All Candy Expo Trend Tracking

By Shonda Dudlicek and Mary Ellen Kuhn

Amid the sights and sounds of the exhibit floor, we scoped out some key product trends.

Walking the sweet maze of booths on the show floor at the All Candy Expo can very quickly lead to sensory overload. Now that the tastes, sights and aromas are but a fond memory, it’s easier to assess, evaluate and draw a few conclusions about all that was seen and sampled. Here’s an overview of some of the product trends we identified.

Treats get twisted. Two great tastes that taste great together ... some of this year’s innovative products pair the unexpected, way beyond peanut butter and chocolate. Current partnerships include popping zest in a candy bar, a chocolatey candy lollipop and lollipop/creamy dip combo.
The new chocolate bar from Atlanta-based Pop Rocks kicks it up a notch with the popping sensation in a milk chocolate treat. Pop Rocks Topping features pieces that melt and pop when they’re spread over other desserts.
Vertigo from Topps Co., New York, N.Y., is a half-candy, half-chocolatey lollipop, a hard candy with a smooth chocolatey base, all on a stick. The lollipop stands out in bold colors and blends two flavors and textures.
Combining the adventure of licking and dipping, Airheads Crazy Dips from Perfetti Van Melle, Erlanger, Ky., feature both lollipops and power rocks, allowing kids to dip the pops in the snapping, crackly rocks or to eat them separately.
Chocolate returns to its roots. Chocolate is celebrated all over the world, and those international influences are recognized with a growing array of confections that tout the origin of the cacao beans used in formulating them.
Distinctive offerings from Russell Stover, Kansas City, Mo., include flavors and aromas from Ghana, Ecuador, Belgium, the South Seas and Madagascar in combinations like Toasted South Seas Coconut and Sea Salt Soft Caramel.
Chuao Chocolatier, Carlsbad, Calif., offers premium Venezuelan chocolate bars that pay homage to famous beaches and growing regions in Venezuela. With 74 percent dark chocolate, the bars embody the robust tropics and relaxing Caribbean lifestyle. Venezuelan cacao is more robust and has a long-lasting tart flavor, says Michael Antonorsi, co-founder of the company.
“As people are getting more into what they’re eating and walking away from trans fats, they’re looking for sophisticated foods,” Antonorsi observes. “They’re trading up to the finest foods.”
Sprays make a splash. Sour is a perennial kids’ candy favorite. This year, the more sour the better, and these shots of sour are being delivered in sprays. The spray format is also being used for a shot of sweet.
The latest addition to the Cadbury Adams’ Sour Patch family, Sour Patch Extreme, combines two unique flavors in one candy for a super-sour taste. Intensely sour candy coating is layered over one of three sour flavor combinations.
Impact Confections, Colorado Springs, Colo., launches its Warheads Super Sour Spray with Lollipop, thus joining two favorite candy types in one compact design. The lollipop itself can be sprayed for a sweet and sour sensation or the lollipop and spray can be enjoyed separately.
Mike and Ike’s sweet flavors and Hot Tamales’ spicy taste also are available in a spray candy from Impact Confections through a licensing agreement with Just Born, Bethlehem, Pa.
Too Tarts SmartChoice Melted Ice Cream Spray Candy from Atlanta-based Innovative Candy Concepts offers an ice cream flavored sensation. Ice cream lovers can enjoy a quick spray of blueberry, strawberry and banana split. Also, the Sinfully Delicious Gourmet Dessert Spray from Innovative Candy Concepts delivers the taste of decadent desserts such as key lime pie and strawberry cheesecake via a calorie-free spray.  
Can-do candy comes on strong. Functional confections —products that deliver added benefits — are not new news in the candy world, but it certainly appears that consumers will be seeing even more of them in the months ahead.
Among the highest-profile debuts: Dove Vitalize and Dove Beautiful from Mars Snackfood, Hackettstown, N.J., which are slated to arrive in the marketplace early next year. Vitalize is a dark chocolate high-flavanol-content bar, which positions it to deliver heart health benefits, and Beautiful is enhanced with skin-nourishing vitamins C and E, biotin and zinc.
Hershey showed an interesting functional product targeted to teens and slated for rollout later this year — Ice Breakers Pacs. Available in peppermint and orange flavors, Pacs feature a powder wrapped in film that dissolves easily in the mouth, serving as a delivery vehicle for vitamins A, C, E and zinc.
Jelly Belly, Fairfield, Calif., has pumped up its Sport Beans fortified with electrolytes and vitamins; the new version, Extreme Sport Beans, boasts 50 mg of caffeine per serving, the equivalent to the caffeine content of half a cup of brewed coffee.
Organic options expand. Already a noteworthy presence in the chocolate segment of the market, organic options also are expanding in the non-chocolate sector. Pure Fun Confections, Toronto, Canada, is building on its current base of organic cotton candy and candy canes with rollout of an extensive hard candy assortment that includes lollipops as well as more distinctive offerings such as Fruit Pinwheels, Jaw Boulders and Chocolate Meltdowns.
YummyEarth, Ridgewood, N.J., showed off organic lollipops and hard candy drops in creatively named varieties such as Cheeky Lemon, Roadside Root Beer and Pomegranate Pucker.
In addition, longtime hard candy marketer Hillside Candy, Hillside N.J., touted the organic certification of its GoNaturally line of hard candy at the Expo. The line, already all natural, was reformulated as organic and received certification as such this spring, company president, Ted Cohen, reports.