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2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo highlights innovation, creativity among new product launches

Contact: Susan Whiteside

June 9, 2014

45 new confectionery and snack products across nine categories named Most Innovative New Products by the National Confectioners Association

WASHINGTON, DC – Last month at its annual Sweets & Snacks Expo, the National Confectioners Association bestowed 45 Most Innovative New Product Award nominations to companies showcasing imaginative ideas, concepts and products in two of the fastest growing categories in the marketplace: confectionery and snacks. Winners were chosen in each of the nine categories that comprise the $80 billion U.S. sweets and snacks industry.

“The Expo’s new product awards program demonstrates not only the outstanding innovation candy and snack makers apply to product development, but also sincere understanding of today’s consumer,” said Phil Lempert, food trends editor for NBC’s TODAY Show and panel moderator. “The program is one of the fastest-growing, most popular ones of its kind across a wide variety of consumer products with submissions up nearly 25 percent over last year.”

A panel of experts collaborated and taste-tested more than 280 product submissions to determine the final nominations. Attendees at NCA’s Sweets & Snacks Expo chose the winners from the list narrowed down by the panelists and also picked a product to be named “Best in Show”. 

Panel participants included the Food Network’s Iron Chef winner and restaurateur Homaro Cantu, the chef/owner of Charm City Cakes and star of the Food Network former hit series “Ace of Cakes” Duff Goldman, NPD Group trends expert Harry Balzer, Mariano’s Fresh Market registered dietician Peggy Balboa, and executives from some of the top retailers of candy and snack products in the U.S.

“New candy and snack items in 2013 alone were the leading source of growth for both categories,” commented NCA Executive Vice President Alison Bodor. “Together they delivered over 20 percent of center store growth, so these launches are critical to industry success.”

Included among the 2014 winners was the inaugural Best in Show prize, awarded to the product show attendees nominated as the best-of-the-best at the Expo. That honor was given to The Hershey Company’s York Minis, which both the panelists and attendees deemed most likely to succeed.

About the variety and diversity of products submitted for innovation awards this year, Expo Chairman Tim Quinn, vice president of trade relations at Mars Chocolate North America, said, “Once again we saw new trends emerge in the candy and snacks category, including exciting and wild flavor combinations as well as innovative twists on flavor favorites. There’s no other category where you’ll find Sriracha-flavored snacks next to a Guinness chocolate bar next to a snack featuring dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds.”

Nominees and winners in each category are as follows:

Chocolate winner:
The Chocolate Traveler – TABASCO Chocolate Bars
The Chocolate Traveler – TABASCO Chocolate Bars
The Hershey Company – York Minis
Kimmie Candy Company – Salted Caramel ChocoRocks
Mars Chocolate North America – Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road
Scho-ko-lade – Scho-ko-lade

Non-chocolate winner:
Jelly Belly Candy Company – Jelly Belly Draft Beer Jelly Beans
Just Born, Inc. – PEEPS Minis Sour  Watermelon Flavored Marshmallow
Candy Dynamics – Goop Gum Sour Liquid Filled Gum
Jelly Belly Candy Company – Jelly Belly Draft Beer Jelly Beans
Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa – Coffee Thins Peppermint
Hillside Candy – GoOrganic Fruit Chews

Sweet snacks winner:
Bare Snacks – Crunchy Coconut Chips “Show Me the Honey”
Bare Snacks – Crunchy Coconut Chips “Show Me the Honey”
Mars Chocolate North America – TWIX Bites Unwrapped
Stuff ‘n Mallows – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Stuffed Marshmallows
That’s How We Roll – Mrs. Thinsters Cookie Thins Brownie Batter
That’s How We Roll – Mrs. Thinsters Cookie Thins Chocolate Chip

Salty snacks winner:
Gourmet Basics – Slim Chips White Cheddar
Giant Snacks – Giant’s Sriracha Sunflower Seeds
Gourmet Basics – Slim Chips White Cheddar
Hardbite Chips – Hardbite Lightly Salted Parsnip Chips
Oberto Brands – Oberto Spicy Buffalo Style Chicken Strips
POP! Gourmet Popcorn – Fire Corn White Cheddar Jalapeno Popcorn

Savory snacks winner:
POP! Gourmet Popcorn – Sriracha Popcorn
Edward Marc Chocolatier – Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Snappers
Flamous Brands, Inc. – Flamous Spicy Fiesta Chips
Cheesewich – Cheesewich Colby Jack Cheese & Salami
Ripple Brand Collective – Bark Thins Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seeds
POP! Gourmet Popcorn – Sriracha Popcorn

Novelty/licensed winner:
Leaf Brands / Astro Pop, LLC – Sour Farts Flow Pack
Concord Confections, Inc. – Fizzers Fizzing Bubble Gum
Ford Gum & Machine Co., Inc. – Big League Chew Bubblegum Baseball
Ford Gum & Machine Co., Inc. – Flavor Ice Cherry Bubblegum filled with Blue-Raspberry Powder
Jelly Belly Candy Company – Jelly Belly Disney Princess Slipper
Leaf Brands / Astro Pop, LLC – Sour Farts Flow Pack

Seasonal winner:
Vigneri Chocolate – Doodle Egg
Atkinson Candy Company – Sophie Mae Gingerbread Pecan Brittle
Ferrara Candy Company – Brach’s Caramel Macchiato Candy Corn
Ferrara Candy Company – Brach’s Peppermint Crème Jelly Candy Canes
Just Born, Inc. – PEEPS Orange and Crème Flavored Marshmallow Chicks
Vigneri Chocolate – Doodle Egg

Gourmet/premium winner:
Ripple Brands Collective – Bark Thins Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconuts
Lir Chocolates – Guinness Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar
Hammond’s Candies – Hammond’s Whoopie Pie Chocolate Bar
Chuao Chocolatier – Oh My S’mores!
Chuao Chocolatier – Pretzel Toffee Twirl
Ripple Brands Collective – Bark Thins Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconuts

Gum & mints winner:
Project 7 – Project 7 Coconut Lime
The Hershey Company – Ice Breakers Cool Blasts Chews
Project 7 – Project 7 Coconut Lime
Vitaball, Inc. – Vitamingum Fresh Cinnamon
Wm. Wrigley Company – Altoids Arctic, Peppermint
Wm. Wrigley Company – Juicy Fruit Fruity Chews

“Kimmie Candy’s product innovation, like everyone’s, starts out as an idea, a hunch or a vision,” said Joe Dutra, president/CEO of Kimmie Candy Company, whose Salted Caramel ChocoRocks were a nominee in the popular chocolate category. “You hope the new product will meet market acceptance, but you’re not sure yet. The Most Innovative New Product Award nomination we received from the leaders in the retail industry showed us that this product has real potential in the market. Small companies need this accolade as motivation to keep moving forward.”

Recognition by NCA with a Most Innovative New Product Award does carry cache across the industry. In 2012, the panel nominated Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle in the sweet snacks category. At the time, according to company founder Sheila Mains, annual revenue was around $500,000 dollars. This year the company projects revenue in excess of $35 million. 

“Since the depth, breadth and diversity of overall panel feedback possesses decades of category experience, retail knowledge and consumer trends smarts, panel-selected products have all but a guarantee to become best sellers with shoppers in the coming year,” added Lempert.

The 2015 Most Innovative New Product Awards will be presented at next year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo to be held in Chicago, May 19 – 21, 2015. For more information, visit

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About the Sweets & Snacks Expo – Sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, the Sweets & Snacks Expo is the confectionery and snack industry’s most successful, world class event. It is unrivaled in new product launches, business building solutions and innovations in merchandising. More than 16,000 qualified professionals attend with global participation from 90 countries. More than 650 companies displaying 3.5 acres of candy and snacks products exhibited at the 18th annual Expo which is held each May at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

About the National Confectioners Association (NCA) – The National Confectioners Association fosters industry growth by advancing the interests of the confectionery industry and its customers. Serving as the voice of the industry, the Association advocates for the needs of the industry before government bodies, helps the industry understand and implement food safety and other regulations, provides information to help members strengthen their business in today’s competitive environment and creates relationships between all sectors of the industry including manufacturers, brokers, trade customers, suppliers to the industry and our consumers.