getting fresh: Morning wakeup callAlthough I consider myself a morning person, 8 a.m. sessions at conference get-togethers have never been a favorite. But duty calls, so this half-awake editor made it over to McCormick Place West here in Chicago to attend Tuesday’s “Newest Products -- Hottest Trends!” session at the Sweets & Snacks Expo.
Tom Joyce of The Hershey Company, which sponsored the well-attended presentation, introduced moderator Lisa Bodell, ceo of futurethink -- a futurist who specializes in stimulating innovation. Bodell, in turn, asked her team of panelists to tell the audience who they are and what they do, but via images.
Each speaker -- Michele Bowman, co-founder of AndSpace Consulting; Lynn Dornblaser, director of CPG Trend Insights at Mintel; and Kim Moldofsky, blogger and founder of MomImpact.com -- displayed quite a bit of creativity in explaining their psyches and professions, everything from a raw chicken atop a mail box to a toilet snapshot.
The ladies all had interesting takes on what’s driving product development in the confectionery industry, but I liked Dornblaser’s summation of the three key influences in snacking today: value, simplicity and health.
And while that’s nothing new to most of you tracking trends, how candy companies are executing these concepts is what’s interesting.
To wit, all the ladies revealed their favorite new products introduced at the show, which ranged from Pretzel M&M’S and Jim Beam steak strips to Gimbal’s Honey Lovers Fruit Chews and Vitamin Gum.
As our economy struggles to return to normalcy, consumers are looking for products that deliver comfort, convenience and charm. What I’m seeing so far at the show indicates the industry has done its homework and is doing just that.
getting fresh: Unwrapping the Sweets & Snacks ExpoIn my oft-mentioned former life as a home furnishing editor, I had the pleasure of meeting the occasional (random) celebrity. They included supermodel Kathy Ireland (with whom I had lunch), “angel” Jaclyn Smith (with whom I talked colleges for her daughter), “Grizzly Adams” star Dan Haggerty (with whom I shared childhood memories of watching his show), and assorted HGTV and TLC hosts. (I also stood THIS CLOSE to Martha Stewart once, but missed out on an introduction. Sigh …)
On Opening Day of the 2010 Sweets & Snacks Expo, I added one more celebrity to the list: Marc Summers, host of the über-popular TV show “Unwrapped.”
The day before addressing show attendees at a keynote session on how to intrigue consumers with new products, Summers spent some time with media types like myself at a preliminary meet-and-greet. There, he discussed the events that led up to his involvement in one of the Food Network’s most successful programs and shared some of his best-loved confections, among other items of interest. (For instance, Summers regularly rubs elbows with Food Network chefs Paula Deen, Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse, calling them some of the nicest people he’s ever worked with.)
Interestingly, Summers pointed out that although only 30% of all “Unwrapped” episodes have to do with candy, they are among the most watched. The show, now in its tenth season, airs on Monday nights, but offers reruns both new and old all week long. Summers also contributes to other Food Network programs, including “Ultimate Recipe Showdown” and “Dinner: Impossible.”
Little-known facts: Once upon a time, Summers hosted Nickelodeon’s kid-centric, slime-time game show, “Double Dare.” In addition, he penned a book about obsessive compulsive disorder that landed him on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Summers actually got his start as a magician, doing tricks for a pots-and-pans company at the Housewares Show right here in Chicago, for example. He’s also performed as a comedian at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, one-time home to talents such as David Letterman and Jay Leno.
In his career, Summers has worked for Lifetime Television and the History Channel, but he is most passionate about what he does for the Food Network.
“The impact of TV is great,” says Summers, who’s been performing in one way or another since age 5.
Summers’s favorite confections?
“I love Red Vines, but you can’t get them on the East Coast,” he complains. Summers also is a self-declared Peeps freak. And he has a deep-seeded love of the Bun Bar, an old-time candy that’s available again due to continued interest in nostalgia – one of two reasons people enjoy “Unwrapped” so much, Summers suggests. The other reason, he says: “Everyone likes to go behind the scenes.”
The Bun Bar aside, Summers was extremely excited to see the return of Bonomo Turkish Taffy, another retro confection, which appeared in the New Product Showcase at this week’s show, courtesy of The Warrell Corporation.
“I don’t think nostalgia ever goes out of style,” he asserts, adding, “We all have our favorites.”
I could never pick a favorite TV host, but I’m happy to add Summers to the list of celebrities I’ve now met in the flesh. I “dare” to say he won’t be the last.
Editor’s Note: Speaking of favorites, today, The National Confectioner’s Association (NCA) announced the winners of its first Buyer’s Choice – Best New Concept Awards, chosen by buyer attendees from selections in the New Product Showcase. They were: Jelly Belly for Cocktail Classics, Mars for Pretzel M&M’S, Proctor & Gamble for Multigrain Pringles, The Hershey Company for Reese’s Peanut Butter Minis and Just Born for Dark Chocolate Peeps. Congrats to all!
Brooks garners 65th Kettle AwardAlthough Candy Industry’s 65th annual Kettle Award reception was held at a new venue this year -- the prestigious Union League Club of Chicago -- the recipient proved to be an industry veteran familiar to nearly everyone: John Brooks, Sr., president of Los Angeles-based Adams & Brooks, Inc.
More than 200 guests waited in anticipation as Kettle Committee Chairman Chuck Phelan opened the envelope before revealing the news. The room burst into applause as Phelan read the words, “And the recipient of this year’s Kettle Award is John Brooks, Sr. of Adams & Brooks.”
Brooks’ curriculum vitae, while steeped in confectionery, did have one out-of-candy experience. After graduating from the University of Southern California with a masters of science in biology, Brooks opted to work as a bio-technician with Northrop Space Laboratories. But the allure of participating in the family business, which was founded by his father and partner, Paul Adams, in 1932, brought Brooks back to confectionery three years later.
He joined forces with his father at Adams & Brooks in 1964, involving himself in all aspects of production, sales and finance for the next 10 years.
In 1974, Brooks purchased a 50% interest in the company. Upon the death of his father in 1975, he took over as president of the company. In 1990, he established a candy manufacturing company in Mexico, eventually incorporating it as a subsidiary in 2006.
Active in the Western Candy Conference since 1976, Brooks was its chairman in 1978 and received the group’s Distinguished Service Award in 2001. As a member of the National Confectioners Association’s board since 1978, he served twice as the association’s vice president. He was inducted into the NCSA Candy Hall of Fame in 2008.
Brooks acknowledges that what he learned from his father and co-founder, Adams, had the most significant influence on his career. He is dedicated to continuing the Adams & Brooks tradition of producing distinctive, unique, quality candy. Two of his three children, Cynthia Brooks Hoban and John Jr., also are active in the family business, serving as vice presidents.
Candy Industry’s 2010 Kettle Award nominees -- Eric Atkinson of Atkinson Candy Co., Michael Rosenberg of Promotion in Motion Cos. Inc. and Ed Seguine of Mars Chocolate North America -- were honored with special plaques during a dinner held following the reception.
For more information about the Kettle Awards, visit www.kettleawards.com.
Mars unveils new SNICKERS line extension at Sweets & Snacks ExpoAt this week’s Sweets & Snacks Expo, Mars Chocolate North America announced a line extension of one of its most popular brands: SNICKERS Peanut Butter Squared.
Like its predecessor, SNICKERS Peanut Butter Squared contains peanuts, caramel, nougat and milk chocolate, but with the addition of peanut butter. And unlike single bars of original SNICKERS, the new product comes two square-shaped bars per pack; it also will come in FUN SIZE bags.
SNICKERS Peanut Butter Squared will be available in counter units and ready-case displays, and ship in a variety of carton and case options. It will be priced in line with other Mars Chocolate offerings and, starting in December, will be sold in the following channels: club, convenience store, drug, mass, grocery, specialty, value and vend.
The launch of new SNICKERS Peanut Butter Squared will include a comprehensive marketing campaign featuring TV, print, online, in-store and national advertising.
For more information about SNICKERS, visit www.snickers.com. For more information about Mars, visit www.mars.com.
Sugar Factory announces celebrity collection from Holly MadisonReality TV star Holly Madison recently unveiled her new line of signature candy necklaces at the Sugar Factory’s Miracle Mile Shops location inside Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.
A longtime Sugar Factory fan, Madison approached the confection company to collaborate on a signature version of her favorite sweet treat, the candy necklace. Madison is no stranger to the world of designing jewelry, having previously created a number of pieces for the Playboy jewelry collection.
Madison, who filmed the event for her new reality show, "Holly's World," was greeted by hundreds of fans anxiously waiting to meet the starlet. She wore a Sugar Factory candy necklace while signing autographs from 5 to 7 p.m. She even got behind the counter at the Sugar Factory and took requests as she scooped ice cream for a few lucky fans.
While Madison said guys definitely can get away with wearing her candy creations, when asked if rumored beau Benji Madden would sport her candy necklaces, Madison stated, "No, he would never wear it. It's too pastel!"
Madison's candy necklace line soon will be available for purchase at www.SugarFactory.com as well as at Sugar Factory stores located at The Mirage, Miracle Mile Shops and, opening this fall, Paris Las Vegas.
Jelly Belly introduces Cocktail Classics collectionNew Cocktail Classics from Jelly Belly pay homage to the classic cocktail, leaving out the distilled spirits in three “mocktail” flavors, packaged in a sophisticated black-and-silver box. They are:
- Mojito – “The traditional Cuban drink with mint, rum and lime.”
- Pomegranate Cosmo – “This real bean is a pink bombshell made with real pomegranate juice.”
- Peach Bellini – “Invented in 1943 at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, this classic combo of peaches and champagne is a must for brunch.”
Jelly Belly already has three other classic drink flavors in its arsenal. They are:
- Margarita – “Made with classic agave (the stuff that gives tequila its flavor), lime and a hint of salt.”
- Piña Colada – “Real coconut flakes and pineapple juice concentrate add up to a quintessential umbrella drink.”
- Strawberry Daiquiri – “Frosty with a base of lime and fresh strawberry notes.”
For more information about Jelly Belly, visit www.jellybelly.com.
Pemmican donates to food bankMarfood USA, Inc. has announced that it donated more than $25,000 in Pemmican Beef Jerky to Feeding America member Gleaners Community Food Bank in Taylor, Mich.
On April 1, to launch the new www.pemmican.com Web site, Marfood USA gave away a free bag of Pemmican Beef Jerky every minute to consumers plus five bags per minute to Feeding America, the largest food bank system in the United States.
Marfood USA President Alain Martinet says he is proud his company is able to deliver on a promise that will help those in need, especially in Marfood USA’s local community.
“People often refer to it as a snack, but Pemmican Beef Jerky is more about providing pure sustenance and energy to get you through the day,” Martinet says. “Protein is an important part of our overall diet, and even more important for those in need. Beef Jerky is a hardy food: low in fat and high in protein. We’re proud to be able to provide this type of product.”
W. DeWayne Wells, president of Gleaners Community Food Bank, notes that he is grateful Marfood USA sought out his organization to be the recipient of this plentiful contribution.
“We truly appreciate this thoughtful and generous donation of beef jerky,” Wells says. “It is only through the generosity of donors like Marfood USA that we are able to meet the emergency food needs of children, seniors and families. We are very grateful to Marfood USA for responding to the needs of the community in this way.”
As one of the oldest and largest food banks in the United States, Gleaners Community Food Bank's mission has been to collect and distribute millions of pounds of emergency food each year for hungry children, families and seniors in southeastern Michigan. For more than a quarter of a century it has been "nourishing communities by feeding hungry people.” Since 1977, Gleaners Community Food Bank has grown from distributing just 1 or 2 million lbs. of food per year to more than 30.8 million lbs. to 467 partner soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and schools -- equivalent to more than 66,000 meals per day. For more information, visit www.gfcb.org.
For more information about Pemmican, visit www.pemmican.com, www.marfoodusa.com and www.marfrig.com.br.
Confitexpo to celebrate 25 yearsConfitexpo, the international confectionery show organized by Dulcelandia magazine and produced by Grupo GEFECC, looks to celebrate its 25th anniversary in style this August.
The event, held each year in Guadalajara, Mexico, remains a key business forum for the confectionery industry in Mexico. Encompassing more than 19,000 sq. meters, the show draws suppliers, manufacturers, importers and marketers not only from Mexico both from all over the world.
Last year at Confitexo, there were 311 national and 24 foreign exhibitors showcasing their confections to 10,735 professional buyers from different countries. Just four months after opening registration, the 2010 show, to be held Aug. 3-6, already has sold 89% of its available space. Confirmed confectionery exhibitors represent companies based in Mexico, the United States, Guatemala, El Salvador, Brazil, Northern Ireland, India, Germany and Spain.
For more information, visit www.confitexpo.com or contact Malinali López or Janeth Ochoa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
sweet of the week: Wonka ExceptionalsNew Wonka Exceptionals from Nestlé Confections and Snacks Division (Division of Nestlé USA), Glendale, Calif., come in full-sized tablets and bags of individually wrapped minis, both of which could contain a golden ticket for a free trip around the world. They are available in three varieties: Scrumdiddlyumptious Chocolate Bar, milk chocolate with bits of toffee, cookie and peanuts; Chocolate Waterfall Bar, white chocolate swirled with milk chocolate; and Domed Dark Chocolate Bar, dark chocolate topped with milk chocolate drops. The suggested retail prices are $2.39 per 3.5-oz. bar and $4.29 for a 8.5-9.5-oz. bag of minis. For more information, call 1-800-358-1971 or visit www.nestleusa.com.
Check out other new products being shown through May 27 at the Sweets & Snacks Expo here.