The 2016 Most Innovative New Product Award winners have been named by the National Confectioners Association.

The winners, chosen from more than 300 new product award entries, were announced in an awards ceremony celebration at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, running from May 24-26.

"It's hard not to smile when thinking about how much fun candy is, but what people may not realize is how many companies around the globe are working tirelessly to push the envelope to take the confection and snacks industry to the next level," says John Downs, NCA president and CEO. "We are continuously amazed by the industry's evolution and ability to remain innovative and exciting."

An evaluation panel led by Supermarket Guru and food marketing authority Phil Lempert chose 45 nominees from the 320 submissions for the award. The nominations came from nine categories across the candy and snack industry, including chocolate, non-chocolate, sweet, salty, savory, novelty, seasonal, gourmet/premium, and gum/mints.

Rated on taste, packaging, innovation, and go-to market feasibility, the nominees represent the most creative, innovative and fun products that the industry has to offer.

Submissions saw a growth of 12 percent this year, with a number of products showcasing responsibility by encouraging smart snacking through their packaging forms and technology.

"With more competition than ever before, each of the Most Innovative Product Award finalists and winners represent the upper echelon of candy and snack innovation," says Barry Rosenbaum, chairman of the Sweets & Snacks Expo and president of Nassau Candy Distributors, Inc. "However, the increase in entries, totaling 320 this year, shows how innovative and progressive our industry is and embodies the essence of the Sweets & Snacks Expo."

This year's winners are:

Best in show winner: The Hershey Company - Reese's Pieces Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate winner: Ferrero U.S.A., Inc. – Grand Ferrero Rocher
MARS Chocolate North America – DOVE Chocolate Fruit & Nut - Raspberry & Honey Roasted Almond
MARS Chocolate North America – DOVE Chocolate Fruit & Nut - Strawberry & Cocoa Almond
R.M. Palmer Company – You're Jawsome
The Hershey Company – Hershey's Brookside Dark Chocolate Tablet Bar Blueberry Almond Acai Flavor

Non-chocolate winner: Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Starburst Gummies
Ferrara Candy Co. – Black Forest Organic Gummy Bears
Ferrara Candy Co. – Black Forest Organic Sour Heads
Just Born, Inc. – HOT TAMALES Licorice Bites
Perfetti Van Melle USA Inc. – Airheads Xtremes Sourfuls

Sweet snacks winner: Alli & Rose, LLC – Half Dips Dark Chocolate Mango
Alli & Rose, LLC – Crispy Coconut Rolls Dipped in Dark Chocolate
Brownie Brittle, LLC. – Organic Pretzel & Dark Chocolate Brownie Brittle
DeMet's Candy Company – FLIPZ Caramel Sea Salt Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Golden Cannoli – The Original Cannoli Chips

Salty snacks winner: Naturally Homegrown Foods Ltd – Hardbite "18 CARROT GOLD" Carrot Chips
Beanfields Snacks – Beanfields Jalapeño Nacho Bean and Rice Chips
Caribe Producers – Hatfield & McCoy Bacon Jerky Spicy Revenge
Jack Link's Beef Jerky – Small Batch Maple Bacon Jerky
Popchips, Inc. – popchips Ridges

Savory snacks winner: Temple Lifestyle – Hungry Buddha Smokin' Sriracha Coconut Chips
Alli & Rose, LLC – Broccoli Florets
Alli & Rose, LLC – Onion Chips
Perky Jerky – Brewmasters Pale Ale Turkey Perky Jerky

Novelty/licensed winner: Dippin' Dots Ice-Cream – Dippin' Dots Redberry Sherbet with Sour Patch Kids
Boncho Boncha Corporation – Selfie Candy
Boston America Corp – Bug Tape
Jelly Belly Candy Co. – BATMAN™ Grab & Go Bag
Kokos Confectionery & Novelty – Squeezy Squirt Pop

Seasonal winner: DeMet's Candy Company – TURTLES Eggs
Ferrara Candy Co. – Trolli Sour Brite Trees
Jelly Belly Candy Co. – Jelly Belly Naughty or Nice BeanBoozled Spinner Gift Box
The Hershey Company – Hershey's Candy Corn Crème Bar
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Starburst Ice Cream Jellybeans

Gourmet/premium winner: Jelly Belly Candy Co. – Organic Jelly Beans
Bare Snacks – bare Baked Crunchy Cinnamon Banana Chips
Brown & Haley – Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter MOUNTAIN THINS
Little Secrets – Toasted Coconut
Thanasi Foods – Duke's Hatch Green Chile Smoked "SHORTY" Sausages

Gum & Mints Winner: Bazooka Candy Brands – Bazooka Sugar-Free To Go Cup
Mondelez International – Stride Revolution Melo Peach
Mondelez International – Stride Revolution Spearmint
Project 7 – Project 7 Build a Flavor Smores Pack
Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Orbit White