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.