All Candy Expo
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Dave Simmer’s excited about the new Star Trek Pez (and the chocolate candy tablets ... we’re going to have to disagree there).
Chicago Sun Times has an excellent set of tasting notes (I have to disagree with a couple of items) including Crackheads, Crown Tequila Nuggets, the new M&Ms Premiums, Giant Chewy Wonka Nerds and more. Don’t miss the photo gallery and the separate story about customizable M&Ms that you can put your own face on! (photo by Keith Hale/Sun-Times)
Medill Reports adds a few comments on trends, and further info & a glimpse of the new M&Ms Premiums packaging.
Fellow candy writer Elizabeth LaBau who edits the candy section for About.com has some stellar coverage so far. Here’s her rundown from the first day but don’t miss her great photos, especially of Joseph Schmidt’s chocolate creations.
A big tip of the hat to Candy Addict and their notes from the floor:
And finally, just for fun, relive Cameron Gray’s Tuesday with photos as they were posted from the floor.
Name: Altoids Cr?me de Menthe
Name: LifeSavers Gummies Tangy Fruits
Name: Loud Truck Energy Gummi
Name: Gummi Butterflies
(images courtesy of the manufacturers’ press kits)
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Name: Ice Cream Parlor Mix
Name: Holiday Sugar Babies
Name: Brach’s Theater Boxes
Name: Sunkist Fruit and Sour Fruit Gummies
(images courtesy of the respective manufacturers)
Name: Firecracker ChocoPod & Firecracker Chocolate Bar
Name: Sea Salt Almonds, Sea Salt Cashews & Fruit and Nut Mix
Name: Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter Filling
Monday, May 19, 2008
As I mentioned before, the National Confectioners Association, which runs the All Candy Expo, sent me a box of goodies so I wouldn’t feel left out by not attending.
The package says that it’s 20 lbs (last year I brought home 60 lbs ... but I think I ended up giving away about 20). It’s a fabulous assortment.
While there are a few things that I’d never pick up for myself, things like jerky, chips, and many packages of gum, those quickly found homes. But there were also plenty of samples, full sized things, that I might not have been able to score by myself on the floor. Some other items I’ve already found in stores and reviewed here (Wonka Giant Chewy Nerds, Starburst Gummi Bursts, Figamajigs, Craves, and a few others).
Here’s a small sampling of the items I’ll be able to talk about this week:
The bold ones are those that I’m planning reviews of (but ya never know). There are dozens of other items that were in the box, of course, but not things that are likely to be included on Candy Blog.
The photos shown here are from a reader, Michael J. Hartman, who is working behind the scenes. These were taken on Saturday as everything was being loaded into the McCormick center for the show. Some of the very elaborate booths require cranes to assemble and of course days.
You can check in here as I upload my photos on Flickr.
Name: Emergency Chocolate
Name: M&Ms Premiums
Name: Baskin-Robbins Soft Candy
(images courtesy of the manufacturers’ press kits)
Sunday, May 18, 2008
First, I’m not going to the All Candy Expo in Chicago this year. The dates (May 20-22) are simply unworkable for me this time around. I’m not terribly upset about it, the last show was just in September and I still have a few items left from that to review! Next year’s show will revert to the original June dates, and I’ll be back in ‘09.
Through the wonderful assistance of the folks at the National Confectioners Association though, I will be able to bring copious amounts of coverage including reviews that week! (Instead of readers waiting until I return home - so maybe things will be even better from a reader’s perspective.) But if you also want some first-hand coverage, Candy Addict will be on the floor and I’ll do my best to point to other coverage as the week goes by.
Changes this year at the convention include some new policies. Children are no longer allowed at the show at all and the Candy Time Room, which was that fabled space where you could fill a single bag with whatever you wanted from dozens of bins of candy ... that’s gone. (I scored a couple dozen snack sized Ritter Sport bars last year, they were so good.)
The show used to be on a Monday-Wednesday schedule, this year they’re going Tuesday-Thursday. The exhibitors are already on the floor at the McCormick center this weekend, setting up their booths. Some are quite elaborate, while other smaller companies opt for the old table & curtain display. The smallest booths are 10 feet square. The largest ones occupied by “Big Candy” like Hershey’s, Mars, Jelly Belly, Wrigley, Ferrara Pan & Nestle are more than 50 feet square, which is bigger than most candy stores (and my house). As an attendee, all I ever care about is the ability to view their product line, sample items, perhaps take a sample home and of course talk to someone. The larger booths not only feature the candy but show off how global they may be (Hershey’s was sampling some of their Asian versions last year) as well as the advertising campaigns & marketing tie-ins. While I may not care about some NASCAR merchandising deal, there are plenty of stores that will.
The show is continuing to diversify to include more snacks (popcorn, chips, jerky, etc.) and gourmet confections. One of the cornerstone events will be the sessions under banner name “Taste of Gourmet” featuring Frederic Loraschi (Michel Cluizel) and Michael Antonorsi (Chuao). This year also shows the continuation of the “Gourmet Marketplace” are of the show floor where companies like Stephany’s Chocolates, Fannie May, Wolfgang, Bloomsberry & Co and other upscale (but not quite artisan) makers will be grouped together. I’ll have some reviews of their items to at least tip my hat towards the gourmet corner this year.
The show has a wide number of attendees. Most are buyers for large companies like Wal-Mart, Trader Joe’s, Rite Aid, grocery chains and other general merchandisers. Others are candy brokers & wholesalers, who are the middlemen for the smaller candy retailers. Most candy stores can’t afford the minimum purchases from the large factories, so they come to the show to see what’s new & how they’ll be marketed in the coming year, then they place their orders through the wholesale companies. Other people on the floor are publicists who work with different confectionery companies, writers from the industry or from consumer oriented publications (like bloggers) and finally, other candy companies.
I plan to give candy teases all week long as well, just announcements of new products that have caught my interest, keep an eye on the little sidebar to the left where it says “All Candy Expo” coverage. (Or sign up for my RSS feed and you won’t miss a thing.)
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Each day a the All Candy Expo I balanced my sense of discretion with each candy booth’s generosity.
I think the candy companies won.
Each attendee was given a small bag to put their samples in on the floor. The same bag was used each day and it was about the size of a shoe box for some nice women’s dress shoes. Basically, not too big.
Many booths had “eat it here” samples, little cups or sections of their products for sampling. I generally didn’t eat much while on the floor of the show, so I didn’t go for those often. (I couldn’t bring them home, they didn’t have the ingredients and nutrition info on them.)
I was pretty picky about what I picked up, but often when I’d get into conversations with the candy purveyors, they’d offer me full sized samples. A 6 ounce bag of some new gummi spiders, a stack of six 3.5 ounce chocolate bars, a 5 ounce bag of delicious dark chocolate coated toffee almonds or a half a dozen full-sized Ritter Sport bars. It adds up. So somewhere around the middle of the morning my bag would be full and probably weigh about five pounds. I had a benefit over most attendees, somewhere to stash the contents of my bag. I’d go to the press room and empty it out and leave it with my other stuff (my jacket, etc.) and go back out onto the floor.
At the end of the day I’d be hoofing it back to the hotel with 15 or so pounds of candy along with a sampling of press kits which are also heavy in their own right.
So with a little math you can tell where this is going. At the end of the show I had at least 45 pounds of candy, probably closer to 55 pounds (if you include the press kits, which as I said in my defense, are heavy).
I planned well, or at least I thought. I brought one large suitcase to Chicago. I packed my 8 days worth of clothes (I was heading to visit family in the Midwest when I was done) and another smaller, collapsible suitcase in the bottom. I had my laptop messenger bag and a purse. Once back at the hotel I tried to pack all my stuff. It all technically fit, but I was concerned that the large bag was going to be over the weight limit. If figured if I could carry the large suitcase down the three flights of stairs to the lobby, it couldn’t be that heavy. Certainly not over 50 pounds.
I got to the airport dragging things behind me (may I thank the fellow who invented the wheel at this moment?) I found that I was correct ... my luggage weight 101.5 pounds. However, the large bag was 61 pounds and the little one was over 39. (The good news, apparently, is that I can carry 61 pounds down three flights of stairs!)
Luckily the nice agent at American Airlines said I could take a moment and transfer some things around instead of charging me for being overweight (that’d be $50). She even helped me by pointing out the items she thought were heaviest. I stuffed some of the heavier things into my carry on and in the end each of my bags was balanced at 47 pounds each. (Yes, I was now toting an additional seven pounds in my carry ons.) I thanked the ticket agent for her patience and help and gave her a full-sized Hershey’s Cacao Reserve nibby bar. This was when she told me that she only worked part time for American Airlines. Her day job was as a dental hygienist. She said she would have given me a toothbrush if she had one on her!
At my brother’s (where the guest room is sadly on the third floor, but happily he carries my bags up for me) I took all my candy out and organized it and repacked it, using a bathroom scale to make sure that each bag was 45 pounds. I left plenty of chocolate and candy there, too. I gave my mother three full sized dark bars plus a box of Russell Stover Private Reserve chocolates that I just wasn’t going to get to review anytime soon (but I’ll go buy at some point). I left only a few things at my brothers ... sadly I didn’t find his new perfect candy bar for him at the Expo. He was a Snickers Cruncher fan. I’ll have to keep working on it.
It took about three days after I got home for the sore shoulders to go away (carry forty pounds on them regularly takes a while to get over). It’s been 10 days since the Expo ended and I can now say that my feet don’t hurt any longer. Maybe next year I won’t walk that mile to and from the convention center and just splurge on a cab.
In case you’re wondering, this is what 50 pounds of candy looks like, all dumped out on my dining room table (which is 50 inches around, by the way).
In case you’re wondering the result of this trip on my weight ... I’ve lost four pounds. Don’t worry, I have a notion of where to find them.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.