Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Ah, day one of the All Candy Expo is done. I came back to my hotel room and dumped out my three mini-shopping bags (think small shoe boxes) onto the bed to rebuild my day. I spent most of the day on the show floor with Sera, from Candy Addict (so be sure to check out her thoughts!).
The addition of snacks to the mix of candy products this year means that there’s a savory respite while walking around. Some nuts, lots of pretzels, chips, popcorn products and of course jerkies.
Ferrara Pan has gone chewy ... it makes me think they’ve been reading Candy Blog or something. It’s always been my wish that there were chewy Lemonheads (kind of like super sour bursting jelly beans). Imagine my delight to find Chewy Lemonheads and Chewy Atomic Fireballs. The Fireballs are the small sized ones and like an incredibly intense cinnamon crossed with a soft jelly bean. (Update: here’s the review.)
Reese’s Whipps ... I can go on and on about how I feel when marketing folks spell things oddly, but I won’t. The initial description made me think of a peanut butter 3 Musketeers, but there’s a bit more going for it here. The center is a nougat-style with a light peanut butter taste and a nice hit of salt. That is then covered in a thin layer of a crumbly peanut butter fudgy thing and then the whole thing is enrobed in mockolate. I’ll have a full review of that in a week or two.
The fun new product that we saw was a Green Tea Hershey’s Kisses that they’re selling in China. Yeah, why they’re teasing the American candy wholesalers and retailers with a product that’s not available here, I don’t know. It’s a milk chocolate shell with a green cream center with a distinct matcha taste. I actually liked it quite a bit, but it isn’t something that I’d be particularly eager to consume in large quantities.
The other product they were showing that’s coming out in the American market is a Hot Cocoa Hershey’s Kiss. How it’s different than the Chocolate Truffle was not something that the young woman at the Hershey’s booth was able to answer (as is often my struggle as a blogger visiting a major candy maker’s booth). I found it rather ordinary ... just a Hershey’s Kiss with a slightly saltier, creamier center.
Andes Mints are coming out with new Dessert Indulgence candies. They come in Lemon Meringue, Raspberry Cream and Key Lime. They’re a white confection base, which I know is probably terrible for me, but I have a special fondness for it.
Ghirardelli had an afternoon dessert event at their booth that Sera and I caught the end of. They were featuring three little brownie/cupcake bites based on their new line of filled chocolate bars. I loved the brownie bites, but only tried one of their bars so far. It was a Dark Chocolate with Raspberry Filling. The caramelly filling tasted completely authentic to raspberry. The tangy and sweet bite set off the chocolate very well. The other bars in the line are Milk Chocolate with Caramel Filling, Dark Chocolate with White Mint Filling, Dark Chocolate with Caramel Filling.
I spent a few minutes at the Chuao booth as well, even though I’ve already tried their ChocoPods, I hadn’t tried all of their bars. The Chinita Nibs is my favorite, the nibs are crunchy and rich and have a hint of caramel to them and the dark chocolate is spiced with nutmeg. The Earl Grey bar is a milk chocolate base and is wonderfully floral and rich, a little sticky and sweet. The new standout are the Caracas bar, which blend El Rey chocolate from Venezuela with perfectly roasted Hazelnuts and Pistachios. It comes in milk chocolate (41%) and dark chocolate (60%).
Flix Candy was showing some new gummy products called Gummy Bands. Four little gummi bracelets in four flavors, four colors and four sayings. They look my juicier than the version I got from the Oriental Trading Company earlier this year, though the sayings are a little, I dunno, out of step with what I’d expect: Trouble, Team, Wazz Up and Crazy.
One of the standout European chocolate imports is a German premium brand called Rauch Plantagen Schocolade. All single origin, they have a few different styles of packaging, from standard bars to long sticks to little chunks that are packaged in a “treasure chest.” I know it sounds goofy, but I’ll try to get more info and some photos later. I tried two pieces (Tobago and Trinitario) and this was extra smooth but super dark and distinctive chocolate.
I also spent a bit of time at the Annabelle‘s booth as Sera is a huge fan of theirs. I’ve always been keen on the idea of them, but much of their product line hasn’t quite clicked with me (granted, my experience is limited). The good thing was that I was keeping an open mind and had high hopes for the new high end Rocky Road-type marshmallow bars: Rocky Road Supreme Dark Chocolate Mocha and Rocky Road Supreme Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter. The mocha one was my favorite and featured a lightly coffee flavored marshmallow that wasn’t particularly sweet, drenched in dark chocolate with chopped cashews. As is often the case with coffee flavored candies, it was more of a woodsy, maple or pecan flavor than that dark roasted flavor, but it was wholly pleasant and certainly something I want to give another try. The peanut butter version that was so rich and filling, I can’t believe that anyone could eat a single bar by themselves (and they probably shouldn’t with it clocking in at about 400 calories and 3 ounces and what is at least two portions). Think of them as King Sized bars that you can share ... a more affordable upscale marshmallow indulgence. Smart.
After the show I toted my samples for the day back to the hotel, a little less than a mile walk from the convention center to the hotel for the dump ... that moment where I just spread it out on the bed and pick through the items and inspect the wrappers and, well, write this up. The above is only a small sampling of thoughts ... my bed was covered with over 100 different items at the end of the day, so expect a full inventory in next week and then the reviews!
Continuing coverage on the Expo here.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Mars made a surprising and pleasant announcement this morning, they have come out in support of the current standards of identity for chocolate. That means that no matter what the FDA decides, they will not dilute our sacred chocolate experience with cheap vegetable fats.
I’ll have more later, but I have to say the new venue is really great. It’s spacious and well organized and of course brand spankin’ new. I’m having some connectivity problems at the hotel, so I don’t know how well I’m going to be able to do updates. But I’ll be posting photos from the floor as often as I can.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I’m busy packing and repacking today for my trip to Chicago to the All Candy Expo. Stop by all next week for daily coverage of what’s on the show floor, new products, things I spit out, and all the other insider info from the candy business.
The most exciting thing is that there are going to be many candy and food bloggers attending. I’ll try to have roundups of that coverage as the week goes on but you can check out Candy Addict, Chicagoist and Metroblogging Chicago.
In other global candy news, Bloomberg reports that the German chocolate market is saturated. So saturated that Germany is positively busting at the seams with great quality chocolate and will be forced to sell it to other countries. So expect to see more German chocolate in your local store.
The story also quotes that Germans consume an average of 19.8 pounds each. Americans average only 12 pounds. I can see why we look like a tempting target.
In other good news for dieters and diabetics, another report has confirmed that Aspartame (sold as
Nutrasweet) is safe for use. Personally, I don’t care for the stuff, it nauseates me and gives me a headache. I don’t think otherwise healthy children should be given artificial sweeteners, because I think natural is best as children learn their eating habits for life. But it’s good to know that if you do eat it (whether on purpose or by accident) that it’s safer than previously thought.
If my week in review isn’t enough for you, check out the Wandering Eater’s week in review ... be sure to scroll down to the awesome photos and descriptions of the Christopher Norman shop.
This week in review:
Monday: Candy Corn Kisses (4 out of 10)
Tuesday: Lake Champlain Organic Dark Bars (8 out of 10 & 9 out of 10)
Wednesday: Frey Supreme White, Lemon & Lime and Lemon & Pepper (6 out of 10)
Thursday: Walkers Nonsuch Toffee Original & Treacle (8 out of 10 & 9 out of 10)
Friday: M&Ms Razzberry - Limited Edition (4 out of 10)
Average for this week: 6.86 with 43% chocolate content.
Friday, September 14, 2007
I don’t usually do new product announcements, I like to have the candy in my hot little hands, photograph it, taste it, describe it and of course post as much info as possible ... you know, as part of my relentless public service.
But sometimes I really just wanna share my excitement about new products coming up.
Here are a few new products I know are going to be coming out soon:
Name: Twix Limited Edition Java Bar
Name: Pop Rocks Chocolate Bar
Name: PEEPS Peppermint flavored Stars
Name: Skittles Chocolate Mix
(All photos courtesy of the respective companies’ press kits.)
I did a guest post on Gridskipper.com of some Los Angeles chocolatiers. They have an awesome system of mapping everything. However, they gave me an itty bitty box to cram into it everything I thought was important about each one. If you’re looking for more, I’ve linked everything up here to my yummilicious reviews along with a grand listing you can print out if you want to do a little tour of Southern California chocolates.
Yes, yes, I know I still need to visit Compartes.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.