They kind of, like, you know, are synergistic and they work together, and makes a better tasting gummy than if you tried to force something strange upon that particular ingredient. You know, you might come up with something a little bit weird tasting.

Joe: I haven't tasted any pineapple. It'd be like a piña colada.

Sara: Yeah, a little bit tropical-tasting. Yup.

Joe: Yeah.

Nelson: Refreshing.

Sara: Yes.

Joe: Exactly. What better on a Florida afternoon?

Nelson: Oh, yes.

Joe: Piña colada tasting gummies.

Nelson: And manufacturing process. I think, like, from a manufacturing standpoint where we're scaling up, the more troublesome stuff is the color, not the flavor.

Sara: Yes.

Nelson: I mean, yes, we can tweak the flavor a little bit. But color? Color is hard. Very hard.

Joe: And do you try and match the colors with the flavor of the gummy bears?

Nelson: Always. Yes. But what I'm trying to say is, like, when we do that, and let's say you want a specific color and you need a specific flavor for it, so, the specific color is very hard to keep that color when you go from lab batch to basically manufacturing.

Sara: Yeah. We have some...

Nelson: It doesn't behave the same way. So, it's very difficult.

Sara: We have some purples that like to turn red on an upscale and things like that. And then when the color looks off, it doesn't match, necessarily. So, that's a little bit of a struggle we come into sometimes.

Nelson: Yes. Color is very hard.

Joe: So, before we wrap up, what does it mean to you and the formulation team to see gummies that you're crafting...and it may not even necessarily be our own brands. I mean, let's be honest, some of the private label brands out there that we work with, where their products win awards, we've actually made them. So, what does it mean to you guys as formulators that products you're creating are winning industry awards?

Sara: Huge sense of pride. It's a really great feeling to know that this stuff that we're making is liked by anybody, by other people. To be liked enough, to be voted, to win something is just an amazing feeling. It's great. Yeah.

Nelson: I agree. Like, yeah. I mean it's a team effort. Right?

Sara: Right.

Nelson: So, the whole team is always like, "Oh, we won this award." We're super stoked. It keeps morale very high to know that we work in such a fun environment plus we're getting awards. It's just amazing. I love it.

Sara: And down the right track.

Nelson: Oh, yeah.

Joe: Well, so far, we've had our originals, sleep, high potency, Botanical Blend gummies, all won an award. Maybe the elderberry extract gummies will join and maybe another gummy will join very soon. A little teaser there. We'll have that on a coming up episode. But anyways, Nelson, Sara, I pointed the wrong way, but you know. Nelson, Sara, thank you both for coming back on the podcast. Always great to talk gummies and what goes into the manufacturing and development process, and what makes the gummies taste so great.

Sara: Thanks, Joe.

Nelson: Pleasure.

Joe: Nelson Rodriguez, Sara Brown, my guests on this episode of the "CPG & CBD University Podcast." And thank you for tuning into this episode. Reminder to hit that Subscribe button wherever you get your podcast. You'll get notifications when new episodes are published each week. And for more on our award-winning gummies, you can visit our website at www.hempbombs.com. You can also read the full press release at www.globalwidget.com. And you can purchase some of the gummies and to try yourself our award-winning gummies. Quality control manager Nelson Rodriguez, formulator Sara Brown, my guests on this episode. And thank you for listening to this episode of the "CPG & CBD University Podcast." I'm Joe Agostinelli. Thanks for tuning in.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. CBD products are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Always consult with your personal physician about CBD and using CBD products. CBD should never be used by anyone under the age of 18. This podcast is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the legal status of CBD and CBD products.