Posts Tagged ‘NCA’

Sweets and Snacks Expo

 

Ready, set, go!

It’s off to opening day of the National Confectioners Association‘s annual Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago. This 3-day sugarlicious industry event is candy heaven. Rows and rows of candy manufacturers display their latest confections to hungry retail buyers from all over the world.

We’ve already got a “hot list” of new products we know we want to to see (and sample!) top o’ the morning, including …

Baby Blue and Pink Gummy Bears
Not sure what’s cooler. The colors or the flavors of these gummy bears. Albanese Confectionery Company‘s translucent Baby Blue Blueberry and Baby Pink Grapefruit Gummy Bears have huge potential for baby showers and weddings. I’m quite sure they’ll live up to expectations.

Sweethearts Marshmallows
Heart-shaped Marshmallow Sweethearts® are headed to love birds everywhere this Valentine’s Day. Just like classic Sweethearts® (Sweethearts is a registered trademark of New England Confectionery Company), the new fluffy, puffy marshmallow hearts will feature sweet nothings like “Hug me,” “Smile,” and “Be Mine.” Manufactured by the Spangler Candy Company, the hearts will come in sweet little 1.6-ounce pink boxes and an assortment of flavors (Strawberry, Grape, Green Apple, and Blue Raspberry). Think of the possibilities for dressing up cupcakes, cookies, cake pops, Rice Krispie Treats, S’mores, ice cream, hot cocoa … oh my!

Astro Pops
Two years after acquiring the retired Astro Pop brand from the Spangler Candy Company, Leaf Brands, LLC is bringing the classic Cherry, Passion Fruit, and Pineapple-flavored rocket pops back to life in two sizes: original 1 oz. for mass merchants, and 1.5 oz. for smaller retailers. To ensure that the 2012 Astro Pop was made exactly the way everyone remembered it—down to the wax and clear wrapper—Leaf Brands enlisted the help of its Facebook friends. Based on product photos, it looks spot on.

In other Leaf Brands news, the company now owns the rights to Bonkers and Wacky Wafers, so be on the lookout for those two classic comebacks in 2013.

 

Justin’s All-Natural Candy Bars
According to Justin’s press info, the company’s new All-natural Candy Bar line (including Milk Chocolate Peanut, Dark Chocolate Peanut, and Milk Chocolate Almond) contains “25% less sugar, 50% more protein, and 100% more fiber than the leading conventional candy bar, Snickers®.” Beyond that, Justin’s “uses only all-natural and organic ingredients, has no hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives or trans fats, and is also gluten free.”

Um, that’s a mouthful. How can you not be curious enough to give these a road test?

 

DOVE Cookies and Crème Bars and Promises
Coming September 2012: DOVE® Silky Smooth Cookies & Crème Bars and Promises from Mars Chocolate North America. It’s sweet and creamy white chocolate and crunch chocolate cookie bits under the DOVE umbrella. Enough said.

 

Wild Ophelia Candy Bars
Katrina Markoff, the brainchild behind Vosges Haut-Chocolat, has a new venture, Wild Ophelia: Taking an American Road Trip Through Chocolate. Her latest line of exotic dark and milk chocolate bars are smaller than traditional Vosges bars (2 oz. vs. 3 oz.), and less expensive ($4.50-ish vs. $7.50-ish).

Wild Ophelia exhibited at last year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo, but with only five bars. This year, the brand has blossomed into nine bars, including Peanut Butter & Banana, Salted Chowchilla Almond, Smokehouse BBQ Potato Chips, Sweet & Crispy Caramel Corn, Beef Jerky, Southern Hibiscus Peach, New Orleans Chili, Mount Sequoia Granola, and  Sweet Cherry Pecan. BBQ potato chips blended with dark chocolate sounds both disgusting and inviting. Must try!

 

Blue Raspberry and Wild Cherry Bonomo Turkish Taffy
The Warrell Corporation brought Bonomo Turkish Taffy out of retirement two years ago. This year, Warrell is expanding its nostalgic and incredibly chewy (the last time I sampled Bonomo Turkish Taffy, I lost a filling) taffy line with two new flavors: Blue Raspberry and Wild Cherry. Given the popularity of Cherry and Blue Raspberry Airheads, these flavors are a pretty safe bet.

 

Tic Tac Cinnamon Spice
Because I am one of the few humans on the planet who likes “Close-Up Cinnamon Red Gel Toothpaste,” I have a hunch, I’ll like Ferrero U.S.A.‘s new Cinnamon Spice Tic Tacs with “sweet, warm flavor.” They’ve got great color for the holidays and each tiny piece is less than 2 calories. Hello stocking stuffer.

If you’re on the Sweets & Snacks show floor today, let us know. We’d love to meet you!

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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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A wee bit tired tonight, but I wanted to share three under-the-radar products I found on the Sweets & Snacks Show floor today. Here goes:

Beef Jerky Milk Chocolate Bars
Wild Ophelia, Booth 600

I saw a rustic booth today with beautifully packaged chocolates, and it stopped me in my tracks. Turns out it’s Katrina Markoff’s (Vosges Haut-Chocolat) new venture, Wild Ophelia.

Katrina was at the booth and said she got the space at the 11th hour to present her new line of  Southern-style chocolate bars, which are smaller than traditional Vosges bars (1 oz. vs. 3 oz.), and more moderately priced. Katrina casually mentioned that she was thrilled about getting her first truck stop order at the show.

The Wild Ophelia line includes five bars, Beef Jerky, Southern Hibiscus Peach, Hickory Smoked Almond, New Orleans Chili, and Sweet Cherry Pecan. Sarah Solomon, co-owner of the new and swank Sweet Spot candy shop in Glen Ellen, Va., (love her!) and I compared notes this afternoon, and we both agreed that the Wild Ophelia Beef Jerky milk chocolate bar has a chance at giving the wildly popular Vosges Mo’s Bacon bar a run for its money.

Whistle Pops
Webb Candy, Booth 976
I saw the prototype for Webb Candy’s Whistle Pops about a year and a half ago at the ECRM event in Dallas, and they’re now officially available. The completely edible candy whistle looks like a thick Lifesaver, but tastes more like a SweeTart … heavy on the sweet. It’s not the same Whistle Pop from the olden days, but it gets the job done.

Whistle Pops come blister packed with some eye-catching graphics.

Dubble Bubble Big Bar
Concord Confections, Booth 2000

As soon as I laid eyes on Concord Confection’s new Dubble Bubble Big Bar, I thought of Bub’s Daddy Bubble gum from the olden days.

Concord’s 3.5-ounce Dubble Bubble Big Bar is about 10 inches long and scored to create single pull-off pieces.

Its shape and packaging is quite a bit more advanced than the tubular Bub’s Daddy bubble gum, but I have a hunch this bubbly newcomer will create the same amount of old-fashioned fun.

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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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