Archive for the ‘Astro Pops’ Category

Sweets and Snacks Expo

 

Ready, set, go!

It’s off to opening day of the National Confectioners Association‘s annual Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago. This 3-day sugarlicious industry event is candy heaven. Rows and rows of candy manufacturers display their latest confections to hungry retail buyers from all over the world.

We’ve already got a “hot list” of new products we know we want to to see (and sample!) top o’ the morning, including …

Baby Blue and Pink Gummy Bears
Not sure what’s cooler. The colors or the flavors of these gummy bears. Albanese Confectionery Company‘s translucent Baby Blue Blueberry and Baby Pink Grapefruit Gummy Bears have huge potential for baby showers and weddings. I’m quite sure they’ll live up to expectations.

Sweethearts Marshmallows
Heart-shaped Marshmallow Sweethearts® are headed to love birds everywhere this Valentine’s Day. Just like classic Sweethearts® (Sweethearts is a registered trademark of New England Confectionery Company), the new fluffy, puffy marshmallow hearts will feature sweet nothings like “Hug me,” “Smile,” and “Be Mine.” Manufactured by the Spangler Candy Company, the hearts will come in sweet little 1.6-ounce pink boxes and an assortment of flavors (Strawberry, Grape, Green Apple, and Blue Raspberry). Think of the possibilities for dressing up cupcakes, cookies, cake pops, Rice Krispie Treats, S’mores, ice cream, hot cocoa … oh my!

Astro Pops
Two years after acquiring the retired Astro Pop brand from the Spangler Candy Company, Leaf Brands, LLC is bringing the classic Cherry, Passion Fruit, and Pineapple-flavored rocket pops back to life in two sizes: original 1 oz. for mass merchants, and 1.5 oz. for smaller retailers. To ensure that the 2012 Astro Pop was made exactly the way everyone remembered it—down to the wax and clear wrapper—Leaf Brands enlisted the help of its Facebook friends. Based on product photos, it looks spot on.

In other Leaf Brands news, the company now owns the rights to Bonkers and Wacky Wafers, so be on the lookout for those two classic comebacks in 2013.

 

Justin’s All-Natural Candy Bars
According to Justin’s press info, the company’s new All-natural Candy Bar line (including Milk Chocolate Peanut, Dark Chocolate Peanut, and Milk Chocolate Almond) contains “25% less sugar, 50% more protein, and 100% more fiber than the leading conventional candy bar, Snickers®.” Beyond that, Justin’s “uses only all-natural and organic ingredients, has no hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives or trans fats, and is also gluten free.”

Um, that’s a mouthful. How can you not be curious enough to give these a road test?

 

DOVE Cookies and Crème Bars and Promises
Coming September 2012: DOVE® Silky Smooth Cookies & Crème Bars and Promises from Mars Chocolate North America. It’s sweet and creamy white chocolate and crunch chocolate cookie bits under the DOVE umbrella. Enough said.

 

Wild Ophelia Candy Bars
Katrina Markoff, the brainchild behind Vosges Haut-Chocolat, has a new venture, Wild Ophelia: Taking an American Road Trip Through Chocolate. Her latest line of exotic dark and milk chocolate bars are smaller than traditional Vosges bars (2 oz. vs. 3 oz.), and less expensive ($4.50-ish vs. $7.50-ish).

Wild Ophelia exhibited at last year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo, but with only five bars. This year, the brand has blossomed into nine bars, including Peanut Butter & Banana, Salted Chowchilla Almond, Smokehouse BBQ Potato Chips, Sweet & Crispy Caramel Corn, Beef Jerky, Southern Hibiscus Peach, New Orleans Chili, Mount Sequoia Granola, and  Sweet Cherry Pecan. BBQ potato chips blended with dark chocolate sounds both disgusting and inviting. Must try!

 

Blue Raspberry and Wild Cherry Bonomo Turkish Taffy
The Warrell Corporation brought Bonomo Turkish Taffy out of retirement two years ago. This year, Warrell is expanding its nostalgic and incredibly chewy (the last time I sampled Bonomo Turkish Taffy, I lost a filling) taffy line with two new flavors: Blue Raspberry and Wild Cherry. Given the popularity of Cherry and Blue Raspberry Airheads, these flavors are a pretty safe bet.

 

Tic Tac Cinnamon Spice
Because I am one of the few humans on the planet who likes “Close-Up Cinnamon Red Gel Toothpaste,” I have a hunch, I’ll like Ferrero U.S.A.‘s new Cinnamon Spice Tic Tacs with “sweet, warm flavor.” They’ve got great color for the holidays and each tiny piece is less than 2 calories. Hello stocking stuffer.

If you’re on the Sweets & Snacks show floor today, let us know. We’d love to meet you!

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In two short weeks, America’s largest candy show will be in full swing. The National Confectioners Association’s Sweets & Snacks EXPO, running May 24-26 in Chicago, is a lot like a candy store, but on steroids.

The show always draws impressive media attention around new candies about to hit store shelves and the Web. Typically, it’s the grossest candies that get the most coverage, like scorpion-infused lollipops or barf-flavored jelly beans; or new product launches from mega brands like Hershey, Nestlé and Mars; or trending flavors like bacon or pomegranate; or novelty items like  plastic grizzly bears and sheep that poop candy.

This year, journalists won’t be disappointed. All of those headline-worthy categories are covered. (Take a look at the list of candies that will be included in this year’s new product showcase at the Sweets & Snacks EXPO.)

Here are five new products I don’t want to miss on May 24.

Farts Candies from Leaf Brands, LLC. (Booth 2102)
I called Ellia Kassoff, the CEO of Leaf Brands, LLC, yesterday, to find out what he was thinking with the launch of a confectionery product called “Farts.”

Turns out these little buggers are not brown or smelly, but “a better version of Nerds,” says Ellia. Like Nerds, Farts candies are tiny, fruit-flavored nuggets or “poofs,” as Ellia affectionately calls them. Unlike Nerds, Farts Candies don’t have a crunchy shell. Instead it’s a chewier candy shell, and I’ll stop there before things get weird.

Ellia says the name “Farts” was picked because, “you can’t help but giggle and smile when you hear it.”  He’s also quick to point out that this product is not being positioned as a short-lived gross novelty item. He says he’s going for mainstream by keeping things “cute” and out of the toilet.

I know my kids—and husband—lose their minds when they say or hear the word “fart” (my son got a whoopee cushion over the weekend and can’t contain his laughter when it sounds off), so I have to admit that Leaf Brands may be on to something big.

Farts candy is available in 126+ flavors, but Leaf Brands isn’t planning on launching all of them, at least not right away. Ellia says he’s going to let the public vote via social media.

The final flavors will be packaged in 2.17-ounce packs and in four different varieties: Fruiti, Sour, Single Flavors, and Small Farts. “Small Farts” are itty-bitty candy pieces that look like sprinkles for topping cakes, cupcakes, and ice cream. I see a co-brand with Dairy Queen coming on.

Astro Pop Asteroids from Leaf Brands, LLC (Booth 2102)

The folks at Leaf Brands have been busy tinkering in the test kitchen. Back in December, the company brought Astro Pops back to life in the form of a jumbo 2-pound version. Fast forward five months, and Leaf Brands is now introducing Astro Pop Asteroids with the tagline, “The classic rocket pop blasted into bite-sized candy pieces.”

Each individually wrapped Astro Pop hard candy piece features the same flavors as the original pop: pineapple (yellow), cherry (red), and passion fruit (green).

Leaf’s Ellia Kassoff says original-size Astro Pops are also in the works, but a release date has yet to be set.

Hershey’s Air Delight Kisses and Air Delight Milk Chocolate Bars (Booth 845)

When chocolate bars enter into the brand-extension zone, they typically get a hit of fruit, nuts, cookies, caramel, or some other standard add-on.

The Hershey Company is going a completely different route by adding air bubbles to its classic Kisses and Milk Chocolate bars.

Aerated chocolate isn’t anything new, but it’s never really taken off in the United States. In Canada and Europe, I’ve been told it’s a staple item.

Back in September 2009, all-natural Bubble Chocolate bars launched in the United States and now have distribution in a range of retail channels, including Whole Foods, Duane Reade, meijer, Roundy’s Supermarkets, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and Home Goods. Both bars should be at the show, so it could be the perfect opportunity for a throw down.

Hershey’s 1.44-ounce Air Delight Milk Chocolate Bar and 9.4-ounce Air Delight Kisses are officially due out in June.

Air Heads 2-IN-1 Big Bar from Perfetti Van Melle USA Inc. (Booth 2145)
Good news for Air Heads fans (I am one of them). Perfetti Van Melle USA, Inc. has super-sized its standard 0.55-ounce Air Heads taffy to a 1.5-ounce bar and is combining two flavors in each bar.

Big Bar flavor combinations include Blue Raspberry/Cherry, Strawberry/Watermelon and Pink Lemonade/Orange. My money’s on Blue Raspberry/Cherry for best of the bunch.

Sour Lovers from Gimbal’s Fine Candies (Booth 1001)
New heart-shaped Sour Lovers chews from Gimbal’s are made with real fruit juice, gluten-free, kosher certified, and deliver a 25% daily Vitamin C dose per serving.

That’s all good stuff, but I think the most interesting thing about these sours are the grown-up, pucker-up flavors: Pomegranate, Strawberry Daiquiri, Sour Blueberry, Mango, Georgia Peach, Fuji Apple, Bing Cherry, Meyer Lemon, Watermelon, Grapefruit, Tangerine, and Baja Margarita.

“There is nothing like Sour Lovers in the market today,” says Karin Vollrath, sales and marketing director for Gimbal’s Fine Candies. “Existing sour candies out there are primarily of low quality, delivering a brief sour taste with limited flavor assortments that consumers consider unimaginative or artificial. Many adults grew up loving sour and still crave that taste, but now their palates have evolved.”

I like the fact that Sour Lovers doesn’t pack the sort of punch that makes you wince. For hardcore sour lovers, that may be a disappointment, but for sour fringe friends like myself, it’s a welcome relief.

Sour Lovers are available in 11-ounce laydown bags, 3- and 6-ounce peg bags, and 32-ounce jars.

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Candy products come and go. Some you don’t miss, others you miss terribly.

I miss the braided caramel and chocolate Marathon bars and Bub’s Daddy Bubble Gum (especially the apple flavor).

I don’t miss the Peter Paul Caravelle bar.

I wish Tootsie Roll Industries would offer a box of just red Dots. I also wish a manufacturer would come out with a really good drug store version of an English toffee bar with a thick layer of milk chocolate. Heath doesn’t do it for me. (My kids wish for edible Japanese erasers, but I have a feeling those are already invented.)

Looking back on 2010, several brands/line extensions were “invented,” including Jelly Belly Honey Beans, M&M’s Pretzel, American Licorice Co.’s Natural Vines, and Gimbal’s Honey Lovers.

Also in 2010, a handful of vintage brands made surprise comebacks like Bonomo Turkish Taffy, McCraw’s Flat Taffy, and Astro Pops.

Heading into 2011, are there any candies you’d like to see invented, reformulated (e.g., I wish Nestle Crunch Bars could be made with quality chocolate), or coaxed out of retirement?

Anything’s possible, so post your ideas below or on Facebook. You never know who’s reading.

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If you were saddened to see Astro Pops disappear from the planet in 2004, guess what? They’re back at Candy.com. And the new rockets are WAY bigger than the originals. The modern-day Astro Pop is 2 pounds, the original was 1 ounce.

“It’s got the wow factor, but people can still eat it, not just look at it,” says Ellia Kassoff, CEO of Astro Pops, LLC., the company that acquired the Astro Pop brand from Spangler Candy this past May.

When I talked with Ellia this past Friday, he said he was hugely disappointed when Astro Pops fell off radar in 2004 and decided to bring the rocket-shaped lollipops back to Mother Earth.

Ellia doesn’t have a candy background, so to revive the brand, he’s relying on his passion for the product, his marketing background, and his family tie to the Leaf Confectionery Company. (Leaf introduced Rainblo gum balls and reintroduced malted milk balls under the name Whoppers, among other things.)

“The whole Leaf family is excited to see candy back in the family,” says Ellia.

Back when Spangler owned the Astro Pop brand, it was touted as the “longest lasting lollipop on earth.” To bring the tagline up to today’s standards, Ellia has plans to roll out different sizes of Astro Pops based on how much time you’ve got. (Note to Ellia: I do hope you’ve carved out a good bit of time to figure out how many licks it takes to finish off a range of Astro Pop sizes.)

Ellia says the biggest size will probably be a 5-pound showpiece, which is based on the number of calls he’s getting from people interested in giant Astro Pops for wedding centerpieces. (I would think birthdays, graduations, and bar/bat mitzvahs might be a better fit for a rocket theme, but I certainly have been to my fair share of outer space weddings.)

The 2-pound Astro Pop, which is now available at Candy.com, has the same flavors as the original pop: pineapple (yellow), cherry (red), and passion fruit (green). It is pretty remarkable that passion fruit and pineapple were flavors used back in the M*A*S*H era.


If you’re one of the first 500 customers to buy an Astro Pop on Candy.com, you’ll receive a limited-edition version that’s numbered. And, if you place your order by Thurs., Dec. 17, you’ll have your rocket by Christmas.

Historical Note: In case you’re curious why Astro Pops fell off the planet for a while, here’s the story: This past May at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, Astro Pop, LLC announced its acquisition of worldwide rights for Astro Pops from the Spangler Candy. (Spangler Candy is the company behind Dum Dum Pops, Candy Canes, Circus Peanuts, and Saf-T-Pops.) Spangler bought the brand from Los Angeles-based Nellson Candy Company (the original inventor of the Astro Pop) in 1987, but ended up discontinuing the line in 2004. Many cried. One guy did something about it.

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