In the early 1950s, Bernat worked for an apple jam factory called "Granja Asturias". After he broached the idea of making lollipops, the investors left. Bernat took over the company in 1958 and renamed it Chupa Chups. He built the production machines and sold a striped bonbon on a wooden stick for one peseta each.
Bernat got the idea of a "bonbon with a stick" from a cursing mother as her child got sticky hands from melting sweets. Bernat felt that at that time, sweets were not designed with the main consumers — children — in mind. Shopkeepers were instructed to place the lollipops near the cash register within reach of children's hands, instead of the traditional placement behind the counter.
A giant Chupa Chups lollipop for sale
The Chupa Chups company was a success. Within five years Bernat's sweets were being sold at 300,000 outlets. When the candy was first created, the lolly sticks were made of wood but they switched to plastic sticks as a result of the Spanish wood shortage. After the end of the Francisco Francodictatorship (1939–1975), the self-funded private company went international. In the 1970s the colorful lollipops appeared in Southeast Asian nations, such as Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines and Malaysia, as well as Australia. In the 1980s it expanded to the European and North American markets, and in the 1990s to most Asian countries. In China they were manufactured by Tatagum in Panyu, near Guangzhou. As of 2003, 4 billion lollipops a year are sold to 150 countries. The company has 2000 employees, makes 90 percent of its sales abroad, and has a turnover of €500,000,000.
In 1991, Bernat passed formal control of "Chupa Chups" to his son Xavier. The Smint subsidiary brand/company was founded in 1994.