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Kids are so awesome. Aside from the fact that being around them seems to make everything more fun, they also love sugar almost as much as I do — making them the perfect test audience for all the delightfully delicious confections previewed at the ECRM Candy Planning: Christmas and Halloween in Denver last week.
This marked my third time helping to lead a Kid’s Choice Awards during an ECRM event, and they seriously just keep getting more fun every year.
This year the Denver Boys and Girls Club showed up with about 40 kids age 7-14, and we split them into four groups, each of which got their own circular table in a banquet style dining room.
The fantastic Print Cates, v.p. of product management at J. Sosnick & Son, donned a large, royal purple Willy Wonka hat, and explained to the children that they were going to have the chance to be official candy buyers — sampling all the different types of confections just like the professionals do (complete with the sugar highs, sugar lows and post-sugar stomach aches), and then choosing their favorites.
Each kid received an official candy buyer badge, a cup of water and set about the task at hand — eating tons and tons of delicious candy and then picking their favorite chocolate, non-chocolate and novelty treat.
For each category, they were handed a white bag containing one of each item in the running for that particular award, and told to choose their favorite. Once they voted, they got the next bag for the next category.
Then, after all the ballots were collected, and the sugar highs had worn off, we counted the votes and named the winners.
Best New Novelty: WARHEADS Sour Dippin’ Pucker Packs
One of my all-time favorite treats as a child was Fun Dip.
The candy stick was meal unto itself, but I would none-the-less attempt to eat the treat the “correct” way at first — dipping the white hard candy stick into the powdered confectioner and then turning my tongue blue as I licked off the flavor. I’d usually last about 30 seconds before I’d bite into the candy stick and then proceed to dip my index finger into the sugary packet, turning my hand the same color as my tongue.
The candy was more than just a delicious treat — it was an experience.
And so, it’s a wonder it took the world so long to create a sour version.
TheWARHEADS Sour Dippin’ Pucker Packs are made by an entirely different company (Impact Confections), but they are the same basic concept, only with more pucker per pack. In other words, they’re amazing. Plus, not only was this voted best new novelty candy by the Denver Boys and Girls Club, it also won the best overall candy by a very experienced confectionery taster — my 14-year-old sister Monica.
Best New Non-Chocolate: Candy Crush Sugar Crush by Healthy Food Brands
Candy Crushis so popular, that pretty much anything donning the game’s logo is bound to sell at least once. The hard part is making something that’s based on the game AND delicious. As the kids can attest, Healthy Food Brands has obviously succeeded.
This newest line extension Candy Crush Sugar Crush combine the best of everyone’s favorite packet candies — a mix of treats inspired by Nerds and Pop Rocks. The confection gives your mouth so much joy, you’ll remember why you started playing the crazy addictive Candy Crush game in the first place — all that candy.
Best New Chocolate: Hand Crafted Marshmallow Dipped in Chocolate by G. Debbas
Marshmallow candy can be so hit or miss. It’s hard to get transport that fluffy, ooey-gooey fresh taste that’s created when the marshmallows are hot, right off the line. But, when confectioners achieve it, it’s totally worth the effort.
G. Debbas not only manages to do that, the candy maker also has dipped them in a luscious chocolate, covered them in sprinkles and put them on a stick — officially creating the most decadent lollipop ever. Yay!
Candy Industry would like to thank all the confectionery companies that participated! The Boys and Girls club thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and as one kid told me, we really do have “the luckiest job ever.” And, congratulations to all the winners!
Be sure to check out our full coverage of the ECRM show in our April issue!