Candy and Snack Expo 2012 Recap: Adventures in Candy and Snackland

My apologies to any other food industry trade shows out there. Other than, perhaps, the Grocery Aisle Bonanzas 'R Us show, the Candy and Snack Expo is hands-down my favorite trade show of the year. Where else can you find my two favorite food types – snacks and candy? Judging by recent reports on consumer trends, I'm not the only one with a hankering for snacks see Survey Reveals Consumer Snacking Behaviors.
As I wandered down the aisles of Chicago's McCormick Place like a kid in a candy store, my senses were drawn to the sweet cinnamon and caramel flavors that seemed to waft from booth to booth. Sweets were everywhere at this year's show, and not just in the candy. Snacks normally filed under the salty or savory category where now showing up with infusions of sweet to offset the tastebuds. One of my favorite examples of this sensory explosion was the hickory smoked bacon and a milk chocolate drizzle concoction from Too Haute Cowgirls (www.toohautecowgirls.com). The treat, aptly named 'Have Bacon Will Travel' is the perfect combination of the trendy bacon flavor, salty popcorn and sweet mixed in.

Too Haute Cowgirls joined countless other exhibitors in showing off their popcorn inventions. The popped snack was a welcome addition to the snack portfolio.

Popcorn wasn't the only popped snack to take center stage. When sampling the wares back in the office, one couldn't help but notice many manufacturers were offering every variation on a potato chip that is humanly possible. From lentil chips to hummus chips, falafel chips to seaweed chips and everywhere in between, you didn't have to go far for a little healthy excitement in snackland.

The confectioners at the expo seemed to follow a similar sweet and salty hybrid in their new products. In fact some manufacturers, like Mars, began adding more salty goodness to their sweet snacks. Case in point, Pretzel M&Ms now include more pretzel while the popular Mars brand launched M&M’S Brand Snack Mix – a mix of roasted peanuts, oven-baked mini cookies, golden pretzel twists, and chocolate M&M candies. (You can learn more at http://presskit2011.com/mars/mms_snack.php).

While I continue to emerge from my candy and snack induced-coma, I'll leave you with a few manufacturers I couldn't resist passing along to check out.

CoFresh Hummus and Lentil Chips (http://www.cofresh.com.uk)
Mediterranean Snacks (http://www.mediterraneansnackfoods.com)
Laural Hill Foods (http://www.laurelhillfoods.com)
Sara Snacker Cookie Company (http://www.sarasnacker.com)
Flamous Brands Falafel Chips (http://www.flamousbrands.com)

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