Sunday, May 18, 2008
All Candy Expo 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.)
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.