Archive for the ‘Trends’ Category

There has been quite a bit of talk on Twitter and the food blogs this week over the classic combination of peppermint and chocolate.

Slashfood came out with a slide show of The Best Peppermint Treats. (Spoiler alert: Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares, Dove Peppermint Bark Promises, and Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses made the cut.)

Cybele May of CandyBlog.net just gave Russell Stover’s Peppermint Bark Snowman a favorable review.

Today on MarthaStewart.com, editor Amy Conway, posts a super-simple Candy Cane Ice Cream Sandwich made with crushed candy canes and chocolate wafers.

This all makes me wonder …

What’s your favorite Peppermint-Chocolate Treat?

Is it …

- Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares

- Dove Peppermint Promises

- Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses

- York Peppermint Patties

- Andes Mints (did you know Andes Mints are now available as baking chips? I just spied them at Target!)

- Junior Mints (must see heart-shaped Junior Mints!)

- Williams-Sonoma’s Peppermint Bark

- Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s

… or something else?

Name your peppermint-chocolate poison after this post or on Facebook. Mine? Dove’s Peppermint Bark Promises. One bite, tons of choco-pepperminty bark.

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Now here’s an interesting holiday fact from the National Confectioners Association (NCA):

“When eating candy canes, boys are almost twice as likely to crunch their candy canes than girls.”

Intrigued by this gender mind bender, I decided to do a little candy cane consumption testing of my own. Yesterday, my two children came home after school and I presented them each with a candy cane. They looked at me like I had 10 heads since it’s early November and candy canes aren’t typical after-school fare.

I watched with a careful eye as they consumed their canes while muddling through homework. And sure enough, my son crunched his immediately and my daughter took her sweet time to create a super-sharp point on the straight end to poke her brother. Little devil.

Crunch or no crunch aside, candy canes do have a huge fan base. The NCA reports that more than 1.8 billion candy canes will be made for the winter holiday season in traditional peppermint flavor as well as non-traditional flavors like super-sour, fruit, and tropical fruit.

Based on the number of newcomer brands to the candy cane category like Jolly Rancher, Now & Later, Sour Patch, Bubblicious, Jelly Belly, Cinnabon (yes, Cinnabon), etc., I would venture to guess that the 1.8 billion figure won’t be shrinking anytime soon.

Even so, I am traditionalist. Only peppermint candy canes for me this holiday season, and I’ll savor them to a nice, sharp point.

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Print Cates, director of franchise operations at California-based Powell’s Sweet Shoppe, is one lucky guy.

Print travels the world to scout out the latest and greatest candy for all 17 Powell’s Sweet Shoppe locations (plus a new store opening Nov. 17, 2010, in Berkeley, Calif., … but more on that below).

Print also works with each new Powell’s Sweet Shoppe owner to create a unique store theme through lighting, design, signage, display fixtures, and props. Each store is truly a work of art.

In between buying trips and getting ready for the Berkeley store launch, the mah-jorly fun and creative Print Cates took time out to chat with Candy.com about his enviable job, candy trends, the new store opening, and what’s next for Powell’s.

Candy.com: Heard you shared what it’s like to be a professional candy buyer at the 2010 Kid’s Candy Choice Awards sponsored by ECRM and Retail Confectioner magazine. What was the response from the small fries?

Print Cates: All ears were on deck when they learned how to be a candy buyer: the technique, and the end result—actually choosing the items. The kids had to choose items for other people to purchase in their “mock” stores and they quickly realized that they had to think about what candies other people liked, not just what they liked.


Candy.com
: So which candies won top honors at the 2010 Kid’s Candy Choice Awards?

Print Cates:
The first place award went to Farley’s and Sathers Candy Co, Inc. for its Trolli brand “Big Bold Bears” gummy candy. Coming in second was Schuster Products with its “Ginormous Silly Swirl” bubble gum, and Innovative Candy Concepts took third with “Too Tarts Smart Choice All Kidz Blend.”

Candy.com: I know Powell’s Sweet Shoppe has grand store openings. What do you have up your sleeve for the Nov. 17 soft opening and Nov. 20 official opening of the Berkeley, Calif., store?

Print Cates: On the soft opening date, five lucky children get to come in for a private shopping experience 31 minutes before the doors open. It will be very Wonka-esque. Then, when the doors open, our friends, family, and business associates get to come in and see the store. The grand opening is another story. We have a magician, clown, balloon maker, band, a Wonka character, a Moon Pie character, a Jelly Belly character, and so much more in store. Television, radio, and newspaper press will be there. It is going to be quite a show!

Inside Powell's Sweet Shoppe in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

At the Chico, Calif., store, customers select gum from the "Gum Card Catalogue."


Candy.com
: You travel the world to scout candy for Powell’s Sweet Shoppes. Any new products or trends that have stopped you in your tracks lately?

Print Cates:
Edible Gummy Bandz (like the rubber “Silly Bandz” that kids wear on their wrists) are extremely popular as well as Candy Blood from an IV bag. Disgusting and fun. Vampires have to eat too!

Candy.com: What’s the No. 1 selling candy item across all of your stores?

Print Cates:
Other than [the original] Wonka Bars (so very sad they are discontinued), our No. 1 candy item in our stores is ZOTZ.  ZOTZ is consistently in the top five throughout the year.

Candy.com: Does the list of top 10 candy brands vary much from store to store?

Print Cates: Not Really. Tried-and-true items are tried-and-true items. You might have a spike if a new item comes into the market, but the business always revolves around the basics. Just like the grocery store, we have our items that are like milk, bread, meat, vegetables, and eggs.


Candy.com:
Of the four major candy seasons (Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter), which one brings in the most customers at Powell’s Sweet Shoppes?

Print Cates:
Actually, we have 5 seasons:) Our fifth is season is summer. Definitely, summer season brings in the most customers, but if I had to say the one specific “holiday” season that is our strongest, it’s Christmas. We are known for the place to be for stocking stuffers! Our main merchandising and look of the stores follow all of the five seasons.


Candy.com:
You are a retail merchandising crackerjack forever coming up with clever ways to showcase and sell candy in your stores. The last time we talked, you were freezing Queen Anne Cordial Cherries in gelato cases for summertime treats. Any out-there merchandising tactics you’ve come up with lately?

Print Cates: I am loving mannequins! They are so fun and can be dressed to match the season or theme that you are creating. There is so much you can do using the packaging that the manufacturers have created. Turning cardboard into “clothing” is just another level. And it’s  free!

Mannequin decked out in Sugar Daddy gear at the Powell's Sweet Shoppe in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Candy.com: Last time we talked, you mentioned a proprietary gelato that Powell’s created with the Annabelle Candy Company (makers of Abba-Zaba, Rocky Road, Big Hunk, U-No, and Look! bars). What’s the scoop?

Print Cates: We have liaised with Annabelle to create an Abba-Zaba and a Rocky Road gelato about 10 months ago and both flavors have been a great success. We are the only retailer with these co-branded items. Powell’s is always looking for opportunities to work with manufacturers to come up with unique items for our stores to carry.


Candy.com:
It’s great to see candy buffets popping up at most every event these days. Are any of your store owners offering candy buffet catering services?

Print Cates
: We have several stores that are having fun doing candy buffets. They are a unique, fun, interactive item to have at any celebration. The stores are currently doing these in test mode, which we are evaluating and then we’ll see how we can roll these out franchise-wide. By understanding the process, we can then make it easier for the franchisee and customer to have a wonderful experience.

Candy buffet table created by Powell's Sweet Shoppe in Long Beach, Calif.

Candy.com: Powell’s Sweet Shoppes are currently all on the West Coast. Any plans to expand domestically and/or internationally?

Print Cates: We are exploring all opportunities and during this process we are in a franchise holding pattern only opening the Berkeley store in the near future. All parties that are interested are put on a waiting list and then will be reviewed when we open sales again. The list is VERY long.

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My grandmother, like most, had a candy dish sitting in her “front room” (a.k.a. the least lived-in room). I don’t recall ever wanting any of the candies she put in her candy dish. Maybe it’s because they were dusty and not M&M’s, but I can’t remember, exactly.

Even so, I still have a thing for the old-fashioned candy dish. I’d love to have one today in my “family room” (a.k.a. the room with the couch my kids use as a launching pad) filled with Peanut Butter M&M’s, Nerds, or Crazy Core Skittles.

I know I’m not alone in this dish nostalgia. Former lawyer and Harvard grad, Maggie Wickes moved West and launched her Colorado-based Bluebird Candy Dish Co. this time last year out of concern for the extinction of the vintage candy dish. All of the dishes in Maggie’s collection are new and many of the vintage-inspired candy dish options incorporate classic glassware patterns.

My two favorites at Bluebird:

I also found some pretty terrific candy dishes at Etsy.com—all of which could double as heartfelt holiday gifts filled with vibrant holiday candies. (Click on each photo below for product info.)


Here’s an additional gem from 1StopRetroShop.com


Do you have fond memories of your grandmother’s candy dish?

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