Is it a chip? Is it a crisp? Maybe a pretzel? Who knows, and who cares, as long as it tastes good, right? That was the consensus at this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo. Managing editor Marina Mayer takes you behind the scenes to find out what snack manufacturers have in store for the remainder of the year.

It's a Snackscapade

When times are tough, consumers get going to the snack aisle. That’s because snacks are the ultimate go-to solution.

Let’s face it, it’s more satisfying to plow through a bag of potato chips when you’re sad or angry than it is to stir over a bagel or a muffin.

What’s not so boring though is the assortment of new products that were on display at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, which was hosted by the National Confectioners Association, Washington, D.C. Many of today’s snack items test category limits by crossing over into other markets to create a high-powered snacking occasion.

Is it a chip, is it a crisp, maybe a pretzel, who knows? Who cares? As long as it tastes good, right?

Flamous Brands, Inc., San Gabriel, Calif., for instance, traveled into unchartered territory with Falafel chips. These organic, all-natural chips also are high in fiber and protein, are free of gluten, dairy, nuts and trans fat and are the designated chip for hummus dip.

Meanwhile, companies like The Exotic Blends Co., based in Ecuador, introducedSamai plaintain chips, which are made with the highest quality fruits and roots and are 100% natural and lactose- and gluten-free.

“There is a trend towards exotic flavors but with real/natural ingredients,” says Monica Alatorre, sales and marketing manager. “In this respect our Sweet Chipotle Plantain Chips were the star of the show.”

Likewise, Boonton, N.J.-based Mediterranean Snack Food Co. launched Baked Lentil Chips, which are made from a select Mediterranean recipe that includes lentils, adzuki and garbanzo beans. Created for dipping, topping and snacking these all-natural, gluten-free chips offer 70% less fat than regular potato chips and are a good source of fiber.

Snack mix manufacturers also are stirring up the competition with a bevy of exotic combinations that keep the excitement flowing in the snack segment.

For example, Legacy Bakehouse developed aMix ‘n Moreline of snack mixes that contain Vienna rye bagel chips, Cheddar puffs, breadstick bites and crispy waffle pretzels. These baked and lightly seasoned mixes come in Cheesy Buffalo, Original and Garlic options. The Waukesha, Wis., producer also introduced Pinah’s Rye Chips, which are cracker-size chips made from fresh bakery bread.

Pretzel makers like Bachman Co. showcased its version of an authentic crossover product. Pita Pretzel Squares, which are scheduled to hit store shelves in October, are puffed pita pretzels that are slow baked, sprinkled with sea salt and then smothered in creamy milk chocolate.

“Our Pita Pretzel Squares are a great ‘hybrid’ product,” says Jen Zechman, marketing product coordinator for the Wyomissing, Pa.-based snack producer. “They’re a square pretzel that’s perfect for dipping like a cracker.”

For its part, Snack Factory, based in Princeton, N.J., presented itsModern Classics line of Pretzel Crisps. Designed with the natural foods consumer in mind, these crisps offer only 110 calories per serving and come in Tuscan Three Cheese, Supreme, Cinnamon Toast and Classic varieties.

Even some meat snack manufacturers got in on the action.

Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, Minong, Wis., for example, introduced Jack Link’s Steakhouse Recipe beef jerky, which is made from premium, grilled steak and a blend of seasonings, sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions. This 97% fat-free snack also is naturally high in protein and low in calories and carbs.

On the other hand, companies like MARS Chocolate North America are targeting the on-the-go consumer who is in search of a little more than just a happy-go-lucky pick-me-up.

For instance, the Hackettstown, N.J., company debuted its newest bar creation. MARATHON energy bars provide sustained energy and nutrients and are an excellent source of fiber, whereas the MARATHON protein bars are made with a unique blend of soy, peanut, casein and whey to offer a host of amino acids.

Consumers, save your troubles for another day because we’re all about to embark on a snackscapade of hybrid products that defy categories but still taste oh so good.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about these and other new products, go to or look for upcoming Market Trends articles. To get your new product featured in Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine, send product information to Marina Mayer,