Tuesday, February 01, 2011
There are some trends that I’ve noticed at the confectionery show. One of them is the lack of trends. There is very little trendiness, perhaps I noticed this because I’m from Los Angeles where we’re very trend conscious. But as far as I can tell, confectionery, at the moment, is all about doing what it does well. It’s not retreating, it’s not fighting back, it’s just putting itself out there: proud and sweet.
I feel like confectionery apologizes for itself a lot, at least in the United States At this show, there’s very little talk of 100 calorie treats or obesity crises. The only politic notes are conversations about Egypt and sometimes about Fair Trade and chocolate slavery issues.
Most of the confectioners and representatives I’m meeting are proud to talk about why their product is the best in its class, or at the very least, why they think it’s the best in their market.
I like that. It’s a simple sort of thing and sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Maybe it’s because I’m approaching these folks as a writer who wants to hear their story, instead of a buyer who wants to make a good deal.
If there’s disappointment from me about the show, it’s that there are a few very big confectionery companies that are not represented: Haribo, Ritter Sport, Mars/Wrigley, Nestle, Kraft and Lindt are the biggest ones. There are other large companies that also have huge booths (honestly, if my house and yard can fit in the space, I can’t call it a booth) with receptionist and appointment books who do not wish to talk to the likes of me. This is fine, I can continue my relationship with these brands like the rest of Candy Blog’s readers, as a buyer and consumer. To that end, since I’ve been in Europe I’ve visited dozens of stores, just so I could see what’s on shelves and buy what everyone else is buying. So don’t think that just because I went to Germany and the trade show didn’t have any Haribo that I didn’t pack up this extra suitcase with some stuff from the grocery store.
The last day of the show is about to begin, and I admit I’m more than a bit weary but also a bit energized because I still have some important meetings. (Really, I dread packing and leaving this lovely city.)
Monday, January 31, 2011
Day two consisted of much walking. I have a better sense of the layout of the show at this point and did pretty much walk through about 70% of the aisles on day 1, so day 2 was about diving deeper into those that caught my eye. For most of the day I was in the company of some other Americans who had some different goals. This was fun for me to watch, as they were experiencing some different products and confectionery styles for the first time. I was also smitten with quite a few things which I’ve picked up samples for.
Part of what I enjoyed was finding a brand that I was familiar with and seeing what else they make. In the United States, when something is imported and carried at a store I shop at, it’s usually been carefully curated for a reason. For example, I went to the booth of Amarelli, which makes “Liquirizia di Calabria”. You may have seen their tins before, they’re beautiful and charming (the same basic format as the Altoid tin).
They had some lovely tins, many products which we can’t get in the States. I’ve usually purchased their tiny nibs of licorice coated in a white candy shell with a light mint flavor to them. What interested me though were their other, more exotic, flavor combinations, such as orange and licorice and even violet and licorice. I got a sample of their vanilla rocks, which are large chunks of licorice coated in a vanilla shell that of course look like white pebbles (in the lower right of the photo).
You can follow along as I post some of my photos on Flickr.
Also, after the show I realized that there are some important German brands that are either not exhibiting at the show or not willing to talk to the blogging press, so I hopped on the U-bahn and hit the local stores (Aldi, Rewe & Penny Markt) to pick up some local Haribo, Katjes, Mars and Ritter Sport candies.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
After day one of ISM, the international Sweets and Biscuit Fair in Cologne I have no handy, condensed update.
I am officially overwhelmed, and if you know me and my ability to take in candy, you’ll understand how huge this thing is.
That building up there is filled with candy. There are 10 halls and 6 of them are taken with candy displays. I went through about two halls on the first day and it took me at least 90 minutes to just get my bearings. I don’t speak German, though I understand it pretty well for the basics and at least can read some of it. But I’m never prepared for the overwhelming crush of a big show like this.
I’m on the look out for trends, but it’s hard to spot because it is such an international fair and the companies and products are so specific. If there’s one trend I can spot it’s that every country makes it’s own version of the same thing. You like Chupa Chups? There are 20 other regional versions of them around the world made by other companies. Same goes for Mentos and of course things like Caramel Wafer Bars.
I’ll leave you with a photo, as I prepare for my second day:
Friday, January 28, 2011
It took me three tries to get into this little shop in Amsterdam called Puccini Bomboni. The first time I went to visit was Thursday and I arrived at 10 AM ... to find out that they’re open later in the evening at that location, so they also open later. So later that evening I decided to visit a different location that was closer to my hotel, only to find out that they don’t stay open late on Thursdays. Well, this time I read the hours on the door very carefully and returned on Friday morning at 9 AM and it was well worth the effort. (And I’d say that the several miles I walked just to get it was probably a good idea.)
I’ll have more about the chocolates later, but let me say that they are huge, delicious and I’m so disappointed I don’t have a shop like this near me.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
This is a little milk chocolate truffle from The Peninsula Chocolatier. My husband brought back a lovely box of fine chocolates from Hong Kong for me.
Monday, January 24, 2011
ISM Cologne is the world’s largest confectionery trade fair. For over forty years it’s featured the best in European candy and biscuits (cookies). About 1,500 companies from 70 different countries around the world come to display their wares to buyers, wholesalers and brokers.
I’ll be attending this year, with a full press pass to cover the show. The show lasts four days, starting Sunday, January 30th to Wednesday, February 2nd at the 4th largest convention hall in Europe, Kolnmesse. The exhibits cover more than one million square feet. (I’m bringing good walking shoes.)
I’m really excited to go to Germany, which has such a rich and varied tradition of candy. They have such a wide array of confectionery traditions, from their invention of the Gummi Bear, traditional devotion to dairy milk chocolate and marzipan and globally known brands such as Ritter Sport, Haribo and Kinder (part of Ferrero).
My journey will begin in Amsterdam, where I plan to spend three days checking out the local licorice and chocolate scene. Then I head to Cologne via ICE (high speed train) on Friday. I’m hoping to spend a day before the show starts visiting local German stores to see how and where candy is sold to get a sense of how confections fit into daily life in comparison to North America. Cologne is also home to the Chocolate Museum, so I plan to get a world-class education on chocolate.
Posting may be a little lighter here for the next ten days or so, but after I get home with my lovely samples and photos, I’ll have lots to share.
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
I get advance tastes of new candies, but I often post about them months before they hit the stores. Here’s a little review of reviews of new candies:
Snickers Peanut Butter Squared from Mars is a new introduction to the Snickers family of candy bars. It’s not a limited edition and is available in single serve size and fun size bags.
The regular package is two squares of candy. It features nougat, peanut butter and caramel covered in chocolate. It’s a bit less of a textural marvel than the standard Snickers. Folks who like a softer chew may prefer it, but it left me wanting a real Snickers bar.
I saw these first at the checkout at Target.
See full review for Snickers Peanut Butter Squared. (7 out of 10)
The new Hershey’s Drops come in two varieties: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Drops and Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme Drops. They’re large chocolate beans with no candy shell, easy to pop in your mouth or share. The milk chocolate variety isn’t different enough from a typical Hershey’s Kiss for me, even if there’s less unwrapping. But the Cookies ‘n’ Creme is interesting because there are so few candies that use the white confection like this. (Though there is a Kiss version, too.)
I saw these first at Von’s (photo) in stand up bags.
See full review of Hershey’s Drops (7 out of 10)
Like the Hershey’s Drops, the new Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Minis are here to making snacking easier. They little cups are easy to pop into your mouth and don’t require layers of wrapping like the foil-wrapped, fluted-cupped miniatures. They’re going to be great for baking.
See full review of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis (7 out of 10)
I teased these last summer and I’m doing it again. New PEEPS Chocolate Covered Raspberry Flavored Marshmallow Hearts in single-serve packages. This year, PEEPS Brand Marshmallow Candies are melting hearts with their new PEEPS Chocolate Covered Raspberry Flavored Marshmallow Hearts. Delicious milk or dark chocolate cover raspberry flavored PEEPS to create a scrumptious chocolate and marshmallow experience.
I tried the Peeps Peppermint Trees for Christmas and found them to be poorly made. I bought six of them and all were oozing, cracked and sticky inside. (Even the ones that weren’t cracked still had deflated centers.) I’m hoping the quality control for the Raspberry version will be better, because I think it’s a great idea.
I don’t think they need the colored marshmallow centers though, it just adds more ingredients that do nothing for the flavor (in fact, I’m prepared that the pink will taste bitter to me).
Finally, another tease. Mars is introducing a new Limited Edition Twix Coconut this spring. Look for it to hit shelves in April 2011.
Like the Coconut M&Ms, these have no coconut in them. Instead it’s a traditional Twix with a cookie base, caramel stripe and chocolate coating plus a light touch of coconut flavor.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
It’s hard to keep track of what’s new and what’s returning on store shelves for Christmas. I’ve found there aren’t that many new introductions, but there are plenty of tried-and-true favorites back again this year.
I think a lot of candy companies introduced limited editions as a sort of test marketing and found that bringing back fringe favorites on a regular schedule satisfies those who crave the special items but doesn’t detract from their regular product lines.
Here are a few candies that I’ve reviewed in the past and a few new ones I’ve spotted on shelves again this year. Just because something is not on this list doesn’t mean it’s not made this year, just that I haven’t been able to track it down.
• Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses (old review when they were made with real white chocolate)
• Peeps Chocolate Covered Peppermint Trees (Milk & Dark Chocolate)
• Paul Frank Nestle Crunch Bar (can be a greeting card - see above photos)
Mars & Wrigley’s
• Life Savers Tin - holds 7 rolls of three different varieties - comes in Butter Rum, Cherry or 5 Flavor package design
Farley’s & Sathers + Brach’s
• Brach’s Christmas Nougats (Peppermint & Wintergreen - no one has seen Cinnamon on shelves - review)
• Tootsie Roll Candy Cane Pop Drops (review)
• Ribbon Candy (I suspect this is just a repackage of Sevigny’s, as so few companies make this now)
• Swedish Fish (red & green) in bags or theater boxes
Other Items of Interest
• Giant Toblerone Bars
What are you looking forward to most? And what are you having trouble finding this year? What did I leave out?
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.