By Deborah Cassell
Executive Editor
Candy Industry,
Retail Confectioner

getting fresh: Cheers for chocolate … and wine

As a kid, I used to make homemade greeting cards for family members -- some featuring my favorite fat cat (Garfield) and always with a Cassell Company Cards copyright logo on the back. For my parents’ anniversary, I once created a card that read “Mom and Dad, you go together like bread and butter” (complete with illustrations of said ingredients).
Yes, some marriages just make sense. Bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly … and wine and chocolate, of course.
People have been coupling their favorite bottles of vino and chocolate bars/truffles/barks for ages. But in recent years, the combination has gone mainstream in the form of sophisticated new products and merchandising strategies that take aim at fans of the palate-pleasing pairing.
Take Brix: Chocolate for Wine. Its creator, Dr. Nick Proia (an Ohio pulmonologist), developed the line after having difficulty finding chocolate on the market that paired well with wine. According to, “after trying all different varieties and ‘strengths,’ he could find no happy medium. Either the chocolate was too much like eating candy or it was so bitter and complex that it would dominate a fine wine.
“After a good deal of trial and error,” the story continues, “Dr. Proia crafted the three blends of what would later be called Brix -- the first chocolate specifically blended to compliment wine. At their root is single origin Ghanaian chocolate, known for its red fruit tones, mixed with the highest quality confectionary chocolate. The result is a blend so pure in flavor that it actually enhances those nuances found in great wines, without confusing the palate.”

The resulting bricks or Brix come in three varieties: Milk Chocolate (“designed for the lighter reds and dessert wines,” and recommended for pairing with Port, Ice Wine, Rosé, Pinot Noir and Burgundy), Dark Chocolate (high in cocoa content, but “sedate enough to enhance the fruit forward wines it was designed to accompany making it the most versatile,” and recommended for pairing with Zinfandel, Syrah, Rhone, Merlot and Shiraz, “but don't be fooled -- it easily stretches upward to the lighter cabs and downward to the heavier pinots”) and Extra Dark Chocolate (“specifically formulated to pair with the deepest red wines,” with a very high cocoa content that “can stand up to the massive tannins” found in these wines: Barolo, Cabernet and Bordeaux as well as Zinfandels and Syrahs). A  pack of three Brix retails for $38.85. (Brix also offers Brix Bites: 6-oz. variety boxes containing 10 Dark Bites, 10 Extra Dark Bites and four Milk Bites.)
Brix isn’t the only brand with fusion on the brain. Other products on the market include Wine Lover’s Chocolate from Bridge Brands Chocolate as well as various wine-filled chocolates and truffles.
“Chocolate for wine lovers” also is the subject of a site created by The Hershey Co.: There, it offers visitors guidelines or “pairing pointers” such as “keep it sweet,” “think red,” “be daring,” “embrace texture” and “think like a pastry chef.”
Chuao Chocolatier offers its own wine-chocolate tasting guidelines at
And at retail, DOVE Chocolate and E.J. Gallo Winery are sure to rack up sales with their new DOVE Chocolate and Wine Pairing Rack, available to retailers in all distribution channels - grocery, convenience and drug - that carry E. & J. Gallo Winery as well as DOVE Chocolate.
“The goal of the DOVE Chocolate Wine Pairing Rack is to create an ongoing program bringing the wine and chocolate experience to consumers on a regular basis,” says Lauren Nodzak, spokesperson for Mars Chocolate North America. “Pairing luscious, creamy DOVE Chocolate with premium wine provides the perfect indulgent experience for consumers,” especially since more people are entertaining at home rather than eating out.
The DOVE Chocolate and Wine Pairing Rack helps consumers who want to create elegant dining experiences at home by guiding them to the right selection of wines to accompany different DOVE Chocolate flavors. It holds 16 bottles of wine alongside an assortment of DOVE Chocolate, and can be used in virtually any retail format where chocolate and wine are sold.
Chocolate and wine: a winning combination.
But wait. Another match is being made in food and beverage heaven: beer and chocolate. Tandem tastings of the two are becoming more prominent. At, Vosges Haut Chocolat pairs its signature Mo’s Bacon Bar with Rogue Shakespeare Stout, and Caramel Marshmallows with Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout. And as Candy Industry sister pub Beverage Industry reported in April, one of the categories with the most entries in the 2010 Brewers Association World Beer Cup was Chocolate Beer.
But there might be one thing better than beer and chocolate.
I recently received an e-mail from The Restaurant Collection promoting a grilled cheese and beer tasting (you read correctly) at World Café Life in Philadelphia. The event included pairings of craft beers and artisan cheeses on fresh-baked breads.
Wine, chocolate, beer, cheese, bread and butter … bring it.

Kids' food, beverages market to reach $89.3 billion by 2015

Growing health awareness, time constraints and the ensuing demand for functional and convenience foods has and will continue to drive growth and development of the kids’ food and beverage market, pushing total sales to nearly $90 billion in 2015, reports San Jose, Calif.-based Global Industry Analysts in their latest publication, “Kids’ Food and Beverages: A Global Strategic Business Report.”
In addition to providing a review of noteworthy market trends, growth drivers and challenges, the report’s authors enumerate recent acquisitions and other strategic industry activities. The single segment report offers latent demand estimates and projections for world kids’ food and beverages market in dollar sales across regional markets in the United States, Canada, Japan, Europe, Asia Pacific and the rest of the world.
Noting that “Nutrition is imperative for mental and physical development of a child, and this is something parents understand innately,” the researchers sees “healthy snacks” as “a nutritious way to incorporate vital nutrients and vitamins to a well-proportioned diet.”
Despite the recent economic downturn, “kids’ food and beverages have remained largely shielded from the recessionary blues,” the authors emphasize.
As the report points out, “Rising, and uncompromising emphasis on child health and wellness, coupled with growing awareness and benefits of the right dietary habits, are helping consumers spend more on products that offer greater value. Continuous product innovations will additionally help keep consumer interests sufficiently kindled. A new legion of snack products are rapidly emerging that use sugar and fat replacers, new functional ingredients, and new cooking processes to make them wholesome and healthier.”
Among the 61 companies profiled in the research are the following: Amaze Brain Food, Atkins Nutritionals Inc, Britvic Plc, Clif Bar & Co, ConAgra Foods Inc, Fortitech Inc, General Mills Inc, GlaxoSmithkline Plc, Healthy Handfuls LLC, Healtheries KidsCare, Kellogg Co., Kraft Foods Inc, McKee Foods Corp., Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc, PepsiCo Inc, Quaker Oats Co., PowerBar Inc, Slim-Fast Foods Co., Sunsweet Growers Inc, Tipco Foods Public Co. Ltd., Want Want China Holdings Ltd, and Yum Yum Snacks.

Ganeden Biotech launches probiotic yogurt-covered raisins

Ganeden Biotech, Inc., maker of the patented probiotic strain GanedenBC30, announced it will partner with Tropical Nut & Fruit, Inc., a manufacturer of nuts, snacks, high-quality chocolate and yogurt products, in launching a line of four functional confectionery mixes. All of the mixes - the first of which features Tropical Nut & Fruit's yogurt-covered raisins, will include GanedenBC30.
Only currently available for purchase in bulk, the probiotic yogurt-covered raisins will be sampled at Ganeden Biotech's booth (3361) during this year's IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo, which kicks offs this Saturday, July 17, and runs through July 20 in Chicago.
"Ganeden's status as the industry leader, combined with the ability of GanedenBC30 to remain shelf-stable, made partnering with them a no-brainer," says Alicia Lehota, president of Tropical Nut & Fruit, Inc. "We wanted to ensure that our products maintained the same flavor and consistency when infused with a probiotic, and GanedenBC30 allowed us to do that."

According to Ganeden Biotch, GanedenBC30 can survive harsh manufacturing processes, unlike other probiotic strains. The “naturally-occurring layer of organic material that protects the genetic core of the bacteria,” allows the strain to survive the manufacturing process and “still provide its added health benefits, which includes supporting digestive and immune health,” the company says.
"We are excited to be able to provide our patented probiotic to such a great company, especially one that is similarly committed to superior customer service and nutritional excellence," adds Andrew Lefkowitz, Ganeden Biotech president and ceo. "The yogurt raisins are the first product of this partnership, but we look forward to developing similar confections and continuing to expand on this partnership in the near future."
For more information, please visit or

Brendan Kelley joins Big Sky Brands

Toronto-based Big Sky Brands Inc. has hired Brendan Kelley as its national sales manager covering the U.S. market. He will be responsible for management of Big Sky’s national broker network as well as key account representation.
Kelley, formerly with Orchard Sweet Foods and Ben Myerson Candy Co, brings much valued perspective and insight with 17 years of experience within the confectionery industry. His extensive knowledge of the Sunkist brand will also provide support for Big Sky’s launch of the new Sunkist Citrus Burst product line, its most recent licensing partnership.
Big Sky Brands Inc. produces a variety of licensed, branded and private-label confectionery lines geared to youth and young adult markets, including Sunkist Citrus Burst, Jones Soda Carbonated Candy, Yogen Fruz Smoothies, Playboy Peppermints and Warp Energy Mints.
For more information, visit

Guylian's Leslie Coopersmith retires

Leslie Coopersmith, ceo of Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based Guylian USA Inc. announced her retirement yesterday after more than 30 years in the confectionery industry. Michael Cobb, who was recently hired as president of Guylian USA, will take on ceo responsibilities.
“Michael has an outstanding record in brand-building, revitalizing brands, identifying new growth opportunities, and unlocking profit and share growth potential, so I know I’m leaving the company in excellent hands,” Coopersmith says.
Her career with Guylain begain in 1988, when she was tapped to head up the Belgian chocolatier’s import business into the U.S. In 1994, as president of Guylain USA, Coopersmith helped establish the company in the United States. She opened up the u.s. market to cover all classes of trade, which led to the company becoming a major player in the travel retail business. As a result, Guylian’s Seashell chocolates became the No. 1 imported chocolate seashells in America.
Coopersmith was promoted to ceo in 2005. Under her leadership, Guylian USA expanded its market for chocolate gifts, as well as self-purchase. In addition to Guylian Seashells, she introduced a range of gift-boxed chocolates – including the new, award-winning Extra Dark Guylian Seashells – and launched a line of No Sugar Added Belgian chocolate bars, renown for offering a true, flavorful Belgian chocolate experience.
Coopersmith began her lengthy career in the confectionery business in 1978 at Ward Foods, the then producers of Chunky, Raisinettes and Goobers. Next, she worked for Nabisco Brands, where, in 1987, she became the corporation’s first female vice president of sales. Her love of the specialty end of the confectionery business developed when she joined Droste USA. It was during her tenure there that she met Carl and Dominique Krefting, the owners of Chocolaterie Guylian. The Kretfings “offered me the opportunity to help build the Guylian business and brand from the roots up,” she says.
Coopersmith has served on the board of the National Confectionery Association and is currently a board member of the National Confectionery Sales Association. She was inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame in 2001.
For more information, visit

Sweet of the week: Cinnamon Bun Bites

From Taste of Nature, Inc., Santa Monica, Calif. -- the maker of Cookie Dough Bites -- come Cinnamon Bun Bites: cinnamon bun centers covered in a white chocolatey candy coating for a “fresh from the oven taste.” The suggested retail price is $1.09-$1.49 per 3.1-oz. package.
For more information, call 1-310-396-4433 or visit