Last in a series: Here are the Top 5 Cool Sweets products I observed at the 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo. (previously I reported on the Top 5 Snacks, available here.) As always, all links and photos are active.
Chocolate is the centerpiece of the sweets part of the show. And certainly by now we’ve seen every possible permutation of chocolate, no?
No. Among a few evolving trends: (thin ‘bark’-like chocolate products and ‘minis’, smaller versions of mainstream products) there were some exciting new products.
Top 5 Sweets Products
1. Energy chocolate – Awake, Scho-ko-lade, energems
As you may know, chocolate already has some caffeine – about 12mg/oz typically. These caffeinated chocolates think you need more. Awake has about 66/oz; 101 for a 1.55oz bar. Scho-ko-lade is a 100 year old German formula that combines the caffeine from chocolate, coffee and the kola nut to deliver 95 grams for 6 sections (about as much as what’s in 8 oz of coffee). And it comes in a nifty round tin as well. Energems takes a different approach, calling itself a nutritional supplement and puts 15mg of caffeine in each stylish round candy.
– They all taste great and are an excellent excuse to work chocolate into your breakfast routine.
2. Vitamin candy – Supercandy, Vitamingum, Vitamincandy
One thing the world didn’t think it needed is candy that is good for you. All the company officials I spoke with were quick to mention that these are not supposed to replace sensible eating, but “as long as you’re having candy, why not have some vitamins as well” seems to be the prevailing rationale. We are one very messed up species. – at any rate, there were some tasty examples.
Supercandy comes in hard, gummy and gum forms and promises B-vitamins, antioxidants and electrolytes. Vitamincandy comes in 6 flavors and most offer a small dose of Vitamin C. Vitamingum Fresh offers ‘Fresh Breath and 12 Essential Vitamins’.
– Ultimately, though, if you really feel you need to supplement your diet with vitamins, a pill is probably a more practical delivery system.
3. High-tech breath mints – EatWhatever
Perhaps inspired by 2-part epoxy resins, the folks at EatWhatever believe in “Two Steps to kissable breath”. In this case, there are two pills – a gelcap that you swallow after a meal (“especially with smelly garlic or onion”), and while it’s de-funking you from the inside there’s also a mint to suck on for instant hit of date-saving fresh breath.
The mint tasted good (like most mints) but I only tried it once and can’t testify to the effectiveness of the 2-part system. But they claim it works great – – you will just need to be clever to discreetly deploy this system in a date situation.
4. New chocolate shapes – Chocolate Moonshine hand painted artisan fudge bars
Just when you thought there’s nothing new, you run across the booth of the Chocolate Moonshine Company of Pittsburgh. 33 flavors, gorgeous presentation, and absolutely terrific fudge. A bit pricey at $2/bar, but these are an innovative approach to an old product and are a great indulgence (especially if one of the 33 available flavors matches your team colors), and an even better gift.
5. MEGA candies – more of what you already get too much of
Finally, the good old American approach of “if I can’t give you something new, I’ll give you more of the old stuff”.
MEGA products are basically pumped up versions of old favorites, with absolutely no nod to nutritional benefits, GMO-free, added vitamins or any of that stuff. If many of today’s new candy products are sensible like a Camry, these Mega products are 1960s V-8 powered muscle cars.
NY-based Megaload Chocolates sells all sorts of weird combinations that you might dream up on a sugar high: Oreos sitting on peanut butter cups like the Space Shuttle on a 747, or topped with a chocolate chip cookie. They may need to create one topped with a little insulin packet.
M&Ms MEGAs are comparatively tame, but prove that size matters in the chocolate world. Same concept, just 3x the size you’re used to. And the large size is surprisingly satisfying in your mouth.
– Tabasco Chocolate – after chocolate with chiles and bacon, this was inevitable
– Sugarpova candies – yes, this is Maria’s vanity candy. And she’s got game here too. Sometimes you just need a good angle.
– Customization (TicTacs) – the only line at the show was for making your very own custom TicTac blend. Surprised there wasn’t more of this sort of personalization. There will be.
– Milk Flavoring Pods from JohnnyMoo. It’s a version of a flavored milk straw that has taken two giant steps forward technologically and now looks a little like your very own Space Needle. But much better tasting. Fun!
– Tongue tattoos from Tungtoos – Definitely an innovation I didn’t see coming. Why, you ask? Because, as the old punchline goes, we can.