Trends in Sweets & Snacks 2011

As I said yesterday, I was in Chicago last week for the 15th Annual Sweets & Snacks Expo, which is sponsored by the National Confectioners Association and is the largest confectionery, cookie and snack show in the Americas. The Sweets & Snacks Expo is considered a harbinger of snack food trends to come, so I was thrilled to attend on behalf of Leaf Brands/Astro Pop, LLC, who, in addition to the family’s comeback in the candy biz, are also launching quite a few very innovative and fantastic products this year.

Despite the lagging economy, snacks and sweets experienced growth in 2010, as they’re considered affordable indulgences, and the show was quite indicative of this industry’s growth, occupying three acres of show space, with 14,000 attendees from 69 countries around the world, 550 exhibitors, and the debut of more than 2,000 new products. I was so excited to try and get a peek at all of the candy and snack launches for this year. A few of the new items that turned up on my radar include:

Well, of course, I have to talk about at least a couple of the products that Leaf Brands/Astro Pop, LLC are launching this year. Leaf, the family that brought you candy classics such as Whoppers®, Jolly Rancher®, Milk Duds®, RainBlo Bubble Gum®, Heath Bar® and PayDay® are officially back in the candy business, and made their official debut at the Expo. Members of the Leaf family have assembled together once again to revive the Leaf name and its famous image after the US division was sold to The Hershey Corporation in 1996 and left the United States.

The biggest buzz around the booth was for Farts Candy.™ A better version of Nerds, Farts candies are tiny, fruit-flavored nuggets or “poofs.” Unlike Nerds, Farts candies don’t have a crunchy shell, but are chewier and more flavorful. Plus, you can’t help but giggle and smile when you hear the name “Farts.” The final flavors will be packaged in 2.17-ounce packs and in four different varieties: Fruiti, Sour, Single Flavors, and Small Farts. “Small Farts” are itty-bitty candy pieces that are perfect as sprinkles for topping cakes, cupcakes, and ice cream. It was definitely a smile generator!

The other product launch that received a lot of attention was the launch of the original inventor of the Jelly Belly®, David’ Klein’s, collaboration with Leaf to launch the most exclusive line of jelly beans in the world, including the most expensive, 24-karat gold-leaf beans (which were protected by a guard the entire show). The new line, David’s Signature ‘Beyond Gourmet’ Jelly Beans,™ is the first confectionary product of its kind: blending exotic cuisine and luxury candy. The jelly beans are so delicious, they truly are gourmet.


Outside of the Leaf Booth, I really liked the Got Milk? Magic Milk Straws. This product was acknowledged as one of five products that earned the Buyers’ Choice honors at the show. The straws are filled with flavor beads like cocoa, cookies and cream, strawberry, or vanilla that instantly transform a regular glass of milk. A great way to get kids to drink their milk! The straws are also lactose and gluten free so anyone can have fun drinking their milk – whether it’s soy milk, rice milk or lactose free. Plus, no refrigeration is required, so you can pack Magic Milk Straws along with you anywhere. The product was also a winner at the National Restaurant Association Show in May.

Finally, Simply 7 Snacks showcased a range of Lentil and Hummus chips that not only taste good, but are also good for you! I could not get enough of the Hummus with Sea Salt chips (look at my very much eaten bag of chips below). It takes the main ingredient found in hummus – the chickpea – and bakes its flavors and nutrients into an all natural bite-sized chip. The Simply 7 core standards are: 1) 0 Grams Trans Fat and No Cholesterol, 2) No Artificial Colors or Flavors, 3) No Additives or Preservatives, 4) Gluten Free Ingredients, 5) All Natural Recipes, 6) Simple Ingredients, and 7) Simply Delicious. How can you not love a chip like that? Yummy!


Check out more photos from the Expo here, including my new collection of Hello Kitty Pez dispensers (how cute!):

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