GAIN­ING SOME SWEET KNOWL­EDGE

CTC stu­dents learn how iconic candy Ring Pops are made at lo­cal fa­cil­ity.

The Citizens' Voice - - BUSINESS - BY JOSEPH KOHUT STAFF WRITER

SCRAN­TON — The smell hit Hunter Ri­iff as soon as he walked in the door.

Sugar.

A lot of it.

“Wow, that smells good,” the 18-yearold said.

Ri­iff, of Clarks Sum­mit, is a se­nior with the Ca­reer Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter of Lack­awanna County and one of about a dozen stu­dents who re­cently toured Topps’ Ring Pops plant in Scran­ton to get an in­side look at how the iconic candy is made.

Topps opened the doors to its Po­plar Street plant so stu­dents study­ing for a trade could look at the fac­tory floor of lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing and, hope­fully, con­vince a few to ap­ply for a job, plant man­ager Tom Sher­man­ski said.

Over the course of about an hour, Sher­man­ski ran through some specifics of how Ring Pops are made — from elec­tron­ics to the build­ing util­i­ties needed to main­tain low hu­mid­ity and keep the candy from get­ting too sticky.

“What you’re learn­ing in school, very real,” Sher­man­ski said. “And we’re us­ing it ev­ery day.”

Gears hummed and whirred. Au­to­mated ma­chines dipped plas­tic rings into molds of hot mix­tures of sugar that, when cooled, are pack­aged into plas­tic hun­dreds of times a minute. Crushed ex­cess candy, blue rasp­berry on Tues­day, dusted the floor like saw­dust in a lum­ber yard.

The tour was part of a slate of pro­grams the CTC em­ploys to lever­age the pres­ence of lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers to place their stu­dents in jobs, CTC Co­op­er­a­tive Ed­u­ca­tion Co­or­di­na­tor Matthew Zam­petti said.

For in­stance, CTC has a co­op­er­a­tive ed­u­ca­tion agree­ment with Car­di­nal LG, an Arch­bald sub­sidiary of a Min­nesotabased lam­i­nated glass pro­ducer, Car­di­nal Glass. The agree­ment al­lows some stu­dents to spend their af­ter­noons at the fa­cil­ity work­ing on the com­pany’s equip­ment with Car­di­nal’s main­te­nance team while draw­ing a pay­check.

Sher­man­ski said Topps is look­ing for full-time em­ploy­ees and would hire 18-year-old stu­dents as part­timers, if they ap­ply. Be­fore the stu­dents ar­rived, Sher­man­ski quipped that the tour would end with a job ap­pli­ca­tion.

“I hope the kids take away that there’s op­por­tu­nity out there,” Sher­man­ski said. “It’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand that you don’t need to leave (the area) to find a good job.”

Most of the stu­dents who toured had no idea that Ring Pops are only pro­duced in North­east Penn­syl­va­nia, even though they grew up with them. Ri­iff said he used to wear a dif­fer­ent fla­vor on each fin­ger as a child.

He got an­other op­por­tu­nity to do so. The tour ended with a bucket of Ring Pops.

JOSEPH KOHUT / STAFF PHOTO

Tom Sher­man­ski, plant man­ager of Topps’ Ring Pops plant in Scran­ton, takes Ca­reer Tech­nol­ogy Cen­ter of Lack­awanna County stu­dents on a tour Tues­day.

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