Debborah Cassell
Confection & Snack Retailing

The season finale of MTV’s “Taking the Stage,” a critically acclaimed reality show that follows the lives of teens attending a high school for the performing arts in Cincinnati, Ohio, was titled “The X Factor.” The episode focused on that elusive star quality agents and talent scouts look for in a singer, dancer, artist … you know, the “it” factor.”

As an editor attending next week’s ALL CANDY EXPO, I will be looking for just that. Something new. Something special. Something that makes me stop in my tracks and say, “Now THAT’S cool.”

Although my favorite brands and line extensions thereof are always of interest, new products are an EXPO highlight for me. My search will take me up and down every aisle of the show, as well as through the New Products Showcase, where I will point, shoot and scan items like a bride at a registry. I’ll be looking for premium single-origin chocolates, sugar- and gluten-free confections, functional and protein-packed snacks, all-natural gummies and hard candies, you name it and then some.

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and it’s often been asked, “What’s in a name?” but I beg to differ. Chances are if the company has a memorable title, its products will be memorable, too. That’s why I’m looking forward to checking out offerings from first-time exhibitors Brightspot Brands, Get Silly Ice Cream, Flax Your Body, Karma Candy, OhYeah! and Sweets in Bloom, among others. (For a full listing of this year’s new EXPO exhibitors, visit

I won’t be alone, of course. Everyone attending the ALL CANDY EXPO wants to know what’s hot, what’s not and what’s next.

Just ask the readers ofConfection & Snack Retailing. For the first edition ofThe Daily, whichC&SRproduces in conjunction with the National Confectioners Association, we asked professional candy buyers what they’ll be looking for at this year’s EXPO. The answer? You guessed it: All things new, innovative, interesting and inventive.

For example, Nick Nichols of Family Dollar in Charlotte, N.C., notes that he will be seeking out “the new, latest and greatest products.”

Meanwhile, Rolando Rodriguez of Legoland Discovery Center, Schaumburg, Ill., says, “I want to sell items that make people say, ‘Oh my God, I haven’t seen that in years!’ or “I’ve never seen that before!’”

As for David Levine of Illinois Nut & Candy, Skokie, Ill., “I have to see it to know that I want it. It has to be something that hits me in the face. I go with my gut feeling. Will it sell, and will our customers want it?”

As they say, you’ve either got it or you don’t.

Editor’s Note: For more Buyer Views from ALL CANDY EXPO attendees (and new products to be displayed at the show), pick up Day One ofThe Dailyat McCormick Place on Tuesday, May 19.