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David Rodriguez on Flavor R&D: Employee Spotlight

Have you ever wondered who comes up with the exotic, seasonal, and surprising flavors that you see in the chocolate aisle? That’s the R&D department. 

We spoke with David Rodriguez, the manager of the Research & Development team at Marich, who is in charge of paving the way to create fresh and up-and-coming flavors for retail and private label customers. 

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What goes into the flavor development & the new product process for Marich Chocolates?

Well this is kinda one of those…a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a whole lot of love, finger crossing, trade insight, and working with our great Marich team members to pull it all together. 

Some flavors that have recently come out of the R&D process, and are available at market under the Marich brand, are our Lemon Shortbread, Maple Bourbon Pecans, Peanut Butter Pretzels, and Barrel Aged Bourbon Caramels

What happens after R&D perfects a new flavor?

In the R&D lab we work in micro-sized versions of the equipment that produces the Marich Chocolate flavors you know and love. Once a formula has been perfected we then have to create a recipe that our operations team can utilize to produce a full commercial size batch.

Most would believe this would be a straightforward mathematical conversion, but there is a real art in a first-time scale-up.  Think of making a jumbo cookie vs a small cookie at home….a jumbo cookie center will take longer to cook and the outside could potentially get hard vs a smaller scale cookie that will cook evenly due to the smaller size. A similar concept applies to our scaling process. 

What do you love about working in your industry?

In our industry, and specifically the Research and Development environment, it’s ever-changing and everyday is a new creative opportunity.  

If you look at the evolution of food as a whole, the landscape has changed immensely over the past decade. I appreciate that I will always have something fun and interesting to work on, from new flavor profiles and textures to better-for-you attributes.  

To have the opportunity to work with so many talented and inspiring individuals, and have a hand in the evolution of the food environment/landscape itself is pretty rewarding.

You’ve Been with Marich for 17 Years! What’s keeping you around?

I started working with Marich in 2003. What drew me here was the family aspect., the ability to work side by side with the owners, Brad & Troy, and to start developing Toffee formulas and processes.

I have always, from day one, appreciated and respected Brad & Troy for the roles they hold,  all they do, and represent within the company.  As the years go on, my appreciation continues to grow daily, as well as a great appreciation for the entire Marich team. This amazing company is my extended family.

What’s your favorite Marich flavor?

Coconut Curry Cashews: Roasted cashews in an exotic blend of velvety white chocolate, mild curry, and coconut.

What’s a fun fact your employees might not know about you?

Since Marich is a strong family culture company we are all pretty close so this is actually a challenging one to answer…

I have only been out of my home state for the first time within the past 5 years, and have now been to Las Vegas, Chicago, and Reno.