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The annual Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago is always a highlight of my trade show attendance, with so many delicious and innovative products on display – and much of it aimed at the candy and snack aisles in grocery’s center store.
Allow me to present a brief stroll through my day at the show, culled from my live tweets (@jimdudlicek) and observations as I walked the expo floor last month:
- Hershey's displayed a host of new products, including its new line of chocolate spreads, to be followed up later this year with Reese's chocolate/peanut butter spread; Ice Breakers Cool Blasts, a range of high-powered chewable mints that dissolve in seconds; and the triumphant return of longtime Miniatures favorite Krackel to a full-size bar of milk chocolate and crisped rice.
- Mars' booth featured, among other things, its Dove brand's new range of whole fruits enrobed in dark chocolate (cherries, cranberries and blueberries); the giant M&M's Mega; Twix, 3 Musketeers and Milky Way Simply Caramel Unwrapped Bites; and the Snickers Rockin' Nut Road bar.
- Jelly Belly wowed show-goers with its new Draft Beer-flavored jelly beans. They were a bit too yeasty for my taste, but they’re sure to be a hit among the brand’s devoted followers.
- One of my favorite candy makers, Hammond’s out of Denver, launched a line of Peanut Brittle Crisps in unique flavor combinations, including the sweet-savory Jalapeno Lime.
- The Stronger bar from NuGo delivers an energy boost with 25 grams of protein, along with a promise of no gluten, maltitol or GMOs.
- Sheila G’s wildly successful Brownie Brittle is sporting sophisticated new packaging and 120-calorie single-serve pouches.
- With a better-for-you mission statement, Innovative Candy Concepts sampled its line of sugar-free liquid chocolate.
- The folks at Just Born showed off their new Peep Minis, along with a range of products co-branded with the kid-favorite Minion animated characters.
- Holiday candy mainstay R.M. Palmer had its annual rollout of seasonal items, including the Color-Me Cottontail, co-branded with Crayola Crayons.
- Nestle was hawking the incremental-sales success of its new Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups, which delivers on the flavor profile of the iconic candy with a shape, taste and texture that sets it apart from competing cups.
- Koochikoo samples its line of very tasty sugar-free cookies, sweetened with monk fruit.
- A supplier to Starbucks, Donsuemor, showed off its branded line of biscotti, mini cakes and other sweet goods.
- American Licorice, maker of the popular Red Vines, displayed two line-extending products: Fruit Vines and Sour Punch Bites.
This is but a glimpse at the bounty of fun and exciting products on display at this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo. But it’s proof positive that, contrary to popular belief, there is some fun and excitement in center store.