With Halloween right around the corner, I wanted to write about sweets & snacks trends that I observed at this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo (popularly known as The Candy Show) that took place in May at Chicago’s McCormick Place. The trade show organized by the National Confectioners Association hosted over 800 companies offering candy, chocolate, and snacks. The trends I observed: nut butters, keto friendly, flavor duos, superfoods (cauliflower, mushrooms, and superfruits), and low sugar.
Childhood lunch favorite peanut butter is expanding into the chocolate and snacks aisles. At the show, The J.M. Smucker Company launched Jif Power Ups granola bars and soft baked bars with peanuts as the first ingredient. You may remember the slogan, “choosy moms choose Jif” peanut butter. The Hershey Company relaunched its Take5 bar as Reese’s Take 5 so that consumers know that peanut butter is one of the five layers in the bar – pretzels, caramel, peanut butter, peanuts, and chocolate. Mars Wrigley offered up its new Creamy Snickers bars with Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, and Maple Almond Butter. The creamy nut butters replace the peanuts in the classic Snickers bar. On the gourmet end, ChocXO Chocolatier combined peanut butter with ruby cacao (a chocolate with fruity notes developed by Barry Callebaut) in its PB & Ruby cups. Peanut puffs were offered by Galil Foods, Perfect Life Nutrition, and popchips Inc. All three companies tout protein (from 3.5 to 5g per bag) on the front of the packs while Perfect Life Nutrition states that is a good source of fiber (3g per 1 oz bag) due to its use of navy beans. Justin’s, known for its almond butters, introduced Almond Butter Covered Cashews and Cashew Butter Covered Cashews at the show. They are not in the photo because I did not receive a sample.
The Keto diet remains a favorite of dieters and keto friendly snack options were plentiful at the show. Dang Foods Company offered its dang bars. The Cardamom Chai dang bar is a 100% plant-based bar with 3g sugar, 5g net carbs, and 9g protein. Fat Snax’s Double Chocolate Chip Cookies are low-carb, sugar-free, and keto with 0g sugar, 2g net carbs, and 2g protein. The Good Fat Co offered a range of keto friendly bars including a plant-based option. Its rich chocolatey almond bar contains 2g sugar, 14g fats, and 9g protein. Krisp Nutrition’s Keto Krisp bars contain 5 net carbs, 10g protein, 2g sugar, 10g fiber, and MCT oil.
Double the Flavors
More the merrier is the thinking behind sugar confectionery and chocolates that combine two flavors in one. The Hershey Company’s KitKat Duos combine Mint + Dark Chocolate Candies for a minty and crispy experience. Duoz from Endangered Species Chocolate offers 2 flavors side by side such as Cinnamon Caramel + Coffee Caramel. The Duoz are patent-pending, with the company donating 10 percent of net profits to save wildlife. Mars Wrigley’s Starburst Duos Fruit Chews combine two flavors (blue raspberry + lemonade, strawberry + watermelon) in one chew. Sour Patch Kids Heads from Mondelez Global offer 2 flavors in 1 soft & chewy candy that is 2x bigger than original Sour Patch Kids. The 2 in 1 flavor combos are pink lemonade + blue raspberry, pineapple + redberry, and peach + orange. Jelly Belly’s new Recipe Mix features two flavors in every bean. Fini Sweets Inc’s Fini Flip it! offers sweet and sour varieties in one bag. The unique packaging provides two pouches inside one bag. The Fini Flip it! Cinema Mix + Sour Little Mix features Cinema Mix on one side and Sour Little Mix on the other side. The two candy mixes do not touch each other because there is a plastic divider in the middle.
Cauliflower, dragon fruit, and mushrooms were some of the key “superfoods” highlighted at the show. The inclusion of cauliflower is aimed at healthy snackers as the high-fiber vegetable is being transformed into healthier pizza crusts and into “rice”. Earthly Treats, Inc offered From The Ground Up Cauliflower Pretzels made with cassava flour, cauliflower flour, and a vegetable blend powder (spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, beets and shitake mushrooms). BFY Brands offered Popcorners Flourish Lightly Salted Veggie Crisps with Toasted Cauliflower with Chickpeas, Rice & Yellow Peas. they are high in protein, high in fiber, gluten free, low in fat, low in sugar, and vegan. Dragonfruit was featured by EVOLVE Brands in its Supernola (chewy clusters of seeds, tree nuts, and energizing superfoods) in a Dragonfruit Lemon Zest variety. The Asian superfruit made its appearance in HI-CHEW candies from Morinaga America, Inc. Tru Fru, LLC featured raspberries that have been picked ripe, frozen fresh, and then freeze-dried before being immersed in dark chocolate. Deebee’s Organics provided a healthy kids snack with its Superfruit Freezies that are USDA Certified Organic and contain organic passionfruit juice concentrate and organic mango puree. Ziba Foods LLC offered Ziba Afghan Dried White Hindu Kush Mulberries that are sustainably sourced, an heirloom superfood, and nutrient dense. The harvest and export of the white mulberries are dedicated to improving the lives of women and farmers in Afghanisan. Mushrooms were transformed into both jerky and snack bar formats by Shrooms Snacks. The Shrooms Bars feature white mushrooms and crimini mushrooms alongside pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, yellow roasted chickpeas, white quinoa puffs, and brown flaxseeds.
Many consumers want to reduce sugar consumption while still enjoying candies and chocolates. A number of companies offered low sugar options at the show. Lily’s, one of the best known companies in the low sugar chocolate space, showcased their Milk Chocolate Style Peanut Butter Cups and Extra Dark Chocolate that are sweetened with stevia extract and erythritol. SMARTSWEETS INC offered up its stevia leaf extract-sweetened SMARTSWEETS Gummy Bears and new Peach Rings with 3g of sugar per 1.8 oz bag. The SMARTSWEETS are also high in fiber, with 28g of dietary fiber from prebiotic soluble fiber from tapioca and chicory root fiber. Ross Chocolates launched a Dark Chocolate Bar that is sugar free, sweetened with stevia extract and erythritol, and no maltitol that is diabetic friendly and keto diet friendly. Chocolette S.A. offered its RED Delight & Delicious Milk Chocolate Hazelnut & Macadamia bar with no sugar added and 35% less calories than regular milk chocolate with nuts. The RED bar is sweetened with erythritol, stevia extract, and polydextrose. SkinnyMe Chocolate’s Sugar Free Belgian Chocolate Mint variety is sweetend with erythritol and stevia extract.