By Deborah Cassell
Executive Editor
Candy Industry,
Retail Confectioner

getting fresh: Spring confections have sprung

As a kid, I remember those classmates who busted out the sandals and shorts as soon as the sun started shining in March, despite snow still on the ground and wind chills that sent temperatures plummeting come nightfall.
My mother would never have allowed for such seasonal inappropriateness. But as an adult, I admit I will be tempted to dress accordingly later this week, if forecasts prove accurate. This morning, NBC 5 weatherman Andy Avalos informed me (and the rest of Chicagoland) that temps should climb into the upper-40s come Friday – a welcome change after this long, dark winter. (Ground Hog Punxsutawney Phil was right when he predicted six more weeks of cabin fever. How DOES that wise woodchuck do it?)
March 20 will mark the official first day of spring. And Easter does not fall until April 4. But in the grand tradition of seasonal merchandising, retailers already have set up their springtime and Easter displays, including colored eggs, artificial grass, baskets-a-plenty and chocolate bunnies as far as the eye can see.
Take World Market, whose pastel Easter POP dominates the front section of its stores. Unlike traditional stores, World Market offers confections from all over the country as well as the globe, from England to Australia and everywhere in between.
A recent trip to the company’s Evanston, Ill., and Deerfield, Ill., locations, revealed Carrot Cake Cookies, a Gingerbread Bird House Kit, assorted chocolates from Riegelein Confiserie, Marzipan Easter Eggs, aptly shaped and colored Peeps from Just Born, Cadbury Easter Mallows and Kencraft Sugar Eggs, among numerous other seasonal offerings, as well as items from World Market’s growing private label line.

Sweetique Real Chocolate Eggs

Recently, my inbox has been flooded with new product introductions for the Easter season, too, including Sweetique Real Chocolate Eggs (shown here), Ou Quadrat (Squared Egg) from Enric Rovira, Divine Chocolate Mini Eggs and Easter tins by Bridge Brands, aka The San Francisco Chocolate Co., to just name a few.
It’s never too soon to start thinking spring, especially if you’re a retailer. So follow the lead of those anxious students sporting sandals and shorts later this week, and get to merchandising!
Editor’s Note: Check out the upcoming issue of Retail Confectioner for our exclusive profile of World Market.

Frank Sarris passes away

Frank Sarris passes away Sarris Candies’ founder and president, Frank Sarris, died Monday night at the age of 78. The beloved candymaker, a former Candy Industry Kettle Award nominee, first started making chocolate in the basement of his home in 1960.
The self-taught chocolatier went on to formally open his own business in 1963, selling his car to secure a $15,000 loan so he could acquire a 2,000-sq.-ft building in Canonsburg, Pa.
Since then, he – together with his wife Athena and children, Billy and Sophia – built up Sarris Candies to a $16-million enterprise. In 1997, the company acquired Tyrone, Pa.-based Garner’s Candies and its 18 retail shops. Today, the company operates two production facilities, employs 360 people and services a broad range of retail shops throughout Pennsylvania as well as neighboring states. (For a complete profile on Sarris Candies, see Candy Industry’s September 2002 issue on
The “Chocolate King of Western Pennsylvania” was not only known for his confections, but his generosity, as well. Most recently, he donated $2.5 million to the construction of a new 30,000-sq.-ft, two-story library in Canonsburg.
In addition to being nominated for the Kettle Award in 2002, Sarris also received the following honors: Pennsylvania Small Business Association Person of the Year (2001), Washington Jefferson College’s Entrepreneur of the Year (2002) and Philanthropist of the Year (2003).
Sarris is survived by his wife, Athena Kontos Sarris; son William “Billy” Sarris; daughter Sophia Heon; sisters Bessie Johns, Evelyn Volas and Mary Sarris Kotlinksi; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in North Strabane, Pa., at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 5.
For more information, visit

Guylian USA names new president

Michael Cobb will take over as president of Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based Guylian USA, Inc. on March 8. Most recently, Cobb was vice president of marketing and sales for Bongrain Cheese USA, an international leader in specialty cheeses based in New Holland, Pa. During his tenure there, he developed brand vision and growth strategy that helped deliver record profits for the company.
Prior to that, he was marketing director of Twinings North America, Inc., where he designed the strategic plan that made Twinings the fastest growing tea brand in the United States and Canada.
“Michael has an outstanding record in brand-building, revitalizing under-performing brands, identifying new growth opportunities, and unlocking profit and share growth potential,” says Leslie Coopersmith, ceo of Guylian USA. “He will be a tremendous asset to the Guylian team as we work with retailers to navigate this difficult economy and build our chocolate gift business.”
Cobb began his career at Procter & Gamble de Venezuela in Caracas, followed by a 10‑year stint at Unilever Foods North America. There, he held a variety of management positions and directed such major international consumer brands as Hellmann’s, Ragu and Wish‑Bone.
He completed his undergraduate work at Oklahoma City University and holds a Master’s of Science in Integrated Marketing from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
For more information, visit

Mars debuts healthy snack in Colo.

In a move to receive an imprimatur from some of America’s most health-conscious consumers, Mars Chocolate North America has launched it goodnessKnows snack squares in Boulder, Colo.
“This area is world-famous for its emphasis on – and appreciation of − healthy living,” says Suzanne Stites, cocoa flavanol platform leader, Mars Chocolate North America. “If we can get a stamp of approval from Colorado’s discerning, health-conscious consumers, then consumers everywhere should embrace this new snack!”
Made with slow-roasted whole almonds, tangy fruits and toasted whole grains, goodnessKnows snack squares contain no artificial ingredients, colors or flavors. Each snack square sits on a specially formulated bed of chocolate, which delivers 200 mg. of bio-available cocoa flavanols. Recent medical research suggests that such chocolate phytonutrients can help support healthy circulation, which aids the free flow of nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.
Available in three flavors – Very Cranberry, Almonds & Berries, and Roasted Nuts & Grains – goodnessKnows snack squares currently are only being sold in Boulder, Colo., but will expand to Denver in April. The snacks will be displayed in the nut and fruit aisle or healthy bar aisle of select grocery stores, with single-serve packets near the checkout counter in some stores.
 Each four-square serving has 150 calories and delivers 2-3 g. of fiber, 3 g. of protein, 200 mg. of cocoa flavanols and only 20-35 mg. of sodium. goodnessKnows snack squares single-serve and multipacks sell for a suggested retail price of $1.59 and $4.99, respectively.
For more information, visit

Sweet of the week: Justin's Natural Chocolate Nut Butters

Justin’s All Natural Chocolate Nut Butters, a product of Justin’s Nut Butter, Boulder, Colo., are made in small, individual batches using a proprietary grinding process to ensure optimum flavor and best consistency. It comes in eight flavors, including its newest: Chocolate Hazelnut, Chocolate Almond and Chocolate Peanut Butter. The suggested retail prices are $5.99 for a 16-oz. jar of peanut; $9.99 for a 16-oz. jar of almond or hazelnut; $0.59 for a 1.15-oz. squeeze pack of peanut; and $0.99 for a 1.15-oz. squeeze pack of almond or hazelnut. 
For more information, call 1-303-449-9559 or visit