All Candy Expo
Friday, May 22, 2009
Some of the best candies are not from the big candy makers, they come from innovative new companies and of course the wonderful regional & specialty confectioners. Here are a few items coming down the pike from them:
Description: Roasted premium sunflower seeds drenched in cocoa and covered in dazzling delicate sugar shells.
Notes: There are already plenty of companies making candy coated-chocolate sunflower seeds. But I suppose ubiquity would help. Sconza makes some very nice panned candies, so I’ll definitely try them. But the “cocoa” part is a bit disappointing. I think to guarantee real chocolate I might stick with the Kimmie All Natural ones (and no artificial colors).
Name: Cherry Lovers Fruit Chews
Brand: Gimbal’s Fine Candies
Description: Made with REAL Cherry Juice and are naturally high in Antioxidant Vitamin C. Featuring nine incredible juicy cherry flavors - from orchard fresh Bing Cherry, to New York Cherry Cheesecake and luscious Cherry Chocolate, these candies can’t be beat!
Notes: I know, it’s odd that I’m posting about a cherry product but I’m actually excited about this. I got a sample bag from the folks at the National Confectioners Association and they look great. They look like the See’s Cinnamon Hearts I had earlier this year but come in a variety of flavors & colors. A beautiful assortment for a jar or dish especially for Valentine’s Day.
Name: Quench Fruit Blast
Brand: Quench Gum
Description: Quench Gum “Sugar Free” Fruit Blast - Same great taste and now sugar free!
Notes: I liked that the gum doesn’t have aspartame in it (though I don’t know what they’re using for sweeteners if not aspartame or sugar). It’s nice to see the sports, mouth quenching gums making a comeback.
Name: Zachary Assorted Chocolates
Brand: Zachary Confections
Description: Our Assorted Box Chocolates have a brand new look! Milk and Dark Chocolate covered cremes and caramels.
Notes: My experience with Zachary is limited to their jelly & fondant products, mostly for Halloween (candy corn & jelly pumpkins). I’ve regarded them as a low end brand, which is fine for sugar candy, so I don’t know which way these boxed chocolates are going to go.
Name: Indulge Cherry Creme Cluster
Brand: Brach’s (Farley’s & Sathers)
Description: We are also offering the Brach’s(r) Indulge(r) Cherry Cr?me Clusters in a gable box for the consumer looking for a great new item for their cherry-loving friends!
Notes: Brach’s actually has a whole new line of these Indulge products. Some are just classic Brach’s products like Bridge Mix and chocolate covered nuts. But this one sounded pretty interesting - cherry fondant with nuts covered in chocolate. (Not something I’d eat.) I have samples of other items in the Indulge line and will post a full review soon.
Description: Yum, yum, yum, give me some Zum(r)! New liquid center Zum(r) chewing gum keeps your taste buds guessing all the way to the wacky sour apple-cherry core. Chomp into some Zum(r) for a flavorful, sweet-sour blast!
Notes: I have a sample of this (no photo yet). They’re sold in a blister pack and appear to be mega-looking Freshen-Up styled pieces. What I liked on the wrapper was that it was made with real sugar, not artificial sweeteners.
Name: MelloWorld Marshmallow Novelties
Brand: MNT Trading Inc.
Description: Melloworld marshmallows is classified as novelty due to its presentation and combinations i.e. some are filled with flavored jam, others are sandwiched between a fruit flavored gummy belt, others are twisted to resemble a rope, some are filled into a mini ice cream cone filled with fruit flavored jam and others are shaped in various shapes like bear, duck, rabbit & flower shapes etc.
Notes: I thought the packaging from this company was really cute. As far as marshmallows go, there aren’t many choices on shelves beyond the regular white ones which are more of an ingredient than a candy. (I am rather fond of strawberry marshmallows.)
Name: Get Silly Ice Cream Candies
Brand: Get Silly Ice Cream
Description: The amazing, new, innovative unmeltable ice cream treat. Get Silly Ice Cream Candy is made from 100% real ice cream, tastes like 100% real ice cream, IS 100% real ice cream. You can have an ice cream experience throughout the day without ever having to worry about it melting. One bite of Get Silly Ice Cream Candies and you will experience the creamy, velvety taste of traditional ice cream whenever you want, wherever you are. Following our wildly successful launch of America’s #1 pelletized ice cream IttiBitz, Get Silly Ice Cream is releasing a brand new candy version.
Notes: I’ve never tried Dippin’ Dots so I think I’m missing something here about there being any rankings for the category of pelletized ice cream. (Which sounds like a way to weaponize dairy products to me.) I’m not sure if it’s actually candy or not ... the rules aren’t quite clear and the way the product is served isn’t either.
Name: Fun Sweets Cotton Candy
Brand: Fun Sweets
Description: Fun Sweets offers an Award Winning line of cotton candy in shelf-stable transparent containers. We are proud to supply the country’s leading retailers and entertainment venues and would like the opportunity to be your cotton candy choice as well.
Notes: I don’t think anything will ever rival real fresh cotton candy made in front of you. A fun, well designed little bucket might be nice, especially for kids, who haven’t learned the difference. (And I have tried this so I can’t say that it is an actual wad of cotton candy instead of a fluffy ethereal cloud.)
All images courtesy of the respective manufacturers
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Mars has recently become one of the kings of limited editions. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not innovating new candies, too. On Tuesday at All Candy Expo they held a press conference and announced their slate of new products and releases.
Name: M&Ms Premiums Chocolate Candies
Notes: I mentioned these yesterday and already have a sample in hand of the Triple Chocolate variety. However, I’ve not tried nor seen the Dark Chocolate version before. I’m wondering if they’ll be like Dark Chocolate M&Ms or more like Dove dark chocolate. The retail price will be $1.29 for a 1.2 ounce box. The press release says they’ll be on shelves this spring. Anyone spotted them in the wild?
Name: Snickers Transformers
Notes: This is pretty much the same as the Shrek Snickers which had a green nougat. I didn’t care for how I though the food coloring changed the flavor of the bar. On another note, Nougatbot is a trademarked name for Mars.
Name: Limited Edition Snickers Fudge
Retail customers who join the fudge craze will be a part of a $215 million growing fudge market (according to 2007 Mars Sensory RGT Research). Consumers are sure to love the combination of their favorite SNICKERS(r) brand and the nostalgic taste of rich fudge.
Notes: They should be hitting the shelves in August. I have a sample (though it’s kind of smashed) and will post a review closer to the release date.
UPDATE: Review of Snickers Fudge bar is here.
Name: Limited Edition Coconut M&Ms
Notes: On the list of M&Ms flavor variations they should come out with, this wasn’t even on my radar. Not that I’m not happy to hear it. I have a sample and will post about them soon. Early thoughts are that they’re not bad, but I think they might have been better in dark chocolate. They should be hitting the shelves in August.
UPDATE: Review of Coconut M&Ms is here.
Other new products announced I’ve covered previously. They include: Dove Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter, Fling Chocolate Fingers, M&Ms Strawberried Peanut Butter Chocolate Candies, M&Ms Disney Memorable Moments.
Then there’s the Real Chocolate Relief Act ... I haven’t blogged about it and I probably won’t do anything beyond this mention of it. Basically, you can go to their website on Fridays until 9/25/09. They’re giving away a quarter of a million coupons for a free candy bar each week. It seems like a lot of work for 75 cents that you don’t get it for 6 weeks. I can’t decide what they can or will do with your info besides get an awesome cross section of the American population and who will fill out a form for less than a dollar. If that’s not a demonstration of America’s capability to delay gratification, I don’t know what is. (Kind of makes you think we’re gonna be okay.)
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The biggest, most exciting bit of news to come from Hershey’s this year as far as new products has to be their new Pieces line:
Like Reese’s Pieces are a lentil shaped & candy shelled version of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, I’m sure that Pieces will merely be “inspired by” the flavors of these popular candy bars. I loved the little Hershey’s Bites that were discontinued, and realize now that these will not be a real replacement for those.
What they do look like though are:
Hershey’s Special Dark Pieces - a dark chocolate lentil. The packaging looks like they’ll be dark red, maroon and brown shells. (Hershey’s Special Dark Pieces review here.)
York Pieces - a dark chocolate center flavored with peppermint (not a fondant center with a dark chocolate veneer). These look like they’re dark blue and white shelled. (Hershey’s York Pieces review here.)
Almond Joy Pieces - milk chocolate, coconut and almond. The shells here look like blue, beige and brown. I’m not sure if it’s actual bits of coconut and almond or just the flavors. (Almond Joy Pieces review here.)
Other items rolling out now:
Hershey’s Bliss Chocolate Bars - New Hershey’s Bliss chocolate bars feature a smooth, creamy texture for an indulgent personal chocolate experience in Dark Chocolate and Milk Chocolate with a Meltaway Center.
My thoughts: as I mentioned in the post about packaging, these are looking an awful lot like Dove.
My thoughts: I got a few of these in a box from the folks at the National Confectioner’s Association and now have a whole package for review that came with this press release. I’m having trouble telling them apart from the Hot Cocoa and Chocolate Truffle Kisses, but I’ll work on it.
My thoughts: it’s a fun idea! Combine a bit of dark and milk chocolate. (Sometimes I mix dark & milk M&Ms.)
Hershey’s 100 Calorie Whipped Vanilla Bars - Hershey’s extends its portion control offerings with the introduction of the Hershey’s 100 Calorie Whipped Vanilla Bars. Combining the decedent flavors of vanilla and chocolate, the new bars offer a balanced indulgence in one convenient pack.
My thoughts: I’ve pretty much stayed away from the 100 calorie bars for review, but I have to say that they’ve done some nice work at providing some tasty options that aren’t just smaller sized regular candies - they’re new from the ground up.
Later this fall you can also sample:
Hershey’s Bliss White Chocolate with Creamy Meltaway Center - Hershey’s Bliss will introduce a white chocolate expression to this decedent chocolate line with the launch of Hershey’s Bliss White Chocolate with Creamy Meltaway Center. The new individually wrapped, bite-size chocolates will be available in laydown bags.
My thoughts: If it’s really white chocolate, I’m going to be really interested. Hershey’s used to make good white chocolate products and I’ve love to see them return to it. (The old Cookies ‘n Cream bar used to use cocoa butter.)
Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Chocolate Miniatures - Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Chocolate Miniatures offer a delicious flavor assortment with three unique miniature chocolate varieties in one laydown bag, including Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme, Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Milk Chocolate and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate.
My thoughts: as mentioned above, the Cookies ‘n Creme used to have cocoa butter in it, but since they took it out, I haven’t been terribly interested in it. I do enjoy the cookies and milk chocolate but love, love, loved the Cookies ‘n Mint and would think it’s a natural item to include in this mix.
Half the time the stuff being announced in as new products aren’t really new. They’re just repackaging. Not that I have anything against that. I love a clever and useful boxes and tins and of course an engaging and colorful wrappers.
First thing that I noticed a few years ago is nostalgic packaging. The first one I heard about was a retro version of 3 Musketeers, Snickers & M&Ms sold at WalMart stores. Then I started seeing Hershey’s special packaging.
This year Just Born is into the act with nostalgic boxes for their most popular products: Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales and Goldenberg Peanut Chews.
Is the candy different? Did they go back to the original recipe or something? No, pretty much the same.
But I have to say, the Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews (review) taste a lot better than Chew-Ets. Maybe it’s that these were extra fresh ... or that it’s the first King-Size package I’ve had since I moved to California. (Though they were a sample from All Candy Expo folks, all the other above items pictured were from my personal stash.)
First, Mars is going to be making their M&Ms Premiums (review) available in single-serve boxes. Pretty hot looking. I like the flip top, I like that the box was jam packed with the little triple chocolate premiums.
I don’t have much info otherwise though ... I’m hoping they won’t be much more than the price of King Size M&Ms. (They are 1.2 ounces, not as much as a regular bag.)
Hershey’s is also creating a bar format of their new Bliss line (review).
I got this sample of the new Hershey’s Bliss Rich & Creamy Dark Chocolate Bar, it’s about the equivalent of five little Bliss bites.
Look familiar? Yeah, not that different from the format of the Dove chocolate line. Kind of sad how much they look alike.
Even though it feels like stuff is getting smaller and more expensive, I did find one bright spot in the news (in addition to the awesome new products, of course).
Instead of the classic tray the LifeSaver Gummis (review) now come in a 2 ounce single serve pack (“With 33% More Gummies”). I saw these at them on shelves at the 7-11 already.
The thing that I learned that was so surprising is that LifeSavers Gummis are the number one selling gummi in the United States. Not Haribo (who have been doing it far longer) or even previous domestic brands like Trolli or Black Forest. Nope, LifeSavers.
The final news nugget is the renaming of Crackheads to Jitterbeans (well, that’s not entirely true, you can get them with either name). I reviewed them last year and Candy Addict’s Brian even appeared on TV to talk about the branding of the product (advocating a name change ... and this is a pretty good choice).
The package is kind of intimidating. The same size as a regular Lemonheads box ... but this one advertises that it has as much caffeine as 6 cups of coffee. I haven’t counted up the beans, but I’m pretty sure that four would be my limit and never to be eaten after noon if I wanted to sleep.
There are probably lots of other associations we’re all going to be making when we see the stuff on the shelves. (Especially when the old & new styles are sitting side by side.)
What have you noticed so far?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Today is the start of All Candy Expo, the national exhibition of candy & snacks sponsored by the National Confectioners Association. Over three days over 450 exhibitors will sample their wares on the show floor while tens of thousands of candy store owners, chain store buyers, wholesalers & distributors will will walk the aisles. It’s an awesome and intimidating place to be, it makes me a bit giddy and also overwhelmed (there’s so much!). Once again my dayjob prevents me from attending so I’ll sit here and remotely broadcast items of interest.
Here are some new product announcements:
Name: Wee Glee
Name: Sour Patch Chillerz
Name: Black Forest Juicy Oozers
Name: Goetze Gourmet Caramel Creams Licorice
Name: Sour Punch Bits
Name: Caramel Apple Pops
Name: Werther’s Original Creamy Caramel Filled
Name: Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Chocolate
All photos courtesy of the manufacturers unless otherwise watermarked
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Here are the last few stories that have trickled in about All Candy Expo. I expect that after everyone has gotten a little sleep over the holiday weekend there may be some more wrap ups.
The AV Club at The Onion shows us how it’s done with their roundup up of All Candy Expo and note a few moments of poor treatment by booth-cops. (Enter the Octopus has a post about that, too.)
Chicagoist has a list of Five Items from All Candy Expo That Should Not Be Allowed to Exist. I have to admit, I have never reviewed any of the items on that list.
The Candy Podcast kids (and parents) also went to All Candy Expo and have an incredible set of photos available on Flickr.
Interesting news from the trade publications, this one about convenience stores from Convenience Store Petroleum magazine. The thing that caught my eye was this little factoid about how we approach the candy aisle: Shoppers shop first by segment (gum, chocolate, etc.), then by usage, then package type and finally by brand.
This makes perfect sense. I usually have something in mind like “I want something tangy!” and then go from there. I’m not sure what they mean by package type, I’m guessing size. (Though most convenience stores don’t have much choice in size of packages like grocery stores do.)
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Here are a few items I sampled, I’m probably not going to do a full review of them but I wanted to show them to you:
The newest addition to the ChocoPod line. I got this one in a simple little cellophane bag, so I didn’t think it was fair to give it the full tilt boogie review without final packaging.
It’s similar to the classic Spicy Maya ChocoPods, just a little cacao pod shaped disk of 60% dark chocolate, weighing in, I guess, at a little over a third of an ounce, it’s about two bites.
The inclusions make it a little bumpy in spots. The chocolate smells more like chili, but a little sweet and smoky. There are a lot of pop rocks in there, they’re completely unflavored, just lightly sweet little sugar bits ... that just so happen to pop. Some of the little bits, however, are salt crunches.
Some bites are pretty poppy, some bites are really hot, others are salty. It’s a noisy bit of chocolate (and even got a few sneezes out of me).
It’s a fun little diversion. I appreciate that it’s a small piece, not a huge bar, but I don’t think I’d want more.
Rating: 7 out of 10
First, you’ll probably note that I don’t mention PEZ much on Candy Blog. I don’t like it. The candy just isn’t very good and the idea of collecting the little dispensers never thrilled me. But I fully applaud those who get into it.
PEZ has brought out a few other flavors of their candy tablets. Last year it was Cola and they have a Sugar Free version as well. This year they’re highlighting the Chocolate version.
As you can tell from the photo, they’re very light in color, which should give you an indication of the depth of the flavor. It tastes like I’ve inhaled some Cocoa Pebbles. Not actually eat then, just, you know, been near the Cocoa Pebbles dust. They’re sweet but have just a slight cocoa note.
Rating: 3 out of 10
It’s an organic twist on classic tastes.
So just looking at it, with only the name to go off of, I thought, “this is a white chocolate bar with dried raspberry bits in it.” Which sounded pretty good in my head, kind of like the Hershey’s Limited Edition one a couple of years back ... but organic!
Hmm, somewhere I led myself astray. It’s not white chocolate, it’s a non-colored confection made of organic sugar, organic whole milk powder and organic fractionated palm kernel oil. And it’s crunchy. Those presumed raspberry bits are actually crushed raspberry flavored hard candy.
It took me a while to get used to the texture, but it wasn’t creamy enough for me.
Rating: 5 out of 10
These little milk chocolate covered nuggets smell sweet and like a light coffee drink. They’re about the size of a garbanzo bean, though some are twinned (not that it keeps me from eating them). The nugget inside isn’t quite as hard and crunchy as a biscotti, but they’re plenty crunchy. They’re almost like graham cracker nuggets.
The combo is quite nice, easy to eat and keep munching.
Rating: 8 out of 10
It’s not an illusion in the photo, these are very dark, like clumps of tar. The chocolate covered dried cranberries are not as flavorful as I’d hoped. Honestly, I’ve tried a few products over the years and none of them have really satisfied me. The cranberries, while soft and chewy, they’re just not tangy or flavorful. The chocolate is sweet, but not dark and flavorful enough ... though the texture combo of the creamy melt and moist chew is good.
They’re probably jam packed with antioxidants, but I’ll probably stick with chocolate covered raisins, if only because they’re cheaper and provide pretty much the same experience.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Thursday, May 22, 2008
As the All Candy Expo for 2008 comes to a close, writers from all over are heading home and this little trickle of stories is just the start of what will be a summer of fun coverage of new products & trends:
Jamie at Candy Addict has great observations on the new trends with dark chocolate, combining chocolate & fruit and chocolate & nuts.
Liz didn’t stay for the whole time, but has a pretty snazzy haul to show off (and a photo of Jacques Torres).
Faith at The Kitchen (Apartment Therapy) has a wonderful condensed version of Jacques Torres’ session on how to taste chocolate.
Caitlin at Candy Addict also wraps things up with a few closing notes ... and confirms that her haul was 45 pounds of candy. (What a bad year to have luggage surcharges.)
Brandweek discusses Mars push into more customizable candy. M&Ms can be printed with sayings, logos and now even your face. Dove bites can be wrapped in your own customized sayings. Someday maybe they’ll let me special order Marathon bars.
The Los Angeles Examiner actually has a caffeine columnist who gave the new Tootsie Roll Maxxed Pops a try.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.