It’s hard to believe that this week — Tuesday, to be exact — marks my one-year anniversary as a full employee of Candy Industry Magazine. And what a year it has been.
The last 52 weeks have brought adventures to parts of the country and world I hadn’t seen before and gave me the chance to tell great stories. And, of course, I’ve been introduced to an industry full of fun, friendly and dedicated people. I couldn’t have asked for a better gig.
With this anniversary, I’d like to take some time to reflect on some of the experiences that have made this year special. Here are some of the highlights:
  • Yummex 2016: My first traditional trade show came in the form of Yummex, a Koelnmesse production staged annually in Dubai. In addition to getting a glimpse of the blossoming Middle Eastern and North African confectionery markets, I visited an amazing city. For those of you who haven’t experienced it, I would highly recommend it. The long flight is definitely worth it.
  • ISM 2017: Given my newness to the industry and the magazine, I didn’t think I’d attend ISM – the largest show for finished confections in the world – for some time. My boss, Editor-in-Chief Bernie Pacyniak, usually handles it. But a different set of circumstances meant that I was called up for the Big Show – literally. ISM is the closest one can get to Candy Land, and seeing a wide array of global products and companies was eye-opening.
  • ECRM: As I write this column, I’m waiting for meetings to start at the ECRM Candy Planning event in Orlando, Fla. These shows are full of whirlwind sessions with candy manufacturers and sellers, and that’s precisely why I like them. It has served as one of the best ways to get to know people, and I now enjoy seeing familiar faces each time. What’s more, being part of the Buyer’s Choice Awards and Kid’s Choice Awards is an honor.
  • World Chocolate Masters: Cacao Barry (Barry Callebaut) has hosted the World Chocolate Masters competition a handful of times before, and for the 2017/2018 competition, the French premium brand held the U.S. selection round at the Chicago Chocolate Academy. As many of our readers know, Chicago is our backyard. Watching elite pastry chefs and chocolatiers build stunning chocolate sculptures so close to home is not something I’ll soon forget.
  • Seattle Chocolates: Visiting and featuring outstanding manufacturers in our magazine is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job. I had the pleasure of seeing several around the country, but for me, a trip to Seattle Chocolates stood out. Not only is it located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, it’s run by Jean Thompson, a formidable force. She’s a great role model for women business owners and the industry as a whole. And she makes great chocolate to boot.
I would be remiss to conclude this column without thanking Bernie and former Managing Editor Crystal Lindell. Recalling my days as an intern, Crystal recommended that I apply for the job. Without her thinking of me, I wouldn’t have done any of this. And Bernie, of course, took a shot on me, for which I’m grateful. This opportunity has opened many doors and has given me a deeper understanding of the industry.
I can’t wait to see what the next year brings. I have a feeling, though, it’s going to be sweet.