Archive for the ‘Trends’ Category

Nancy Pfeifer, party planner and owner of the etsy party supplies shop A to Zebra Celebrations, had a light-bulb moment after several customers inquired about where they could sell their used party supplies as well as buy the A to Zebra supplies that Nancy handcrafts and uses for her own parties.

That aha moment came this past spring, and on September 1, 2011, MyPartyIsOver.com was born.

I caught up with Nancy to see how her brilliant new e-baby is faring and what has transpired since her official launch. Read on …

Candy.com: In a nutshell, what is MyPartyIsOver.com?

Nancy: It’s a marketplace for customers to buy and sell new and used party decorations, props, etc.

Candy.com: What motivated you to launch MyPartyIsOver.com?

Nancy: I opened my A to Zebra Celebrations etsy shop back in October 2009. All of my items are handmade and designed by me.  My customers constantly ask if I can sell whatever I used on my daughters’ parties.  Some people have also inquired about where to sell their leftover party decorations after their party is over.  I researched for a place to do this, but found nothing.  I found a few wedding resale sites, but nothing for all parties.

Candy.com: What’s been your biggest surprise so far since launching MyPartyIsOver.com?

Nancy: The traffic to the site in addition to how quickly things have sold.  The site launched on September 1, 2011, and became popular right away. The Facebook page reached 1,000 fans in the first month. I have had over 30 countries visit the site in the last four weeks. The feedback from fans has been extremely positive. I am pleased how well things are going.

Candy.com In addition to used party products, will you accept new, overstock items?

Nancy: Anybody can sell new or used products as long as they are party-related.

Candy.com: Are there any party items you won’t list on your site (i.e. perishables)?

Nancy: No damaged or stained items.  No pornographic materials.  Candy and related party food items are permissible.

Candy.com: I understand that your registration is free, but there is a small fee to place a listing. How much is it?

Nancy: The listing fee is $0.75 cents per item, per month. No percentage taken from a sale. Upgrading a listing to the homepage is $0.95 cents per item, per month.

Candy.com: What are your pricing guidelines?

Nancy: My suggestion is to sell your items on the low end if you really want them out of your closet. People that visit my site want to shop a great bargain. If you over-price your items, they will not sell. You must also consider the shipping costs and how this can be a turn off to the buyer.

My rule of thumb is …

New items: 25-30% off the retail price
Used items: 50-60% off the retail price

Candy.com: What are the benefits of using your site vs. ebay or Craigslist to list gently used products?

Nancy: One of the benefits to use my website is that I don’t charge a percentage of sales like ebay does. Another advantage is that I am getting thousands of visitors every day. My visitors are strictly looking for party items, so you have a better chance at selling them quick.  Craigslist is free and popular for selling household items, but not party-related items.

Candy.com: So far, what type or category of items seem to be selling best?

Nancy: Party banners are selling the most in addition to party decor such as centerpieces, candle holders, vases, favors, etc.

Candy.com: Has it been difficult finding party throwers to list their used products?

Nancy: Yes, it has been difficult. Social media and marketing like Facebook and Twitter are very helpful, but they are a full-time job. I am trying to manage this website and my A to Zebra Celebrations shop while also doing my own marketing. These things are in addition to being a housewife and stay-at-home mother of two beautiful girls. It’s a challenge.

Candy.com: Your site is so well organized and easy to use! How long did it take from start to finish to get it launched?

Nancy: My idea to create this website was back in April. I knew I wanted something trendy, fun, and easy to navigate. I did my research and hired someone to start creating the site in May. I wanted the launch date to be September 1, 2011, so we made it happen in six months. There are still some changes and improvements I hope to get done in 2012. However, I will be offering advertising spots in the next couple of weeks.

Congrats Nancy! For more information, visit:

MyPartyIsOver.com
Facebook/MyPartyIsOver
Twitter/MyPartyIsOver

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in Business, Candy, Candy Buffets, News, Trends

Starbucks cups are dressed in red, Target’s Christmas aisles are up and twinkling, and peppermint candy canes are selling like hotcakes at Candy.com. This can only mean one thing. It’s game on for holiday party season.

That said, I did a little holiday party planning homework for you by contacting two prominent party planning/candy buffet experts to find out which candies they’ll be using on their clients’ holiday dessert tables and what trends they’re noticing as the holidays draw near. Here’s the skinny …

“Out with traditional red and green, and in with unique pairs like red and aqua, red and pink, and silver and white!” That’s the holiday hue forecast from Courtney Dial, founder and editor of Pizzazzerie, co-founder of The Bakery Spot, and author of the new book Push-up Pops, which is now available for pre-order.

Courtney’s forecast closely matches Pantone’s Color of the Year 2011 – Turquoise 15-5519, and Color of the Year 2010 – Honeysuckle Pink 18-2120.

To get Courtney’s modern and chic color palettes to really pop on a dessert table, try using SweetWorks’ new Celebration Collection of single-color candies, which includes Sixlets, Gumballs, and Candy Pearls in matte and shimmer options as well as foiled chocolate hearts and balls. (Click on any of the SweetWorks candies below to learn more.)

According to Courtney,  “Retro Holiday” is also hot. To set the stage for a nostalgic vibe, she suggests candies like Mallo Cups, old-fashioned candy sticks, and thin ribbon candy, and using wax lips as a sweet prop in a photo booth station. “Of course everything on a stick is as popular as ever,” she adds, “so use a bit of royal icing ‘glue’ to attach the wax lips to a lollipop stick.”

Courtney’s also a big fan of gingerbread decorating parties. “Whether it’s a princess pink gingerbread house theme or a traditional one, kids and adults alike absolutely go crazy over decorating sweet houses for the holidays,” she says.

Last year, Courtney hosted a Holiday Pink Tea Party where the guests created pink and white gingerbread houses. “It was a huge hit,” she says. Looking at her blog post and photos, yes it was.

Photos courtesy of Pizzazzerie

When asked what specific candy Courtney and her team favor during the holidays, Courtney offers up the peppermint stick. “They’re the cutest treat to serve alongside a hot chocolate bar or dip in chocolate for an extra-sweet favor,” she explains.

Courtney suggests building a peppermint candy station at holiday parties and letting kids dip their peppermints in milk and white chocolate and add a variety of colored sprinkles. Cute!

Marie Dannettelle, the founder of California-based Sweets Indeed, a company that specializes in high-end custom candy and dessert stations, says she consistently gets rave reviews when she includes caramels, peppermint bark, and homemade toffee on a holiday dessert table. Another of Marie’s perennial favorites? Gumdrops.

“To me, it’s not the holidays unless there’s a bowl of spice drops (gumdrops) around,” she explains. “In past years, we’ve even used them to make wreaths, trees, topiaries, necklaces, and more! One of these days I’ll create a dessert station centered around them.”

Candy.com now has mini and jumbo gumdrops to create the coolest Gingerbread House on the cul-de-sac. (For more product info, click on the gumdrops image above.)

For the 2011 holiday season, Marie also says she’s going to mix it up and stay away from traditional red and green. “I think pastels will make a big show in Christmas decor this year, especially in the desserts and candy section,” she says.

To achieve the softer holiday schematic for her clients, Marie is looking to Hammond’s Candy for its hand-pulled candy canes, candy ribbons, pillows, and straw candies offered in non-traditional, yet highly festive colors like bubble gum pink, berry blue, and sour apple green.

Marie and her team are also relying on their own handmade holiday Candy Kabobs to punch up holiday parties. (Candy Kabobs are available for purchase at SweetsIndeed.com.) The candy combinations and themes are crazy creative, vibrant, and fun. Here are a few teasers …

Photos courtesy of Sweets Indeed and The Pixel Studio

Many thanks to Courtney and Marie for their holiday party tips, trends, and go-to candies!

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Now that the 2011 Sweets & Snacks EXPO has come in for a landing, and I’ve had a chance to sift through my notes scribbles, candy samples, and manufacturer marketing materials, I have a few more confectionery wunderkinds that need to be shared.

Anne Taintor and Knock Knock Chocolate Bars
The PRAIM Group

Paul Pruett, founder of the PRAIM Group, is known for producing clever chocolate bar products (Bloomsberry USA, Bubble Chocolate, and Bosco).  His latest venture is the creation and distribution of 3.5-ounce all-natural milk and dark chocolate bars for the individual brands Anne Taintor, Inc. and Knock Knock.

I’ve been a fan of Anne Taintor’s vintage/irreverent accessories for a number of years and I came to know Knock Knock stationery and accessories a few months ago while holiday shopping. I fell in love with Knock Knock’s “WTF” self-inking stamp and post-it notes.

Here’s a peek at both brands’ designs, now appearing on chocolate bar wrappers (you might recognize the artwork):

My favorite chocolate bar in the lineup is the “99 Ways to Survive the Holidays.” I may gift a few of these to myself this holiday season and follow suggestion No. 69, “Up the dosage.”

According to Amy Goldsmith, a spokesperson for the PRAIM Group, the bars are shipping to retail stores as of today, so look for them on Candy.com shortly.

Dippin’ Ice Cream Candy and Flix Mix
Imaginings 3, Inc. (Flix Candy brand)

When I stepped into the Imaginings 3/Flix Candy booth and saw signage for the company’s new Dippin’ Ice Cream Candy, I was skeptical. My kids have tapped my wallet multiple times for the expensive Dippin’ Dots ice cream pellets at baseball games, so seeing the brand in a candy format didn’t make me jump for joy. Plus, if I was going to pick an ice cream brand to morph into a candy, I’d lean toward Ben & Jerry’s.

Even so, I plunged ahead with a sample of the Cookies ‘n Cream Dippin’ Ice Cream candy (it’s also available in Banana Split). The product, which is made in the USA and available in a 2.6-ounce theater box and 1.6-ounce pouch, is a blend of tiny cookie bits and equally tiny cream bits—think Oreo cookie and its creamy white middle cut into teeny-tiny round dots. The Banana Split variety is blend of chocolate, banana, strawberry, and vanilla cream bits.

Bottom line, the Cookies ‘n Cream Dippin’ Ice Cream candy was quite a bit better than I expected. The cookie bits had a surprisingly good crunch and the creamy bits weren’t sticky or too stiff. I would sneak them into the movies.

Also sneak-in worthy is Flix Candy’s Flix Mix, a combination of crisp rice cereal coated with real milk chocolate and peanut butter, then dusted with powdered sugar. Flix Mix tastes remarkably like the no-bake Chex Muddy Buddies (also known as “Puppy Chow”) that infiltrates most offices and cookbooks during the holidays. If you are a sweet cereal mixer, you won’t be disappointed.

Flix Mix is available in a 2.2-ounce theater box and 4.5-ounce peg bag.

Shimmer Gumballs
SweetWorks (Oak Leaf Brand)

SweetWorks‘ new Shimmer Gumballs were one of the prettiest candies at last week’s Sweets & Snacks EXPO.

Julie Davidson, the company’s eastern regional sales manager, created a beautiful candy buffet table in the middle of the SweetWorks booth that showed off the pearly round gems (see pics below).

I could see these shimmering gumballs strung into garland or necklaces for parties … or displayed in apothecary jars at Tiffany’s. They are that glam.



SweetWorks’  Shimmer Gumballs are available in bulk in lime green (my favorite!), bright pink, lavender, powder blue, yellow, orange, and white. Starting in July, the gumballs will also be available in 8-ounce bags as part of SweetWorks’ new Celebration line.

The single-color Shimmer Gumball colors match SweetWorks’ line of single-color Pearl Sixlets. (See “Sixlets” jar in photo above.) Custom colors are available upon request.

Dorval Premium Collection Chocolate Sticks
Dorval Trading Co., Ltd.

Dorval Trading Co. now has its own line of all-natural chocolate sticks, which replaces the importing company’s Rademaker chocolate sticks from Holland. The new Dorval Premium Collection Chocolate Sticks are made with real chocolate and are packaged in 2.64-ounce boxes fit for gifting.

Of the four varieties in this line (Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Mint Dark Chocolate, and Caramel Milk Chocolate), the Caramel Milk Chocolate sticks are the most interesting. They  aren’t filled with caramel, but rather the flavor is infused in the chocolate.

Normally, I’m not into flavor infusions when it comes to chocolate—give me the straight dope—but the caramel flavoring in these solid sticks isn’t overpowering or cloying. The chocolate is good quality, and reminds me of Guittard’s smooth milk chocolate. Perhaps it is.

The Dorval Premium Collection Chocolate Sticks are scheduled to ship July/August 2011.

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Day one at the 2011 Sweets & Snacks EXPO, and the show floor reflected the state of the confectionery industry—still booming.

According to the National Confectioners Association, the confectionery industry posted a 3.6% gain in 2010, and in the 52 weeks ending April 17, 2011, the highest performing major confectionery segments based on unit sales were:

Single Chocolate Bars +8.5%
Seasonal Christmas Chocolate +7.2%
Snack Size Chocolate Bars +6.4%
Hard Candy Pkg/Rolls +4.4%
Chewy Candy +3.6%
Licorice +3.6%
Sugarless Gum +2.2%

Source: SymphonyIRI Group

All of these categories were well-represented on the show floor today. Here are a few that winked at me:

Candy Corn Jelly Beans and Mint Chocolate Dips
Jelly Belly, Booth 831

It was just a matter of time before Jelly Belly would take cues from its classic Candy Corn and create a Candy Corn-flavored jelly bean. Officially available in June, Jelly Belly’s Candy Corn jelly beans have a buttery taste with a hint of vanilla. The new beans will be available year round and come in 10-pound bulk cases and 9-ounce packages.

Also new from Jelly Belly are Mint Chocolate Dips. The Mint Chocolate Dips are a new flavor in Jelly Belly’s chocolate-dipped jelly bean collection. These beans are good, too! What I didn’t realize until today is that Jelly Belly chocolate-dipped beans don’t have the typical jelly bean sugar shell; the chocolate layer is the shell.  I also learned from Jelly Belly’s director of communications, Tomi Holt, that the Chocolate Dips are slightly less caloric than regular Jelly Belly jelly beans (3.7 vs. 4 calories per bean). While writing this post, I polished off two mini bags of Very Cherry Dips and don’t feel one bit guilty.

Hard Candy Shot Glasses
Melville Candy Company, Booth 2002
Gummy shot glasses created some good buzz last year. This year, it’s hard candy shot glasses.

The family-owned Melville Candy Company has created seasonal and everyday sets of hard candy shot glasses. I like the swirled variety above—perfect for when “Bridesmaids” and “Hangover 2” come out on DVD. Also new from Melville are lava lamp-shaped lollipops. I took a photo of these today, but since I am a rotten photographer, I’ll leave them up to your imagination. Based on buyer reaction in Melville’s booth, I will say that candy shot glasses and lava lamp pops have serious legs.

Chocolate Krispy Treats
Forbidden Sweets, Booth 2463

This booth was mobbed today. And, I know why. The company’s “Chocolate Krispy Treats” on a stick are creative, adorable, and come in zillions of designs, shapes, and colors. They taste good, too, and have a six-month shelf life.

One of the Forbidden Sweets‘ owners told me that the Peanuts Gallery collection (above, left), was created for and is carried by Hallmark stores. Take a look at the crisped food collection (above right) all on sticks. Love the mushroom and pickle.

Each treat is packed on a sturdy sucker stick in a clear cello bag and measures about 4 inches in diameter. The treats ship 8 per case.

Sugar-Free Glee
Verve, inc., Booth 1456

It’s happened. Verve, inc., the makers of Glee Gum, ventured into sugar-free and now have two products in the category: Lemon Lime and Refresh Mint gum.

Both products are sweetened with 100% xylitol, a sugar alcohol extracted from birch tree bark.

Sugar-Free Glee, like the rest of the Glee Gum line, is all-natural and made without artificial coloring, flavoring, sweeteners or preservatives.

The chewy texture comes from chicle, a tree sap harvested sustainably to help conserve the rainforest. Sugar-Free Glee is also gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, and GMO-free. Packaged in recycled cardboard rather than blister packs, each box contains 15 pieces of gum.

Chocolate Squares for Zzzz’s
Slumberland Snacks, Booth 1876
The Upstate Dream Institute in Ithaca, NY, came to the Sweets & Snacks EXPO with “Slumberland Snacks Chocolatey Sleep Squares: The bedtime delight that helps you sleep through the night.”

I kid you not. (Full disclosure, I have yet to try these nighty-night squares for fear of nodding off in the middle of the trade show floor, but they are intriguing. Additional disclosure: Sleep Squares actually launched at the 2010 Natural Products Expo East Show in Boston, but they’re new to me, so I’m plopping them in this post.)

According to Slumberland Snack’s Web site, the sleep mechanisms in these squares are “Traditional herbs: Blue Vervain, Passionflower Extract, L-Theanine, Hops Extract Brain Fuels: L-5-HTP, Choline L-Bitartate, and Melatonin.”

If I have the guts to try these tomorrow—day 2 of the show—I’ll let you know how I fare. ?The product is currently available in two sizes: a 7 count (one week’s supply) and a 30 count (one month’s supply), and comes in three flavors: Original, Raspberry, and Orange.

Zanies Marshmallow Candy
Spangler Candy Company, Booth 1937

This Christmas, the Spangler Candy Company is introducing its newest marshmallow product, Zanies Wacky Marshmallow Candy. The packaging is vibrant and fun, and I think kids will dig it. Mine did when I showed them the image.

Zanies feature four Christmas-shaped marshmallow characters; Oliver Orange – an ornament, Gretchen Grape – a Christmas star, Sarah Strawberry – a stocking, and Adam Apple – a Christmas tree. Ideal for stockings and secret Santa gifts, kids can collect all four character ornament cut-outs featured on the back of each display carton.

Each 2.5-ounce pack contains 10 Zanies marshmallows.

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