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Have you ever known someone for a while, and later discovered one of their secret talents? Like, learning that a coworker sews amazing mens’ suits at night, or finding out that your retired neighbor happens to be a pool shark and travels to Vegas to compete. I love when this kind of stuff unfolds.
Last week at the Sweets & Snacks EXPO in Chicago, I came across a “Candy Never Goes Out of Style” exhibit. It was a display of couture dresses, jewelry, high-heeled pumps, and a Louis XVI chair all made out of candy wrappers and individual pieces of candy.
Turns out the dresses and accessories were created by Terese McDonald, owner of Candyality candy shops in Chicago, along with several of her staff members, siblings, and sister-in-law. The Louis XVI “sweet seat” was made by Beth Kimmerle, candy historian and author. Both Terese and Beth are friends of Candy.com, and neither came clean with their hidden talents until last week.
Terese says the “Skittles Riddles” dress (above) took her employee, Ashley Reinsmith, about 15 hours to make. (Skittles Riddles got lots of buzz at the Sweets & Snacks EXPO, winning the NCA’s Most Innovative New Product Award in the non-chocolate category.)
The matching Skittles Riddles high heels scream “Katy Perry!” …
According to Terese, the Jelly Belly Wedding Dress took the most amount of time to design and bring to life … about 50 hours. (That may have topped the time it took Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen to create Kate Middleton’s wedding dress!) The bodice and boning accents were made with Vanilla Jelly Belly jelly beans.
Terese says two of her team members worked diligently on the Jelly Belly dress in the middle of her new Water Tower Chicago store location, while customers watched the progress.
The vibrant Wm. Wrigley Jr. 5 Gum Dress was made by Terese’s sister-in-law. Terese comes from a family of seven children and says all of her siblings and her sister-in-law have creative and artistic backgrounds. The talent pool runs deep! Terese says she and two of her sisters caught the fashion design bug two years ago when they collaborated on their first candy wrapper dress.
“We constantly study all of the current fashion trends and fashionable people, and make an inspiration board to get us going. Each dress is different as it expresses the vision of the artist,” says Terese.
Inspiration by J.Lo? This M&M’s Dress features a boho chic hat and rows and rows of wrappers cut like petals.
When asked about what happens with all the candy that gets unwrapped, Terese says, “Most companies donate the wrappers for our dresses, but from time to time, we do end up with vats of unwrapped candy. We recycle that candy because we do so many art projects in our stores. We don’t like to throw anything away.”
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.
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!
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!
Kristen Cumings, the artist behind some of the Jelly Belly Candy Company’s famous jelly bean art, knows her beans. In 2010, Kristen was commissioned by Jelly Belly to produce eight pieces of jelly bean art for a collection titled “Masterpieces of Jelly Belly Art.” This collection includes eight recreations of the world’s most most recognized works of art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.” The Masterpieces collection is now on display through June at the Children’s Museum of the Upstate in Greenville, S.C.
My kids tell everybody that we meet that I’m a jelly bean artist. I’ve always been into art. My first jelly bean portrait was of Herman Rowland [chairman of the board, Jelly Belly]. It took me about three months to complete.
A typical commissioned piece for me is 4 feet wide by 5 feet tall and includes between 12,000 and 15,000 jelly beans. I now can finish a piece in about three weeks, which is roughly 100 hours.
I sort my beans by color in compartmentalized bead boxes. I’ve dropped one of those boxes on more than one occasion and have actually paid my kids to re-sort them for me.
For pieces that Jelly Belly commissions, the company orders a 10-pound box of each color. I use about 25 to 35 colors per piece, so we have a lot of leftovers in my house. My favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean color to work with is Island Punch. I dyed my hair the same color last year. My hair is now mostly red, but two parts are purple and pink striped. The purple stripes look like Island Punch. The pink stripes are more Strawberry Daiquiri.
I work in the evenings after my regular job. I am a special education classroom assistant and I do a lot of art with the kids. They love the jelly bean projects!
My favorite jelly bean portrait so far was the one I just finished. It’s of my son. My reference image was from when he was 7 years old.
I was bummed when Jelly Belly got rid of Peanut Butter and Caramel Apple jelly beans. They were my go-to colors for mid-range fleshtones. I hoarded them. To get that medium value now, I put two beans together—like Honey Bean and Chili Mango. For a shadow here and there, I’ll throw in a blue or a purple bean.
My favorite Jelly Bean flavor is Sour Cherry. I really like the sours.
One of my biggest challenges is knowing when to add in that odd color to make a piece really pop. I always try to match the tones of my reference images as much as possible, but sometimes the result can look too dull. That’s when I start taking out some beans and add in a bean color to make it livelier.
I just started a private commission for Lola Salazar who is the owner of Lola’s Sugar Rush. It’s a cute image of her for her candy shop. I’m really excited about it! My commissioned pieces run about $3,500 to $5,000, depending on the size of the canvas.
My best friend’s son was upset that I didn’t include Harry Potter’s lightening scar in the portrait that I created. The reference image I was given to use from Warner Bros. didn’t include it. On the under-painting that I did, though, the scar is there. You just can’t see it because the beans cover it up.
Photo credits: Samuel Levi Jones (top photo), Kristen Cumings (jelly bean artwork photos)