Theory into practice
Torahiko Hayashi, founder of Rheon Automatic Machinery Co., Utsunomiya, Japan, applied rheological science to processing equipment, enabling bakers to make affordable artisan products.
BakingBusiness.com, Feb. 1, 2013
by Staff

When the tsunami of modernization swept through post-WWII Japan, it often shoved aside traditional ways. Torahiko Hayashi, a young baker who also had trained as an engineer, became concerned about the growing scarcity of foods that once defined the country’s centuries-old culture. Chief among these was manjyu, a sweet confectionery-style dumpling stuffed with bean paste. It required considerable skill and long apprenticeship training to make by hand.

In 1961, Mr. Hayashi invented a mechanical method for encrusting one material around another, replacing six manual processes with one automatic step. The Cornucopia encrusting machine that he patented not only saved manjyu in Japan, but also enabled automated production of traditional handmade foods worldwide: arancini, coxinha, croquettes, kubba, moon cakes, pierogies, Scotch eggs, Chinese steamed buns and tamales, among others. This technology also ignited the US “cookie wars” of the mid-1980s when P&G adopted it to produce Duncan Hines soft-centered cookies, a breakthrough product.

Invention of encrusting technology led Mr. Hayashi to apply the principles of rheology — the science of the flow and deformation of matter — to other bakery processes, principally sheeting and lamination. From this work, beginning in the 1970s, emerged the multiple small-diameter stretching roller technique for reducing the depth of a laminated dough sheet without disturbing its layered structure.

Mr. Hayashi’s continuing exploration of rheology prompted his development of stress-free dough dividing, another technology new to the baking industry. It was featured making breads and pastries at the 1997 International Baking Industry Exposition. This method in particular allowed automation of artisan bread and roll products that had defeated earlier technologies. It, along with his encrusting and sheeting inventions, enabled large-scale production of artisan-quality products at reasonable prices to consumers.

Altogether, he received more than 100 patents covering inventions in dough processing.

Mr. Hayashi opened Japan’s Institute for Rheology in the 1950s to teach and promote his rheology-based methods. In 1963, he founded Rheon Automatic Machinery Co., Ltd., to manufacture bakery machinery based on his inventions. He took the company’s name from the word rheology.

The US baking industry got its first look at Mr. Hayashi’s inventions during Baking Expo 1977, the last one held at Atlantic City, NJ. A year and a half later, he established Orange Bakery at Irvine, CA, to serve as a pilot plant and demonstration bakery as well as to produce frozen puff pastry and croissants on a competitive basis for sale to in-store bakeries and foodservice operations. Orange Bakery opened a similar facility at Charlotte, NC, in 1988. Today, the bakery has three production locations, each demonstrating a different production method.

A member of the American Society of Baking since 1968, he presented a paper titled “Automated Puff Pastry Production” at the 1978 annual technical conference.

Although Mr. Hayashi has now retired from active participation in the Rheon business, he oversaw its expansion worldwide. From its home base north of Tokyo at Utsunomiya, Japan, the company established major offices at Düsseldorf and Ulm, Germany; Taipei, Taiwan; and Irvine, CA, Charlotte, NC, and Teterboro, NJ, in the US. Bakers and food processors in 112 countries now use the company’s equipment.