By Bernard Pacyniak
Editor-in-Chief
Candy Industry

getting fresh: Speaking of healthier

As I opened the Chicago Tribune this morning, there were a slew of headlines that caught my eye. First, of course, was the ongoing debate about passage of America’s health care reform bill – you know, the one that expands coverage, trims waste and increases taxes (for some).

The second headline involved changes in lunches being served in Chicago’s public schools. Word is that nachos and doughnuts will no longer be daily menu choices in school cafeterias.

But it was the third headline, “Is ‘organic’ food healthier?” that pulled me in. After reading all three articles, I thought I’d tackle all three topics for this week’s column, pretending to be a Fox newscaster with clever sound bites here and there.

But we “old school” print boys really prefer actual thought and reflection when disseminating something out to the public. And given that our newsletter was actually originally conceived to address candymakers involved in organic, functional and natural products – we take a broader view these days, mind you – I opted to zero-in on whether organic foods and organic sweets are healthier for you.

In doing so, I subconsciously knew that this was a teaser headline, somewhat less lurid than aliens abducting Joe Q. Public, but certainly as masterful in getting you to turn to that page.

Thankfully, the article written by columnist Julie Deadorff refuses to be fanatical in answering the question. As she points out, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the nation’s National Organic Programs, defines organic as a production philosophy.

You can get the specifics from the USDA, but a simple version of what’s involved in organic farming is that the land and crops are free from artificial fertilizers, pesticides and preservatives. Regardless of how the USDA defines organic, the perception amongst many consumers – and one that’s fueled the growth of the industry – is that eating organic foods is healthier for you. Mind you, most recent scientific studies, as Deardorff reports, have not been able to confirm the notion that organic foods are actually healthier.

But then I hear many of you saying, anything without artificial preservatives, colors, enhancers, etc. must be better for you, right? Not necessarily, Deardorff writes. “Experts say pesticide residues pose only small health risk.” Those experts again.

So what about folks who use organic methods, but don’t bother with certification? All-natural works for them, minus the cost and expense of certification. Are they truly less healthy?

Perhaps organic products taste better? Again, mixed results here. I haven’t been convinced by my brother-in-law that organic eggs taste better than non-organic eggs, but there are many that swear by it. I suppose it’s a personal organoleptic issue.

Moreover, where does that leave organic sweets? Are they healthier for you, or should we lump those as some states have (mine included) into the taxable “bad foods” pile?

To me, organic represents a complex consumer choice, one that focuses on supporting local and global farmers, encourages a greener lifestyle, and recognizes social and community responsibility as well as a foodie mindset. Oh yes, it also typically reflects a higher income base, as well.

Are kosher foods healthier for you? Not sure, but the labeling connotes higher quality. Does organic do the same, but in a less processed light? I believe it does.

Down the road, we may find that organic foods do deliver health benefits over non-organic. In the interim, however, I would not beat that drum. There are too many other positives associated with organic to risk that rallying call.

With more and more consumers embracing locavore options and searching for minimally processed foods, I believe organic can stand on its own without having to resort to snake oil tactics. Make it taste good, and candy lovers will buy organic sweets. Simple as that.

American Licorice Co. asks consumers to 'Punch Up the Video'

Consumers of American Licorice Co.’s Sour Punch brand products now can “Punch Up the Video” in a new contest at www.sourpunch.com. Contestants are asked to create parodies of their favorite TV shows and movies by recreating a scene and incorporating Sour Punch into the dialogue or action.

Developed by Big Rig Interactive, a division of DMI Music & Media Solutions, the video contest adds another layer to the interactive elements on the Sour Punch Web site, where registered visitors can play games, watch videos and download wallpapers in order to earn points and prizes.

“We’ve always felt that the funny and quirky videos our customers have made are the best representation of the Sour Punch brand,” explains Mariam Worsham, brand portfolio manager for Bend, Ore.-based American Licorice Co.

Video submissions are limited to three minutes in length. One winner will be selected each week based on a combination of creativity and public votes/views, and receive a $100 Visa gift card. At the end of the contest submission period on July 25, one weekly winner will be selected for the Grand Prize: a Flip HD Ultra Video Camcorder and $1,500 Visa gift card. There is no limit to the number of videos an entrant can submit.

3 MUSKETEERS announces celebrity launch of new Truffle Crisp Bar

3 MUSKETEERS has teamed up with E! News host Giuliana Rancic to celebrate the launch of the new 3 MUSKETEERS Truffle Crisp Bar. From wearing and reviewing designer fashions and dining at Los Angeles hotspots to interviewing Hollywood’s hottest celebrities both on and off the red carpet, Rancic knows the rich life well and will share her experiences during an exclusive lunch in Los Angeles with one lucky fan.

“I am excited about my partnership with 3 MUSKETEERS and the opportunity to enjoy an afternoon with a fan,” Rancic says. “Since the 3 MUSKETEERS Truffle Crisp Bar is rich enough to share, but you really won’t want to, I would rather share my experiences as an entertainment reporter than my Truffle Crisp and am looking forward to hearing what others would rather share.”

Between now and April 23, consumers age 18 and older can visit www.facebook.com/3musketeers, click on the contest tab and detail in 25 words or less “What would you rather share than a 3 MUSKETEERS Truffle Crisp Bar?” the most creative and entertaining submission will win.

The 3 MUSKETEERS Truffle Crisp Bar officially launched last month. It contains a rich truffle atop a subtle airy crisp layer of meringue enrobed in chocolate. Truffle Crisps are available in convenient two-piece single-serve packs.

For more information, visit www.3musketeers.com.

Fun Sweets adds banana flavor to cotton candy product lineup

New for 2010, Fun Sweets, West Palm Beach, Fla., has added a new banana-flavored cotton candy to its lineup. Other available varieties are cherry berry, blue raspberry and sour apple; it also comes in seasonal offerings.

Each translucent tub of Fun Sweets cotton candy incorporates the same freshness seal technology used by the dairy industry to protect packaged yogurt. The suggested retail price is $1.69 per container.

Retailers interested in carrying the product can call 1-954-649-1286. For more information about Fun Sweets, visit www.funsweets.net.




Dylan's Candy Bar hosts 'Happy' anniversary in New York City

Cartoonist Jim Benton’s beloved It’s Happy Bunny character – the cute little bunny with the BIG attitude – will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a special celebration and promotion at Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York City.

On June 26, Benton will join the retailer’s ceo and founder, Dylan Lauren, at the flagship store on Third Ave. There, exclusive new artwork featuring It’s Happy Bunny will appear on candies, chocolates, cookies, apparel, accessories, plush, stationery, social expressions and other products created especially for Dylan’s Candy Bar. These products will be available at all five Dylan’s Candy Bar stores as well as select retailers where Dylan’s Candy Bar products are sold around the world.

For more information, visit www.itshappybunnybooks.com, www.jimbenton.com and www.dylanscandybar.com.

sweet of the week: Broncolin Drops

Broncolin Drops With Bee Honey and Plant Extracts temporarily relieve sore throat and cough while refreshing breath. Made with natural ingredients such as hedera helix, eucalyptus, echinacea, propolis, elderberry, gordolobo and mint, Broncolin Drops come in easy-to-open blister packs. Retailers interested in carrying the product can call +52 55 5700 4580.

For more information about Mexico-based Broncolin, the maker of Broncolin Drops, visit www.broncolin.com.