Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sweets and Snacks Expo 2016

Just some of the brands represented at
Sweets and Snacks Expo.
Last week I made my annual trek to the Sweets and Snacks Expo.  It's not as far as it seems, as they hold it in Chicago every year, and so maybe it's about 10 miles door to door.

Since I discovered that it was happening in Chicago,  I like to go to the Sweets and Snacks Expo every year because:

a) This is where I find out about great new snacks and sweets to write about
b) I like to marvel at the creativity of food entrepreneurs, especially smaller companies.
c) I'm hoping to win fabulous prizes, and maybe find somebody to become a candy blog ambassador.
d) The bag of loot I am allowed to bring home which makes my wife, my child, and his friends think I am a demigod.
e) The innovative jerky, man. It's all about the jerky.

I did all of the above this past weekend.  Whether or not I found a sponsor will remain to be seen, but I ate my fair share of jerky, candy, salty treats, and stuff that my dentist would approve of (because her kid is entering graduate school)

The phenomenal amounts of trendiness and innovation that are on display each year are amazing to me.

This show is not open to the public, only to vendors and journalists, and going to shows like this is one of the reasons I love writing my blog!  I get to find out all in one place what new and tasty treats will be all over supermarkets, convenience stores, and vending machines next year. Some of these will take the world by storm, and others not so much.  Still it's fascinating to see.

Here's some of the small bounty that I discovered this year.  And these and hopefully many of the other brands I interacted with will be on my blog over the next year,

Each year, they have new costumed characters for people to interact with.

Here I am interacting with two old friends.  Mr Peanut and the Bit O Honey Bee.
Both of these are favorite snacks, so I, of course, took the opportunity to hang with them while I could.


I always like to see how brands are appealing to kids.  Sometimes it's crazy characters, sometimes its unique selling forms (like the Toxic Waste Slime Licker) and sometimes its both. Check out the Volcano popping candy, which is a new take on PopRocks.  A new generation of kids will be making up stories about what happens if you eat this and drink soda at the same time. Also, I liked the make your own lollipop kit, which involves beading, decorating, and eating.  You CAN play with your food!

I also want to take a moment to shout out Yowie candies, which did something that I've been wondering why nobody has ever done before- produced legal Kinder-style eggs with toys inside.  Kinder eggs are not legal in the states because the toy inside doesn't pass stringent child safety inspections.  Yowie made their egg large enough to incorporate a toy that can't be swallowed, and in addition made them about extinct animal species.  The toy is great, the chocolate is good, and the concept is terrific.  (Not only that, but they are sold in Walmart!)


Each year, the molds get more realistic and more intricate.  Santa and the Easter Bunny (not to mention the delectable Diva on the right) never looked more delicious!  And don't worry ladies, there's some chocolate beefcake for you too.  (Fortunately, it does not come in Chocolate beefcake flavor)

New flavors keep coming into favor each year.  I'd never seen Babyback ribs chips or licorice dipped in a chocolatey coating (also caramel or vanilla)  Both were pretty delicious!

Each year, I am always seeing more and more forays into "Good For You Snacks"  These are surprisingly tasty.  I don't even like beets, but the Drop'n Mad Beets (which might also win for best title of a product) was good.  (My wife when she reads this will be amazed.  I am about as anti-beet as one can get.  For my blog, anything!)  The dried apricots were direct from Turkey, and really delicious!

The last image I'll leave you with is one of my favorite and hard to find candies-- the licorice centered caramel cream from Goetze.  Imagine my joy when I found a little barrel of this stuff, told the guy it was one of my favorites, and the guy said "Take as many as you need!"  

I nearly started crying!

By next year, my stash will be gone, and I'll be ready to stock up again!

The Sweets and Snacks Expo is put on by the National Confectioner's Association,  the leading association for the $35 billion U.S. confectionery industry. NCA's goal is to advocate for the industry, advance it, and to educate the public to help ensure that it understands and appreciates the unique role that chocolate and candy can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle.

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