When you enter the passage right next to the Luhačovické Oplatky wafer shop in the Dr. Veselého street, you will be attracted by a sweet aroma of almonds, vanilla and strawberries, cocoa and chocolate. This is what the CLIP Spa Wafer Manufacture smells like.
I was lucky enough to have a chance to see the whole wafer manufacturing process from the very beginning up to the sweet ending, when the final product is being sold in a cardboard box at the counter. The energetic and ever-smiling Mrs. Matulová shows me around the convoluted labyrinth of the wafer manufacture. She explains to me the purpose of all these hot revolving pans, machines, bowls, colanders, and who knows what else.
Thin slices of dough are baked, then clipped and stowed into boxes. There is a machine which can tell, whether the dough is ripped off, and if so, it refuses to bake it.
With amazement, I’m staring at machines that precisely stack up high round wafers into piles. With even greater surprise I watch the hands of ladies who deftly exchange this freshly baked delicacy in a machine that spreads wafers with an even layer of chocolate cream. Everything works like clockwork.
The most favourite wafers are those with hazelnut filling. There is even a dedicated room for their production. The filling is baked into lily-white wafers and the smell in here is perhaps stronger than anywhere else. Hand-craft is omnipresent here. Each wafer must pass through the hands of a smiling lady, who clips the edges of wafers on a revolving machine to make them look smooth and neat.
High stacks of crunchy wafers blur into a column of colours. I just wonder what it would be like to bite into such a high mountain.
My grandpa once told me a story about how his mother sent him to a wafer factory to get wafer crumblings, but unfortunately, he couldn’t resist the vanilla and lemon delicacy and on his way home he eat it all. While I look around here, I think he was definitely not to blame.
All the wafers, that have undergone a process of baking, spreading, bonding, caking and clipping, then wait to be wrapped into cellophane. Only then they can be put into paper boxes. The speed, with which the packing machine swallows neat stacks of spa wafers, is incredible, as well as the swiftness of hand-made process of box labelling. No company has invented a device that could do it faster than the experienced hands of the local ladies.
Wafers wrapped in colourful boxes then travel to customers or are being sold directly at the counter upstairs. Up to ten thousand boxes of spa wafers and triangles roll out from the factory every day. The number might seem incredible, but it is necessary to consider that the wafers are distributed throughout the whole country – from Karlovy Vary to Luhačovice and also in Slovakia. The selection counts around fifty different flavours, but there are some new ones every year. And what the taste of this sweet most resembles? The taste of childhood, sunny holidays and sweet Sunday walks.
Also upstairs, the sales counter is busy. Especially when new guests arrive at the spa. Taster days when hundreds of hot waffles are being sold piece by piece must be pretty crazy. Finally, I’m getting one hazelnut wafer in my hand and biting into the fragrant splendour. Indeed, it was almost impossible to resist.