ECRM Kids Choice Awards Dallas
About 75 kids participated in the ECRM and Candy Industry Kid's Choice Awards at the ECRM show in Dallas last month. Photo Provided. 

It’s no secret that professional candy conferences tend to include, well, too many professionals. Meanwhile, the most coveted consumer remains notably absent.

The ECRM Winter Confectionery Show in Dallas last month was decidedly different though. In fact, about 75 kids were on hand to tell manufacturers exactly what they’d grab in the candy aisle.  

ECRM and Candy Industry hosted the Kid’s Choice Awards, and invited youth ages 7 to 14 from the local Boy’s and Girls Clubs.

As the kids filed into a large ballroom at the Dallas Hyatt Regency, each was given an official buyer’s badge.

Then, as they patiently waited to taste the products from the 18 different manufacturers who submitted samples, they learned what life as a candy buyer is actually like. Print Cates, director of franchise operations for Powell's Sweet Shop, a 17-store confectionery chain based on the West Coast, detailed his job, and then helped them learn the one song every candy buyer should know — Willy Wonka’s Pure Imagination.  

After that, the piles of candy samples were unveiled — and the tasting began!

The children were split into three groups, and then guided toward one of three tasting areas: chocolate, non-chocolate or novelty. After sampling all the confections, they voted for their favorite in that category and moved on to the next station.

By the end, the kids (as well as their adult escorts) all were hyped up on sugar and weighed down by whatever candy samples they could fit into their buyer’s bags.

As they gathered for a group photo, Candy Industry’s Publisher Kristine Collins asked everyone, “What’s better: This, or Halloween?”

Overwhelming, they voted “THIS!!!!”

When the votes all were counted, three products came out on top:


Click on the next page for a look at each one!