Our staff member with the biggest sweet tooth notes all the news and trends from the All-Candy Expo, held in September in Chicago (see also her November 2007 Toops Scoops column).
Overall trends and a few notable products include:
- Flavor fusions - Chewing gum is going fresh and fruity with flavors like Cadbury Adam's Trident Splash Summer Spearmint and Wrigley's Eclipse Fusion Peppermint Berry. Sweet and spicy are being combined in Lindt Creations 70% Cherry Chili or Chuao Chocolatier's Modena ChocoPod, a dark chocolate shell filled with strawberry caramel and a hint of balsamic vinegar or Spicy Maya, dark chocolate made with a hint of Pasilla chile, cayenne pepper and cinnamon to excite taste buds. Snacks are getting a savory surge too, including Boulder Canyon Spinach and Artichoke Potato Chips, TGI Friday's Cheese Quesadilla Chips (The Inventure Group) and Rice Works Sweet Chili Crisps (Snack Alliance). We also look forward next year to Twizzler's Pull-n-Peel Cinnamon Fire Candy (Hershey).
- International influences - Get a taste of the islands with Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cake (Tortuga Rum Cake Co.) or Sweet Maui Onion and Sonoran Salsa kettle chips from Poore Brothers. Also hot is single-origin chocolate with selections from Russell Stover's Private Reserve Origin Select from Equador, Belgium, Venezuela and Ghana. Also delicious are Dove Origin chocolates from Equador and Ghana (Mars Snackfood).
- Artisan Palate - Specialty sweets and sophisticated flavors such as Rena's Gourmet Truffle Pop Collection (key lime, dark brut chocolate and coconut), Nestle Treasures bite-size truffles with gourmet caramel, cappuccino or dark chocolate filling or Whitman's Urban Collection with gourmet flavors pear praline, sea salt soft caramel and pistachio nougatine. Organic chocolate from Seeds of Change is now available in Playa del Coco, 61% dark chocolate with coconut.
- Sweet benefits - Calorie-conscious, healthful and fortified confections include Welch's Fruit ‘N Yogurt Snacks (real fruit covered with yogurt containing active cultures), Ice Breakers Lift gum enhanced with antioxidants and green tea (Hershey's), Planters Nut-trition Heart-Healthy Mix (Kraft Foods), Met-RX Big 100 Colossal meal replacement bar (U.S. Nutrition) and Hall's ProHealth Defense, lozenges with antioxidants, which are perfect for airline travel (Cadbury Adams USA). Antioxidant-rich cacao percentages are rising in Scharffen Berger Milk Nibby with roasted cacao nibs to Guylian Twist 70% Extra Dark. Reece's Snacksters, only 100 calories and made with multigrain cereal and Hershey's 100-Calorie Pretzel Bar (chocolate covered pretzels) debuted. Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert says the biggest consumer gripe with 100-calorie packages is there is not enough product in them. Go figure!
- Simply sugar-free - Peeps sugar-free hearts for Valentine's Day (Just Born), sugarless Life Savers Fruit Tarts (Wm Wrigley Jr. Co.), Too Tarts Smart Choice, sugar-free, fat-free melted Ice Cream Sprays (Innovative Candy Concepts), Cadbury Adam's Stride Forever Fruit flavored gum in a tear and share package and Dentyne Blast, the first sugarless gum to contain a refreshing liquid center. Stride is also coming out soon in Sweet Cinnamon and Sweet Berry. Wrigley rolled out 5 gum in Rain (spearmint), Cobalt (peppermint) and Flare (cinnamon) along with Orbit White Melon Breeze, pellet gum which removes stains and whitens teeth. Sports Beans Jelly Beans with Caffeine added two new flavors - cherry and watermelon (Jelly Belly). With zero sugar, no herbal stimulants and the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, 5-Hour Energy drink debuted. It can provide hours of increased energy, focus and concentration without the traditional crash and jitters of canned energy drinks because it contains large amounts of B vitamins and amino acids (Living Essentials).
- Originally organic - Organic was a hot topic with examples including Montana Monster Munchies all natural cookies, Jelly Belly natural jelly beans, Yummy Earth organic lollipops, such as Pomegranate Pucker, containing Acerola and RJ's all natural black, raspberry and orange licorice (New Zealand Natural Foods). Two new flavors have been added to Green & Black's organic chocolate bars - Ginger and 60% Dark Cherry, made with whole sour cherries. Meanwhile, Terra Nostra's Organic Chocolate bars are made to offset 100% of the company's carbon emissions through the purchase of wind power credits. Pure Fun, based in Canada, has come out with a line of organic, Kosher Pareve, vegan candy with no additives or preservatives for kids with allergies.
- Reinventing classics - Brand extension makeovers include 3 Musketeers Mint Bar (Mars Snackfood U.S.), Reese's Whipps bar with 40 percent less fat (Hershey), Nestle Crunch Crisp Bar topped with airy crispies, Oreo Cakesters (Kraft Foods) and the launch of Werther's Original Caramel Chocolate Dark (Storck).
- The dark side - Demand for dark chocolate, with its antioxidant attributes, just keeps growing. New options include M&M‘s Dark Chocolate Peanut, Skittles Chocolate Mix and a limited edition Txix Java (Mars Snackfood U.S.), Ferrero's Roundnoir with “black pearl” center and dark chocolate creme filling, Cote d'Or Noir Orange with cacao beans from both West Africa and South America (Kraft Foods Global Inc.) Ghirardelli Mint Bliss and Evening Dream dark chocolate bars and Terri Lynn Dark Chocolate Cranberries.
- Child's play - Interactive fun for the kids includes Airheads Whistle Pops musical treat (Perfetti Van Melle USA), Hot Tamales Cinnamon Flavored Spray (Just Born), Cadbury Adam's Bubblicious Ink'd, the first liquid filled bubble gum that paints your tongue blue, Lunch Box Gummies shaped like Bacon & Eggs, Spaghetti & Meatballs and Submarine Sandwiches, or Lunch Meat Bubble Gum in Hot Dog or Bologna flavors (Ford Gum and Machine Co.) and Belly Bugs for future doctors, which come with plastic tweezers to pull pesky gummi bugs out from the candy patient's tummy (Kandy Castle Inc.). The surgeon can eat them. It was also fund to chew on Topps' Bazooka Bubble Juice, candy-coated nuggets that turn into flavored bubble gum.
On the snack front, Mars debuts Generation Max, a line of 10 healthy snack choices including cookies and pretzels, Procter & Gamble targets consumers searching for an extreme flavor experience with its Pringles Extreme Flavors - Extreme Blazin Buffalo, Extreme Kickin Cheddar and Screamin Dill (really tasty and different) and On the Border Mexican Grill rolls out a super Chicken Fajita Kit that's ready to serve in 15 minutes and microwavable Salsa Con Queso, made with real cheese.
For aging baby boomers, Pez Candy rolls out a line of headless retro dispensers featuring Elvis from the 1950s through the 1970s early next year. The Chocolate Traveler packages eight pie-shaped pieces of its Bittersweet Chocolate Wedges in a convenient tin for portion control - very neat. College kids are hitting the books with a side of Gud Fud (pronounced good food) marshmallows filled with either chocolate or fruit jelly. Wrench Mints (Peppermint or Cinnamon) are sure to appeal to men - they are packaged in a wrench-shaped tin with the slogan, ‘When your breath is broke … fix it.'
Also targeted to the boys is Jeff Foxworthy Jerky (Monogram Meat Snacks). And the perfect product for all kids at heart is from Jelly Belly. Its BeanBoozled collection of jelly beans in 20 flavors, 10 weird and wild matched up with 10 look-alike tasty flavors. Is the black jelly bean Licorice, or is it Skunk Spray? Flavor pairings include: Skunk Spray/Licorice; Rotten Egg/Buttered Popcorn; Ear Wax/Café' Latte; Booger/Juicy Pear; Baby Wipes/Coconut; Pencil Shavings/Top Banana; Toothpaste/Berry Blue; Vomit/Peach; Moldy Cheese/Caramel Corn and Black Pepper/Plum.
Go ahead, bamboozle your friends and co-workers, you kid, you.