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The controversy surrounding sugar only seems to be growing each year, leaving the the confectionery industry with a quandary regarding the use of sweeteners in its products.

There are multiple sugar substitutes available such as honey, fruit sugar and high fructose corn syrup. However, each has downsides and many are no healthier than conventional sugar.

Stevia, however, is different from most other sugar substitutes: it has zero calories and is actually sweeter than conventional sugar. Coca Cola has already put its support behind stevia, working hard since the mid 2000s to legalize and develop rebaudioside A, an extract of stevia. The company also has exclusive rights to develop and sell rebaudioside A in beverages, leading PepsiCo to develop rebaudioside D, another steviol glycoside.

Sugar Substitutes

Sugar Substitutes

The soft-drink industry is using the anti-sugar movement as an opportunity to expand and diversify their product range: Coca Cola has released Coke Life in countries in South America and Europe, and plans to bring it to the US by the end of this year. PepsiCo, not to be outdone, is set to release a stevia-sweetened version of Sierra Mist in the fall.

Coca Cola partnered with Cargill, the makers of the increasingly popular Truvia® branded products, to research and develop rebaudioside A, with both companies successfully petitioning the FDA to lift its ban on stevia extracts as food additives. PepsiCo co-developed rebaudioside D with Whole Earth Sweetener, a subsidiary of Merisant, the sweetener subsidiary of Monsanto. Merisant’s PureVia®, launched as a competitor to Cargill’s Truvia®, has met success in Europe, though it has not been as successful at home.

Fresh Stevia Rebaudiana and sugar in a spoon

Stevia leaves

Production of stevia is growing at a substantial rate as well, with some tobacco farmers switching to the new crop for which they anticipate a large market. Some say that stevia may one day, in the not to distant future, account for up to one third of the $58 billion sweetener industry.  Given that stevia is relatively new to the marketplace, it is difficult to determine whether it is more expensive to use as a sweetener than sugar. Despite this, the price seems advantageous enough to the soft-drink industry.

While many products on the shelves of supermarkets today may claim to be sweetened with stevia, it is actually a misnomer. Stevia, a plant whose leaves were used as a sweetener by ancient South Americans is currently banned by the US Food and Drug Administration, which has named concerns over its effects on “blood sugar and…the reproductive, cardiovascular, and renal systems.” Instead, these products are sweetened with steviol glycosides, purified extracts from the stevia plant, and are simply marketed as ‘stevia’ giving it a more wholesome, ‘all natural’, image.

One critique of products sweetened with steviol glycosides is their sometimes-bitter aftertaste. Coca Cola has addressed this issue by mixing in sucrose. Of course, this only solves half of the problem, as more than half of the sweetener is sugar. However, research is currently underway to eliminate this bitter aftertaste, meaning that stevia extracts could very well become the healthy sugar alternative that the confectionery industry needs.

 

Julian Sahyoun

 

Sources

https://cspinet.org/new/pdf/stevia-report_final-8-14-08.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebiana

http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Regulation/Stevia-sweetener-gets-US-FDA-go-ahead?utm_source=copyright&utm_medium=OnSite&utm_campaign=copyright

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-24/growers-dump-tobacco-for-stevia-see-58-billion-market.html

http://www.stevia.com/Stevia_article/Stevia_Sweetener_of_Choice_for_Future_Generations/2413

http://blog.candy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/sugar-infograph-png-011.jpg

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/healthyeating/9987825/Sweet-poison-why-sugar-is-ruining-our-health.html

http://herbs.org/greenpapers/controv.html#stevia

http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm214864.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia

http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/05/31/us-cocacola-cargill-idUSN3124162820070531

https://truvia.com/pdfs/maki_et_al_DM_2008.pdf

http://www.healthy.net/Health/Article/FDA_Approves_Stevia_as_a_Safe_Food_Additive/8199

http://www.fda.gov/ucm/groups/fdagov-public/@fdagov-foods-gen/documents/document/ucm403848.pdf

http://www.ift.org/food-technology/past-issues/2011/april/features/ensuring-the-safety-of-sweeteners-from-stevia.aspx?page=viewall

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/w_DietAndFitness/sweet-nothings-artificial-sweeteners-splenda-equal-sweetn-low/story?id=16548908

http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm397725.htm#Steviol_glycosides

http://www.businessinsider.com/stevia-natural-zero-calorie-sweetener-2014-6

https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/long/article/29621/

http://fortune.com/2014/06/27/zevia-pepsi-coke/

http://www.beveragedaily.com/Manufacturers/PepsiCo-CEO-slams-maniacal-cola-focus-says-Stevia-does-not-suit-category

http://designyoutrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Coke.jpg

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130330/ISSUE01/303309964/pure-via-takes-on-truvia-in-the-non-sugar-bowl

http://news.morningstar.com/articlenet/article.aspx?id=656951

http://globalsteviainstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Steviawithsugarinspoon.jpg

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in Business, Candy, International, Natural, News, Sugar-Free, Trends

March Madness is just days away, which means spring wedding, baby shower, and Easter season is about to be in full bloom. The Candy.com team has been busy scouting new products for spring and there are plenty.

Here is a look at some of the headliners …

 

FLOWER POPS

Flower Pops
Blue, orange, green, white, blue, red, and assorted Flower Pop lollipops are perfect for candy buffets, weddings, parties, party favors, popping into cupcakes, creating candy bouquets, and a million other things.

Each candy flower measures approximately 1.5 inch wide  x 1.5-inch high and sits on a 7.5-inch flexible plastic stick. The pops come individually wrapped inside an 8-piece 2.5 oz. peg bag, and there are 72 pieces that ship in each order.

 

CANDY  LUNCH BOXES

Candy Lunch Boxes
Fill these candy-themed lunch boxes with respective Nerds, Dots, Tootsie Rolls, Sugar Daddy Pops, and Junior Mints, and you’ll get an A+ for creative gifting.

RAINFOREST GUMMY FROGS

Rainforest Gummi FrogsNew Rainforest Gummi Frogs are not only adorable little buggers, but they’re also gluten-free! With their shock-and-awe neon coloring, these candy frogs are great for spring parties … and placing on your coworker’s desk chair.

 

FASHIONABLE  TRUFFLE BARS

 Seattle Chocolates

If Tory Burch were to design a line of chocolates, this would be it. The fashion-forward Dark and Milk Truffle Bars from Seattle Chocolate are sublime for many reasons, including color, design, flavor, all-natural ingredients, Seattle roots, and fun factor. Who wouldn’t want to surprise Birthday Cake Batter Truffle Bar with colorful confetti pieces sprinkled throughout? Or a box of sunny yellow Milk Chocolate Truffle Bars to brighten up a dull Monday? Yum!

 

4 NEW GUMMY BEARS

 

Four New Gummy Bears

Single-color candy is all the rage for candy buffets and now there are four more color and flavor options. Gummi bears (5-pound bulk) in White Strawberry-Banana (opaque white), Black Cherry (black), Mighty Mango (yellow), and Pink Grapefruit (light pink) are ideal for adding a pop of color to any tablescape.

 

BARNYARD GUM TAPE

Barnyard Gum

What does the cow, pig, and sheep say? Bubble Gum! Pop the top on these farm animals for a whole roll of gum tape. Cute party favors for barnyard bashes and farm-themed birthday parties.

 

LINDT LOVE BUNNIES

 Lindt Gold Love Bunnies

Two classic Lindt Gold Bunnies locking lips in an Easter Basket. Three words: Adorable Easter Gift. The 3.5-oz. love nest is finished with spring green bow, so you don’t even have to wrap a thing.

 

PEEPS RAINBOW POPS

Peeps Rainbow PopsIt’s yellow, green, pink, and blue Peeps Chicks on a stick! Far better than corn dogs or deep-fried Twinkies, Peeps Rainbow Pops scream, “Put me in your Easter basket.” Our set comes in a pack of four, so everyone gets to devour the rainbow … one color at a time.

Click here to see ALL that’s new for spring at Candy.com.

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80-YEARS-LOGO-2012

So many nostalgic candies and their founding family-owned companies have come and gone—or moved on to larger corporations—but the Atkinson family and its classic Chick-O-Sticks, Peanut Butter Bars, peppermints, and coconut candies are still going strong after 80+ years.

Company president, Eric Atkinson, gave us a glimpse into his family’s rich candy history as well as juicy details on the brand new Chick-O-Stick wrapper. Read on …

Candy.com: The Atkinson Candy Company is like so many great candy companies: family-owned. How many of your family members currently work at your headquarters?

Eric Atkinson: I represent the third generation, my nephew Jeremy Jones represents our fourth generation, and my cousin, Billy Atkinson is on our board of directors. Billy is a retired accountant from Price Waterhouse who is taking our company to new levels with brand acquisitions. It’s really an exciting time for us.

 

Candy.com: I read that your company was founded by B. E. Atkinson, Sr. and Mabel C. Atkinson  in the 1930s in Lufkin, Texas. How are you related to the founders?

Eric Atkinson: They are my grandparents. I’d go fishing with my grandma down at their lake house all the time. In the morning, I’d get up and go with grand daddy out to the plant. I loved that as a kid. My grandma would wrap the candy by hand and I got to play in the sacks of peanuts. When I got older, I loaded up the trucks.

B.E. Atkinson, Sr., founder, Atkinson Candy Company
Candy.com:
What was it like growing up surrounded by candy?

Eric Atkinson: It was great. At the plant, I got to go around with a paper bag and fill it with candy to take home and eat. That’s how I learned about eating candy in moderation! Back then, we were making the same candy we make today with the same recipes: peppermints, coconut candy, Chick-O-Sticks, and Peanut Butter Bars. Those candies really represented the candies of the day. Forrest Mars and Milton Hershey were just getting into chocolate. Around 1960, my Uncle Joe, who was an engineer, developed the machine that makes our Mint Twists. It cuts our mints and puts our signature twist into them. We still use Uncle Joe’s machine today.

 

Candy.com: Can consumers visit your company factory in Lufkin, Texas?CandyKitchenLogo

Eric Atkinson: Yes! We have a store within our plant that we call the “Candy Kitchen.” It’s the same name my grand dad used for our plant. In the Candy Kitchen, customers can watch a film that gives a tour of our plant and shows how we make our candy. The Candy Kitchen is set up for customers to also purchase products.

 

Candy.com: Who came up with the name Chick-O-Stick … and is there a story behind the name?

Eric Atkinson: Originally, Chick-O-Sticks were called Chicken Bones. They look like a piece of fried chicken or chicken legs, so I guess that’s how they got their name, but I don’t know that for sure. Back in the 1950s, my Uncle Joe and our VP of sales found out that “Chicken Bones” was already a trademarked name. I believe it was the artist for our candy boxes at the time who actually came up with the name Chick-O-Stick … and it stuck.

 

Candy.com: We’ve heard change is coming to Chick-O-Stick packaging, which is set to debut in January. What can you tell us about the new wrapper?”

Eric Atkinson: We want our customers to “Embrace the Break.” It’s OK to break and share a Chick-O-Stick. So, do it … it’s fun! We give you permission. Our new wrapper includes the phrase, “Break Me, Share Me” to encourage a crack down. The film structure of the packaging is also brand new and extends the shelf life of the product. It’s made on a state-of-the-art machine from Italy. We’re really excited about it.

Chick-O-Stick Candy

 

Candy.com: OK, we have to ask. What’s your all-time favorite Atkinson candy?

Eric Atkinson: Coconut Long Boys. I prefer the Juniors.

CoconutLongBoys2

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Ford Gum LogoFord Gum and Machine Co., Inc. is the American manufacturer behind the beloved Big League Chew, as well as unique licensed products such as Mike & Ike Bubble Gum, Hot Tamales Sugar Free Gum, and Smarties Gumballs.

The story of Ford Gum began in 1913.

Back then, 20-year-old Ford Mason was a roofing contractor and supplemented his income during the winter months in Buffalo, NY, with gum vending. The first U.S. gum ball machine was invented in 1888, and just a handful of entrepreneurs had ventured into the business.

Ford borrowed money to lease 102 machines and placed them in stores and shops of communities in western New York State. As Ford gained more experience, he was convinced that the penny gum ball could support him. At his peak, Ford had more than 500,000 vending machines perched on store counters and pipe pedestals and a nationwide system of service operators.

Flash forward to 2012.

Ford’s legacy lives on at the Ford Gum & Machine Co., which still has a commercial vending business, but gum vending has shifted dramatically.

“At that time, everything vended for a penny. There are no more penny vending machines and the majority of items today are capsules and toys,” explains Steve Greene, senior VP of sales and marketing, Ford Gum and Machine Co., Inc. “If you look at an eight rack of vending machines today, you will see two or three that vend candy, one that vends gum, and the rest are toys and capsules.”

The majority of Ford Gum’s business today is in retail sales—either branded products that the company manufacturers and markets for itself, or private label products Ford Gum manufactures for other marketing concerns.

One of its biggest deals was the 2010 licensing agreement for the Big League Chew brand along with the manufacturing equipment from the Rob Nelson Company.

“This deal brought back the product manufacturing to the United States at the Ford Gum facility in Akron, N.Y., and added 40 new jobs,” says Steve.

Big League Chew actually came to market 32 years ago via minor league pitcher Rob Nelson and former New York Yankee All-Star, Jim Bouton. The two met while both pitching for the Portland Mavericks, and created the gum as an alternative to chewing tobacco. Brilliant!

The same pouch that Rob and Jim dreamed up in the Mavericks’ bullpen back in 1977, can now be personalized with photos and names at MyBigLeagueChew.com.


Steve says it’s a fairly new program for Ford Gum, but he’s seeing a lot of pouches customized as wedding and party favors, and used for birthday parties and team functions. ($48 for 12 pack.)

Thinking outside of the pouch, Ford Gum also launched individually wrapped Big League Gumballs and Big League Bubblegum Lollipops at the Sweets & Snacks EXPO in Chicago this past May.

Big League Chew Gumballs and Lollipops

Both products are available in the Big League Chew flavors: Outta Here Original, Grape, Sour Apple, and Watermelon. (This also happens to be the order of best-selling Big League Chew flavors.)

Ford Gum has come a long way since 1913, and we’re looking forward to the next chapter in innovative gum products. Bring it on Ford!

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