The National Confectioners Association (NCA) has announced the winners of the 2018 Most Innovative New Product Awards.
The winners, chosen from more than 300 entries, were announced at an awards ceremony at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, held May 22-24 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

The awards are sponsored by IRI, a Chicago-based research firm. The company has long appreciated the role new product development plays in strengthening the category.

“Historically, innovation has driven about 7 percent of the growth in confections,” said Larry Levin, IRI’s executive v.p. of consumer and shopper marketing. “New products spark excitement for the consumer and generate more opportunities for treating.”

 In addition to nine core categories judged in previous years, the NCA awarded Barry Callebaut the inaugural Ruby Award for Supplier Innovation for its development of Ruby chocolate, a rosy chocolate made from naturally pink cocoa beans.

Chicago-based Vosges Haut-Chocolat received the second Small Business Innovator Award for Wild Ophelia Hazelnut Cocoa Toast. This award recognizes companies with net sales under $500,000, giving them the opportunity to gain recognition among well-established peers.

This year's Best in Show award went to Hostess for Bakery Petites Double Chocolate Cake Delights, made with real chocolate and without high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors.
Product submissions for all categories were rated on four weighted criteria: taste, packaging, innovation and go-to-market feasibility.

Winners in the other categories include:
Hershey’s Gold Standard Bar
The Hershey Co. 

Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. – Junior Mint Minis
Seattle Chocolate – Seattle Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake Truffle Bar
R.M. Palmer Company – Football FANtasy
Tru Fru, LLC – Coconut Melts Freeze-Dried & Immersed in Dark Chocolate 

Big Chewy Nerds
Nestle USA/Ferrara Candy Co.

Ferrara Candy Co. – Sour Brite Sneaks
The Hershey Company – Jolly Rancher Misfits
Impact Confections, Inc. – HOTHEADS Scorching Heat Twists
Hammond’s Brands – Vanilla Caramel Marshmallow

Sweet Snacks 
Organic White Chocolate Mini Peanut Butter Cups

That’s How We Roll – Cinnamon Crumb Cake Thins
Edward Marc Brands, Inc. – Cookie Butter Snappers
Vidal Candies USA, Inc. – Spicy Mangos
The Promotion In Motion Companies, Inc. – Superfruit Mix

Salty Snacks 
Tangerine Vanilla Cashew Macadamia Glazed Mix
Sahale Snacks
From the Ground Up – Cauliflower Pretzel Sticks
Perfect Snax – Butterfinger
Made in Nature, LLC – Veggie Pops / Salt and Pepper
Rudolph Foods Co, Inc. – Oven Baked Pork Rinds/Blackberry Habanero

Savory Snacks
Trail Mix Crackers
Alli & Rose

Cheesewich Factory – Bacon and Eggs
Kellogg’s – Cheez-It Duoz Caramel Popcorn & Cheddar
Land O’Frost – High Protein Chips
Clever Cookie – Baked Cheddar Protein Crisps

Warheads Dippin’ Ring
Impact Confections

Ferrero U.S.A., Inc. – Frozen & Jurassic World Limited Editions
Bazooka Candy Brands, a Division of The Topps Company – Baby Bottle Popping Powder
PEZ Candy, Inc. – PEZ Jurassic World Click & Play Gift Tin
Jelly Belly Candy Co. – Jelly Belly Krispy Kreme Doughnut Tin

Ferrero Rocher Golden Heart for You and Me
Ferrero USA
Nestle USA – Big Chewy Nerds Reindeer Stocking Hanger
Jelly Belly Candy Co. – Jelly Belly Love Beans Valentine’s Gift Box
Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC – Mars Wrigley Chocolate Variety mix party bowl
The Hershey Co. – Hershey’s Kisses Hot Cocoa

Parm Crisps Trios
That's How We Roll
Chuao Chocolatier – Ravishing Rocky Road Joy-Filled Caramels
KIWA – Native Andean Potato Chip Mix
Hammond’s Brands – Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Marshmallows
Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC – Dove Chocolate Cashews dipped in milk chocolate

Gum & Mints 
Cool Tropical Tic Tac Gum
Ferrero USA, Inc.

Perfetti Van Melle USA, Inc. – Mentos CleanBreath
Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC – Juicy Fruit Gum Collisions Strawberry Watermelon
The Hershey Co. – Ice Breakers Deep Freeze Peppermint
Simply Gum – Cleanse / Grapefruit – Prickly Pear – Cayenne – Sea Salt