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Steph's Sunday Shift: Me and the Chocolate Factory

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Steph McGovern Steph McGovern | 16:12 UK time, Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Each week on 5 live's On The Money, Declan Curry sends me to do a Sunday shift in a business that doesn't follow a typical 9-5. This week I spent the day learning how to make KitKats at the Nestle factory in York.

Feeling like one of the golden ticket winners from 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' I turned up to the Nestle factory with child-like excitement about what I'd find inside. Not least because I was greeted at the door by Willy Wonka. And, no, before you ask, he isn't there everyday. This Sunday was a special occasion; it's Kit Kat's 75th birthday so the Nestle bosses decided to open the doors to the public for the first time in over 10 years and get a bloke to dress up as Mr Wonka.

Steph with Willy Wonker

The plant has various production lines each concentrating on different type of chocolate bar. Today I was working on the two finger Kit Kat. And just like most production lines in the UK now, it is mainly machine based. There were a dozen or so hairnet adorned workers dotted around the machinery, but not many. As I wandered round chatting to them it was soon clear that they worked on the same line each shift and are quite protective about that. The two finger team is not the same as the four finger team and let's not even mention the Milky Bar kids!

According to Mintel 90% of us regularly eat chocolate. But it's not just us Brits wolfing it down, the emerging economies are helping to boost sales for our chocolate factories too. Here in York, Kit Kat production is at full capacity with the machines working 24/7 to meet that demand. Over 5.7 million Kit Kats are flying out of the door everyday, and are eaten in over 50 countries. This growing demand inevitably means that prices are going up. Nestle, Cadbury and Thorntons have all announced that most of our chocolate favourites will be going up a few pence because the price of cocoa has soared. But this is unlikely to stop us buying it. It's an affordable treat that we just can't give up, with Mintel predicting that UK sales will grow by £4.1billion by 2015.

But it's true what they say - if you end up working with it you'll barely be able to eat, smell or look at chocolate in the same way again. And for the 737 workers in the factory making some of the nation's favourite confectionery, the hours are long and the job can inevitably feel quite monotonous. Despite this the banter and enthusiasm amongst the team here was magic. The shift manager, Steve, who I spent the afternoon with could easily be a stand-up comic on the side. Jonny Vegas or Peter Kay I suggested -- apparently he gets that reference all the time. Here's a little flavour of my time with him:

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Do you have suggestions for other Sunday shifts? If so, please leave a comment below.

On The Money goes out between 8 - 9pm on Sunday nights on 5 live.

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