Editor's note: This is the first in a short series of dispatches from Cybele May of Candy Blog. She'll be filing notes and observations from her time at the All Candy Expo in Chicago.
If there is such a thing as too much candy, I think I may have seen it this week at the All Candy Expo in Chicago. The show is not open to the public but as a member of the media I've been able to attend the past two shows. This year's was the biggest yet as they moved into an even bigger space at the new McCormick Place West (the area of 14 football fields) which featured 480 exhibitors.
New products are usually the most interesting and there were fantastic previews of items not yet on store shelves. But it's a crowded market already so it's unlikely that you may even see more than a handful of these 2,000 new introductions. A small fraction of the candies introduced stand the test of time. As a comparison, if you look at the list of top 10 candy bars, all are at least 25 years old. With that in mind, perhaps it's the spin-off that has the brand recognition is most likely to succeed.
I sampled a lot of candies and here are a few noteworthy ones:
Mars is bringing out a Limited Edition Java Twix bar that features a coffee flavored caramel and a chocolate cookie base in milk chocolate. It's a bit too much for me to eat the whole package, but I think I'd enjoy these as a miniature ... just a tiny pick me up. They'll be on store shelves in December.
Hershey's has been showing a lot of limited edition items, but this year is a new product called the Reese's Whipps. It's a core of fluffy peanut butter nougat with a little salty bite, a layer of crumbly and stiff peanut butter and then a layer of sweet mockolate. It could have been better quality, but the idea of a Peanut 3 Musketeers has always intrigued me.
Pop Rocks is introducing their first Pop Rocks Milk Chocolate bar. Instead of using cheap and waxy chocolate, they've gone for a high end, premium milk chocolate to make sure that this stands out from the competition.
Sconza's Toffee Almonds in 72% Dark Chocolate stand out from the crowded panned nut field. The chocolate is top rate but what sets them apart is that the almonds are lightly coated in a crisp and salty toffee first. Crunchy, salty, sweet and with the complex fruit notes of the dark chocolate make this an utterly satisfying treat.
Ferrara Pan has introduced a new chewy line to their classic Lemonheads and Atomic Fireballs. They've gone chewy. The Chewy Atomic Fireballs are a mini size (about the size of a pea) and so wonderfully spicy with a good hot kick throughout the chew, these may need to be put in pretty tins and sold for five times the price!
Peeps from Just Born are getting a new flavor added to their family. This year we'll see Peeps Peppermint Stars. That's right, a minty Peep that are the perfect size to drop in the top of your cup of hot cocoa.
The West Coast icon, the Rocky Road by Annabelle's is getting some upscale company with some new bars.The two I tried at the show were the Rocky Road Supreme Dark Chocolate Mocha and Rocky Road Supreme Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter. The Mocha bar was, well, supreme. Moist and fluffy marshmallow, not too sweet with a good touch of woodsy, roasted pecan notes for the coffee marshmallow all covered in a good dark chocolate.
It's a short list, but I still have a lot of tasting to do with the samples I tucked in my bags and haven't even unwrapped yet.
Will these products stand the test of time? I'll have to check back in a year. (For more of my daily show notes, check here at Candy Blog.)