Rumor has it that Buffalo, NY-based SweetWorks, Inc. is the world’s largest gumball manufacturer.
Mariah Kerwin, SweetWorks’ brand manager, confirms that the rumor is indeed true, but qualifies that SweetWorks is the world’s largest “quality” gumball manufacturer and pumps out an enormous number of gumballs for its own Oak Leaf and Bubble King brands as well as other companies on contract.
Gumballs aren’t the only specialty at SweetWorks, though. SweetWorks began in 1956 as Niagara Chocolates. Niagara manufactured everyday and seasonal molded chocolate products and still does today under the SweetsWorks umbrella. In total, there are six major brands that fall under this golf-sized umbrella, including Niagara Chocolate, Oak Leaf, Sixlets, Bubble King, Ovation, and Florida Tropic. A seventh brand, Radz, is also about to take cover (more on Radz below).
Over the last 10 years, SweetWorks has been growing at a brisk pace. The company’s nostalgic Sixlets—a brand purchased from The Hershey Company in 2003—started out as a penny candy, but has become a “must-have” item on candy buffets now that the tiny candy-coated chocolate balls are available in a rainbow of single colors and pearlized finishes. Sixlets are consistently a top seller at Candy.com.
More growth is on the way, too. At next week’s Sweets & Snacks EXPO, SweetWorks will be launching two new product lines and a new flavor in its Ovation truffle sticks line. All three product lines have distinctly different target markets:
Kid-friendly: SweetWorks’ new Radz line of 250+ collectible toy dispensers come in a variety of everyday and seasonal characters. Each Radz figure has interchangeable parts and dispenses colorful candy from its tongue, hence the tagline, “Fun For Your Tongue.™” Additionally, Radz has a social media component and Web-based interactivity for kids at RadzWorld.com (think Webkinz meets Candy Land). If you are attending the 2011 Sweets & Snacks EXPO, head to SweetWorks booth #1709 and get a Radz password to demo the product online. The first series of Radz to appear in the marketplace will be a limited edition Christmas Reindeer and Polar Bear. Both toy and candy are blister-packed to create a 3.04-ounce set.
Party-friendly: For party planners, SweetWorks’ new “Celebration” line is designed to make candy buffets, themed events, party favors, and cookie/cupcake/cake decorating pretty darn simple … and color-coordinated. “Celebration” includes 8-ounce retail-ready bags of gumballs, 14-ounce retail-ready bags of Sixlets, and 4.5-ounce jars of Sixlets and Pearls—all in bright, shiny single colors. A few shakes of a jar would make an ice cream cone even better.
Gift-friendly: SweetWorks’ line of high-end Ovation truffle sticks in Mint, Irish Cream, and Orange flavors, is getting a caffeinated sibling, Cappuccino. The dark chocolate Ovation Cappuccino sticks are all-natural and made with real coffee beans. Packaging for all Ovation products is beautiful, but not over-the-top frilly, so you will score points with both male and female foodie friends if you gift them. Each 4.4-ounce box of Cappuccino Ovation includes 40 sticks.
Next week, Tues., May 24 – Thurs., May 26, is the 2011 Sweets & Snacks EXPO in Chicago! It’s America’s largest candy show, and Candy.com will be blogging and Twittering about new candies, trends, candy business news, and anything else worth sharing—live from the candy carpet all three days. Tune in!