mystery_flavorSpangler Candy, the maker of Dum Dum lollipops, produces 10 million candies per day. The company keeps 16 flavors in the market at any given time, and each production line runs multiple flavors. Switching the production line from, say, Watermelon to Root Beer, means stopping the line, washing the machines, cleaning the hoses, and then running a small batch of the new flavor to prime the line for the next flavor. That's expensive.

I don't know if Spangler has any sort of lean program, and I don't know whether or not they've reduced changeover time as much as possible. But I do know that they've found a way to turn a mechanical necessity into an asset.

Enter the Mystery Flavor.

Beginning in 2001, the Spangler Company decided to just skip the cleaning. According to Mental Floss, “the Mystery Flavor pop is a mixture of two flavors that come together when the end of one batch of candy meets the beginning of the next batch. [. . .] The candy lines keep running continuously, and the Mystery Flavor pops are a surprise treat every time.”

Okay, this may not be the pinnacle of lean -- figuring out a way to eliminate the machine cleaning might be more of a lean ideal -- but in the meantime, the company has found a way to turn manufacturing limitations into value for customers.