By Bernard Pacyniak
Candy Industry

getting fresh: Sushi, stevia & sheer delights from Cologne

Imagine more snow in Cologne than Chicago. Seasoned attendees at the International Sweets & Biscuits Fair (ISM) have remarked that this was the snowiest candy gathering in more than 30 years. And while the snow caused some problems for those in Germany trying to get to Cologne on Sunday, it really didn’t have that much of an impact on attendance, except for providing a beautiful white chocolate veil over the city.

Listen, it’s all about candy here and has been for the past 40 years. Naturally, that means they held a party for ISM, with the mayor and lots of dignitaries attending a special dinner Sunday night.

Of course, Cologne tends to be all about parties, particularly during this time of the year (Carnivale), the winter period before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. In American terms, Carnivale is just a much longer Mardi Gras celebration.

Colognians love to get dressed and drink lots ofKölsch, a local brew that’s served in tall, narrow glasses. The rationale behind these 0.2-liter glasses is that you want fresh beer served as often as possible. Waiters and waitresses have special round serving trays that hold these glasses and scamper about, ensuring that you have a freshKölsch whenever you need it.

ButKölsch culture aside, the ISM fair, held Jan. 31-Feb. 3, is confections on steroids. Here, tens of thousands of participants have an opportunity to check out 1,503 confectionery manufacturers, marketers and suppliers from 66 countries.

This year, 100 journalists were invited to vote on the most innovative confections on display at the fair. My being from Chicago, ISM organizers were a little unsure about letting yours truly vote -- you know, the vote early and often stigma. Not really, but we just had a primary in Chicago, and I couldn’t resist mentioning the local tradition.

Anyway, after the tabulating was done, three items were selected: Sushi in the city from Rovacos S.A., reduced-sugar chocolate with stevia from Villars Maître Chocolatier SA, andTrolli Cheesecake from Mederer Süßwarenvertriebs GmbH.

What can I tell you -- those sweet sushi treats combine the fine, elegant look of the Japanese specialty with the inherent talents evident in this Wemmel, Belgium-based chocolatier.

The Swiss company Villars Maître Chocolatier SA, also impressed journalists with its reduced-sugar dark chocolate bar. Villars uses a natural sweetener that is obtained from the leaves of the stevia plant. The Swiss chocolate experts experimented for more than a year-and-a-half with rebaudioside A, the sweetener derived from the stevia plant.

Finally, there’s my favorite:Trolli Cheesecake gummi. The three-layer gummi perfectly captures the cheesecake flavor note as well as appearance. Moreover, what’s really cool is that once the gummi is packaged, the “graham crust” layer actually develops a more textural crunch after two weeks.

In total, there were 93 new products from all over the world for journalists to evaluate. Take a peek at them by

I think you’ll be impressed with the creativity this fair inspires amongst candymakers.

ADM publishes corporate sustainability report

Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) has published its progress in the areas of supply-chain integrity, environmental stewardship, social investing and safety in its first corporate sustainability report, availableonline.

One such update deals with the company’s cocoa sustainability programs, which focus on improving crop quality and production volumes, along with the health and well-being of farm laborers, their families and growing communities in western Africa. Over the past five years, more than 12,000 cocoa farmers in the region have participated in ADM’s Socially and Environmentally Responsible Agricultural Practices program.

“Because ADM serves vital human needs for food and energy, our work is intimately tied to our social responsibility,” says Patricia Woertz, chairman, ceo and president of ADM. “We have made considerable progress…and there also remains a great deal of work ahead of us.”

For more information,

Gimbal's Cherry Lovers wins best new confectionery product

After considering hundreds of nominees, The National Confectionery Sales Association (NCSA) selectedGimbal’s Fine CandiesCherry LoversFruit Chews “best new confectionery product.” Lance Gimbal, owner of San Francisco-based Gimbal's Fine Candies, accepted the award, saying, “We’re really grateful to be making candy that people truly love to eat.”

The NCSA team chose confections deemed “influential” in a category and awarded those that were truly different and significant. Gimbal’sCherry LoversFruit Chews come in nine different cherry flavors and are made with real cherry juice. They also contain vitamin C. The product has a suggested retail price of $3.49 for a 13-oz. bag.

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Mars launches Truffle Crisp

Adding to its3 Musketeersbrand portfolio, Mars has introduced the3 Musketeers Truffle Crispbar. The new confection features a layer of meringue with a light, whipped truffle on top, enrobed in milk chocolate. The bars come in a two-piece, single-serve package for portion control or sharing. They are available at select supermarkets, convenience stores and mass retailers nationwide at a suggested retail price of $0.79.

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sweet of the week: Billion Dollar Bar

“When a million dollars just isn’t enough,” there’s Tom and Sally’s newBillion Dollar Bar, made from milk chocolate in the size and shape of real currency that “tastes better than real money.” Tom and Sally’s recommends that you “soar like an eagle” with this confectionery bar, which gives “hope for the Federal Reserve.” Bars are packed 24 to a case. The suggested retail price is $6 per 4.35-oz. bar. For more information, call 1-800-827-0800 or