Formulations of Christmas Past, Present and Future

By David Calvert, December 2021.

As the festive period approaches, we thought it would be appropriate to look back at how formulations have influenced, or could influence, our Christmas times past present and future.

Figure 1

For many, celebrations include a little tipple and we are in that respect no different. To bring something special to my wife’s favourite tipple of gin and tonic last year, I bought her a small jar of “Blue Pearl Shimmer for Gin” (Figure 1) and thought I would reflect on the formulation design process for this.

So, if you were to apply iFormulate’s “Design for Formulation” approach to this product the customer promise would include phrases such as “shimmers when dispersed in gin”, “does not impact on taste of the drink” and “contains only food approved ingredients”.

Figure 2

The business brief and the technical brief would expand on the regulatory status and include cost targets as well as details on manufacturing process. This would subsequently lead to identifying critical quality attributes, critical material properties and critical process parameters. Incidentally, amongst the elements which should be defined are shelf life and absence of caking of the powder. I guess the manufacturers assumed their product would be used quickly, but as with many Christmas gifts, the Blue Pearl Shimmer made its way to the back of the cabinet and after one year some caking can be observed (Figure 2).

Moving on to Christmas present, perhaps we can only mention the hot topic of the day, and indeed the last 18 months, and reflect on the success of innovative formulation in playing a key role in delivering COVID vaccines into billions of arms. Formulation science and technology was used to stabilise the mRNA vaccines which are formulated in lipid nanoparticles – and we can only expect that this technology will be further developed and enhanced as the use of such vaccines to treat viral conditions is widened further.

Moving forward to Christmas future, it is time to get out our crystal ball. As with drink, food is an important part of the celebration for many and in particular I’m a big fan of the gravy formulation and I’m strongly of the opinion that family recipes for Yorkshire Pudding* (Figure 3) need to be maintained to prevent the move towards frozen Yorkshire Puddings. Perhaps a controversial wish may be to see 3-D printing develop so that we can personalise perhaps our sage and onion stuffing or even the Christmas puddings? Well, on reflection maybe we need to be careful what we wish for and that technology advances do not go too far and replace long-held traditions.

We wish all our clients and followers a very merry Christmas and let’s all hope for a better 2022. 


Figure 3

*For those unfamiliar with the finer points of British cuisine, Yorkshire Pudding isn’t actually a dessert, but a savoury accompaniment to a traditional Sunday roast dinner. See here for more detail on the formulation and key performance criteria for Yorkshire Pudding.

For those unfamiliar with the finer points of British geography, Yorkshire is a large English county and its inhabitants are famed for their generosity and modesty.