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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



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Don’t miss out on this Spring Fling Shipping Deal at from now thru March 31! Just use the webcode “shipmarch” at checkout.

Shop Easter Candy, Single Color, Wedding Candy Buffet, and sweet Coconut candy, just to start!

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Cyber Monday Week


Cyber Monday has turned into Cyber Week at!

Over the next 5 days, enjoy free shipping on all $25 or more purchases (use webcode CYBER), plus earn double reward points.

So, every purchase that you make counts twice! That’s a $5 Reward every time you spend $50 on candy for friends and family (and for yourself).

Need a “wow!” Holiday Candy to make your dessert tables sparkle?

Try our new Milk Chocolate Milkies in 14 smashing colors!


Green Milk Chocolate MIlkies

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The 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo wrapped up last week in Chicago, and, as usual, it delivered on showcasing new and innovative products.

Here are some of our favorite finds from the show floor:

Reed’s and Regal Crown Candy Rolls
Old-fashioned Regal Crown sour fruit hard candy rolls, which originated from England’s Trebor Bassett in 1953, and Reed’s hard candy rolls, which debuted in 1893 via The Reed’s Candy Company, both fell off candy radar, but are now back! You can thank the New York-based Iconic Candy company for their revival. Each brand has kept its vintage graphics and stayed true to original flavors.

Reeds Candy Rolls


The re-released line of Reed’s Candy Rolls includes individually wrapped Cinnamon, Butter Scotch, Root Beer, and Caramel flavors, and the Regal Crown line includes individually wrapped Sour Orange, Sour Lemon, Sour Cherry, and Sour Grape flavors.



The Iconic Candy company has also revived the retired BarNone candy bar made with crispy chocolate wafers, chocolate cream, crushed peanuts, and a double layering of milk chocolate. The packaging on the BarNone is true to the original, minus the Hershey’s logo. A BarNone Jr. bar, weighing in at 0.8 oz. (half the size of the regular BarNone), will also soon be available.

BarNone Candy Bar

Ring Pop Gummies
It was only a matter of time before Bazooka Candy Brand went gummy with its Ring Pops. The chewy and 100% wearable bling comes in four colors and flavors, including Strawberry (pink), Cherry (red), Watermelon (green), and Blue Raspberry (blue). Ring Pop Gummies

Lemonhead Tins
Limited Edition 1.5-oz. Lemonhead Tins celebrate 50 years of Pucker Power. “At a time when legendary American companies are closing their doors, we are proud to honor one of Ferrara Candy Company’s longstanding brands with these commemorative tins,” says Ferrara Candy Company CEO Salvatore Ferrara II. Made with real lemon juice to give the candies their unique lemon flavor, Lemonhead candies are fat free and the tins are really cute. A fun alternative to ho-hum mint tins.

Lemonhead Tin

Coffee Thins
Although Tierra Nueva’s Coffee Thins were officially launched in August 2012, they’re still new to us and a fab find. Made from premium coffee beans, the small 0.5-oz. squares look and taste like chocolate, but are made from premium-roasted coffee beans and come in three flavors: Americano, Latte, and Espresso. Each square is approximately 60 to 70 calories, and is the equivalent of one 8-oz. cup of coffee. It’s a whole new, unique way to consume coffee and caught the attention of industry experts and candy buyers at the 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo who voted Coffee Thins “Most Innovative New Product – Non Chocolate Category.”

Coffee Thins

Cherry Hi-Chew
Hi-Chew, the soft and chewy candy from Japanese manufacturer Morinaga, now comes in a cherry flavor. It is surprising that cherry didn’t arrive sooner in the American market, but we’re happy to see it now in the Hi-Chew lineup. The cherry chews have great texture and the flavor is really, really good. Plus they’re gluten-free, cholesterol-free, and made with real fruit juices and purees. Score!

Hi-Chew Cherry


Jelly Belly Jewel Collection
Jelly Belly jelly beans have gone glam with edible pearlescent coatings that add a shimmer of brilliance to each bean’s color. The gem-inspired beans come in seven of Jelly Belly’s most popular flavors: Jewel Blueberry, Jewel Bubble Gum, Jewel Sour Apple, Jewel Cream Soda, Jewel Berry Blue, Jewel Orange, and Jewel Very Cherry. The pretty beans have huge potential for weddings, princess parties, and candy buffets.

Jewel Collection Jelly Belly Beans


Color Your Own Sweethearts
These black-and-white Sweetheart boxes are made specifically for coloring. The new 1 oz. packs will coincide with a coloring contest that will reward the top entrants in separate age groups with cool prizes. More detailed information, including rules and regulations, will be released closer to the 2014 Valentine’s Day season at
Color Your Sweethearts


A mega-trend also appeared on the show floor, which was impossible to miss: Teeny-tiny versions of popular candies. Here’s the lowdown:

• Mars debuted unwrapped Snickers and Milky Way Bites
• Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. unveiled unwrapped Starburst Minis and Life Savers Berry Bites Gummies
• Hershey’s launched unwrapped Kit Kat Minis, soft and chewy Jolly Rancher Bites, and Twizzlers Filled Fruity Bites
• Perfetti Van Melle USA launched Airheads Bites in fruit flavors
• The makers of Bonomo Turkish Taffy came out with chocolate-covered bits of banana- and vanilla-flavored taffy called “Bonomo Nibbles”
• Ferrara Candy Company debuted individually wrapped Chuckles Minis

Candy Bites


“Minis,” “Bites,” and “Nibbles” are undoubtedly the latest buzzwords in Candy Land, so it will be interesting to see if the pendulum swings back to “Giant” and “King-Sized” in 2014 … or if candies get even skinnier.

Stay tuned.

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