Tag Archives: chocolate

Top 5 SWEET Treats from the Sweets and Snacks Expo (Part 2)

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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. SweetsShow

Chocolate is the centerpiece of the sweets part of the show.  And certainly by now we’ve seen every possible permutation of chocolate, no?

Shoes

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.

Awakezutaten_tin
energems

 

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.

store-supercandy-gummy_1 vitamincandy vitamingum

 

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.

eatwhatever

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.

ChocMoonshine

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.

MegaloadPic

Megaload Chocolates!

MegaM&Ms

 

 

Honorable mentions

–      Tabasco Chocolate – after chocolate with chiles and bacon, this was inevitable

Tabasco

Sugarpova candies – yes, this is Maria’s vanity candy.  And she’s got game here too.  Sometimes you just need a good angle.

sugarpova

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.

TicTacPersonalized

 

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!

JohnnyMoo

–       Tongue tattoos from Tungtoos – Definitely an innovation I didn’t see coming.  Why, you ask?  Because, as the old punchline goes, we can.

Tungtoos

Natural Products Expo West – My Top 10 Observations

Natural Products Expo West, just completed in Anaheim, bills itself as the largest natural and organic trade show in the world.  At 1 million+ square feet, almost 2500 exhibitors and 63,000 attendees, it is certainly large by any measure.  Having just finished walking most of those 1 million square feet, while my feet are temporarily elevated I have assembled an (unscientific) list of 10 noteworthy observations from the show (in no particular order).

NaturalProductsExpoWest

1) Gluten-Free – – sure, it’s been a reliable presence for years, but it now seems that every other product at the show carried a gluten-free claim.  For the most part, the products were delicious.  Clearly this trend is maturing nicely and is here to stay.

2) Kale!   Yes, kale.  In all of its green, seaweed-tasting glory, manifested in all manner of baked goods, chips, and more.  Let’s check back in about 3 years to see how this trend hangs in there.

3) Bars, bars, bars and more bars.  Energy, fruit equivalence, satiety, muscle-enhancing, alertness, virility – – you name it, there’s a bar for it.  Conservatively more than 100 entries.  The good news: most of them actually taste very good.  The bad news:  there’s not enough shelf space in the world for all of them to survive.

4) Jerky – long a pariah at natural foods (aka aspiring vegan) shows, the snacks-with-parents segment was alive and well at Expo West 2013.  Beef, turkey, chicken, bison, and many other animals as well as faux-meat soy product, this was a year where the trucker target was well-served.  A regular Von Dutch treat, if you will.

5) the non-GMO conversation – Whole Foods changed the conversation at Expo West.  By announcing its commitment to labelling all products that contain genetically modified organisms by 2018, WF elevated this topic from a subject you might bring up to show off your Euro-knowledge, to a regular (functional) water cooler staple.  Everyone was talking about it; this announcement could be the tipping point in establishing non-GMO as a mainstream desired consumer benefit.

6) fewer ‘free from’ claims – with the obvious exception of non-GMO, there didn’t seem to be as many ‘free from’ or ‘less’ (fat, calories, sugar, etc) claims.  Instead, it was all about what was in the foods – – whether protein, antioxidants, minerals, or any of a lot of other things.

7) Chips – apparently, at this show if a food was left unattended, someone came along and zapped it with the chip gun.  How many things can you make into a chip?  In addition to the now-mainstream PopChips, there were also falafel chips, pineapple coconut chips, chia chips, cookie chips, spinach chips, lentil chips, and yes, Virginia, there are kale chips too — lots of them.

8) High-end chocolates – – right up there in abundance with chips and nutrition bars, it seemed that every time you turned around, some smiling young person was shoving a piece of $7/bar chocolate in your face (which of course, you were too polite to refuse).  The venerable gourmet segment pioneered by the likes of Lindt, now goes for $2-3/oz (and more) after being reinvented about 10 years ago with the unique entries from companies like Vosges (e.g. bacon, chile inclusions) and competitors have been piling in ever since.  Mostly excellent products; again the sad part is that not all will survive.

9) Raw foods – this is an increasingly common theme for many new natural/organic products (and companies); it’s about foods that are the ultimate in closeness to nature – – unprocessed and uncooked.  In a variety of different products – -and candidly there were a few I’m not sure I’d ingest before a 4 hour flight.  The concept was really brought to life for me when a spokesperson for a nut and seed bar (with raw chia seeds!) explained that if he unwrapped his bar and planted it, it would grow.  And all those childhood fears of orange trees growing in my stomach suddenly came rushing back.

10) Naturally enhanced – – I’m talking about the incredible variety of beverages (and just maybe also about some of the attendees).  In a continuing crusade to provide the world with healthier and perhaps more politically correct alternatives to sugar/HFCS-sweetened drinks, Expo West really came through.  Coconut or oatmeal (or chia) based, probiotic, macrobiotic, kombucha, it goes on and on and on – and this doesn’t even include the supplements.  Yowza.

The only downside to the show was the sheer number, depth and quality of displays.  Would have loved another few days – well, there’s always next year.