Thursday, June 29, 2017

Spicy Flavors at the 2017 Sweets & Snacks Expo

I attended the Sweets & Snacks Expo which was held May 23-25 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. The trade show organized by the National Confectioners Association hosted over 800 exhibitors representing candy, chocolate, and snacks companies. In this article, I will talk about how candy and snack companies are injecting spicy flavors into their products. Other articles will highlight the following trends in snacking that I saw at the show – coffee meets chocolate, chickpeas and lentils in the snack aisle; meat snacks offer breakfast, gourmet, and kosher options; and popcorn appeals to both health and indulgence seekers.

Spicy flavors such sriracha and chili, habanero, jalapeno, and serrano peppers featured in many candies and snacks seen at the show. Most of the spicy products offered a mild to medium heat level, unlike the famously fiery Paqui Haunted Ghost Pepper tortilla chips from Amplify Snack Brands, Inc. Sriracha hot sauce’s growing popularity has moved it beyond Asian restaurant tables to savory snacks, candies, and even nut butters. Pop! Gourmet Foods offered The Original Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce Kettle Cooked Potato Chips that has been created in partnership with Huy Fong Foods, the producer of the original Sriracha Chili Sauce.

The sriracha flavor notes of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt are increasingly being combined with other flavors such as honey and fruits. Hippeas Organic Chickpea Puffs offered a Sriracha Sunshine flavor variety at the show while Think Jerky offered Sriracha Honey Free-Range Turkey Jerky. Koko’s Confectionery & Novelty, owned by A&A Global Industries, Inc., offered the youth-targeted Sweet Fire sriracha candy line that includes cotton candy, gumballs, and popping candy (with a strawberry lollipop). For active, health conscious consumers, snack bar maker PROBAR LLC offered PROBAR Organic Sriracha Peanut Butter Blend made with organic peanuts, coconut oil, vinegar, and pineapple in single-serve 1.15oz squeeze packs for on-the-go snacking.

Beyond sriracha, companies are combining the taste of sweet fruit with spicy notes to appeal to young consumers. Impact Confections Inc is known for its WARHEADS Extreme Sour Hard Candy products. At the show, the company introduced HOTHEADS Extreme Heat Worms to offer a multi-layered flavor experience of puckering sour, sweet fruit, and fiery heat. American Licorice Company extended its Sour Punch brand with new Sour Punch Pineapple Mango Chili Straws. Use of spicy fruity flavors is not limited to small and medium size companies. Wrigley extended its fruit flavored Skittles and Starburst lines with Skittles and Starburst Sweet Heat that combine “fruity flavors with a spicy kick”. Starburst Sweet Heat will feature Fiery Watermelon, Strawberry Mango, Flamin’ Orange and Pipin’ Pineapple.


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