By Bernard Pacyniak
Editor-in-Chief
Candy Industry
pacyniakb@bnpmedia.com

getting fresh: Sweet solace

Palliative therapy. It’s a term I wasn’t really familiar with until this year. It refers to any kind of care or treatment that concentrates on reducing the severity of disease symptoms. The goal is not to cure, but to provide comfort and enhance the quality of life.

Another way of looking at palliative therapy is that this approach treats the person and not the disease. Thus, aromatherapy, therapeutic music, humor, visual or performing arts, pet visits and massages all can be part of a palliative therapy approach.

Earlier this year, my mother-in-law, a non-smoker, passed away from lung cancer. Shortly thereafter, my mother discovered that the lump in her breast was cancerous and that the cancer had spread to her lungs.

Thus, the term palliative therapy truly hit home. Consequently, when I received an e-mail from Lauren Rehm last Friday discussing the palliative therapy benefits of Angel Mints, I took notice. Lauren is the daughter of Scott Rehm, who -- together with his father, Jerry -- run a small confectionery business in Clearwater, Fla., known as the Florida Candy Factory. In talking to Scott, I discovered that the origin of Angel Mints dates back to 1919, when it was created in a small candy shop located on the boardwalk of Wildwood, N.J.

The candies were dubbed Angel Mints because of their “heavenly taste,” not because of any healing attributes. In 1984, Jerry purchased the original recipe, manufacturing techniques and rights as well as the early 1900s kitchen equipment and machinery used for making the mints (as well as saltwater taffy) and set up shop in Clearwater.

In doing so, he scrupulously adhered to the original recipe, replicating the heavenly qualities of the mint.

Scott joined his father in the business, and over the years, the two noticed a continuing stream of comments from many consumers about the therapeutic benefits of Angel Mints, such as calming of the stomach, soothing throats, reducing indigestion and neutralizing the metallic taste left behind after chemotherapy.

As Scott relates, initially, these comments were viewed with a bit of skepticism by the Rehms. After all, it’s just candy.

Still, as Scott points out, this candy contains only natural ingredients: pure cane sugar, peppermint oil, a touch of corn syrup, cream of tartar and water.

Noting that peppermint oil has long been associated with therapeutic values, from calming and reducing indigestion, colonic muscle spasms, heart burn, nausea, diarrhea to relieving irritable bowel syndrome, Jerry and Scott began to believe that there was something angelic about these candies -- that they indeed provided palliative therapy, as scores of appreciative consumers attested. It wasn’t just a placebo effect.

Naturally, neither Scott nor Jerry claim Angel Mints can cure anything. But after nearly 25 years in the business, the father-and-son team can vouch for the products soothing capabilities.

Of course, as with all small businesses, the recent recession has had an impact on their operation. And as for all small businesses, it’s not easy to get the word out about their product line. Consequently, I thought it would be a good idea to generate some publicity for the Rehms.

So check out their Web site, www.angelmint.com, and try their product. To all you earnest candymakers, take a look at the production photos of the mint and taffy production on antique equipment. Truly amazing.

In the end, all of us need a bit of comfort from time to time, be it from an angel, a mint or both.


SymphonyIRI projects promising future for confections

SymphonyIRI has some good news for the confectionery industry. According to the researcher, sweets and snacks sales remained strong throughout the recession and are projected to grow at a healthy pace over the next six months.

This spring, a research group of 500 consumers had the following to say about their habits over the past six months:

•    23% increased their purchases of chewing gum
•    21% increased their purchases of chocolate candy
•    19% increased their purchases of mints, breath fresheners and non-chocolate candy

SymphonyIRI also reported what retailers can expect over the next months:

•    28% increase in confection purchases at mass merchandisers
•    13% increase in confection purchases at dollar stores
•    12% increase in confection purchases at supermarkets
•    12% increase in confection purchases at club stores

Although consumers aren’t cutting back on buying candy, they are becoming more conscious of their purchases before leaving their homes. Nearly 75% of candy shoppers are planning their store trips in advance, making shopping lists, browsing store flyers and collecting coupons prior to visiting retailers. Brand loyalty also is important to 68% of shoppers who say they always purchase the same brand.

Chocolate, along with salty snacks and crackers, was rated among the most affordable and essential items by shoppers. However, SymphonyIRI noted a spike in the purchase of luxury products, including luxury chocolate, during the recession. This could be attributed to shoppers suffering “frugal fatigue” and attempting to maintain normalcy at home by continuing to buy items they have traditionally purchased.

Dark chocolate continues to be a favorite, particularly among families with health concerns. Among families with high cholesterol sufferers, 31% include dark chocolate in their diets, as do 30% of families with heart problem sufferers.

“Confections marketers to date have successfully navigated the waters of a rapidly transforming economy,” says Thom Blischok, global president of innovation and strategy for SymphonyIRI Group. Blischok stressed the importance of understanding shoppers’ habits in order to anticipate and meet their changing demands.

For more information about this study visit  www.symphonyiri.com or email Chelsea Irwin at cirwin@stearnsjohnson.com.




Indonesia's PEKA program aids cocoa farmers in need

As the world’s third largest cocoa producer, Indonesia is home to more than one million farm households who depend on cocoa as their main source of income. On July 1, in conjunction with the international cocoa industry, the country launched a program to improve the Aceh cocoa sector -- an area that provides income for 90,000 small cocoa farmers who are recovering from the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.

PEKA (Peningkatan Ekonomi Kakao Aceh) is a three-year program that will increase and improve revenue, productivity and quality standards of Aceh’s cocoa. Located in the northwestern tip of Sumatra, Aceh has a population of about 4.5 million and includes more than 10% of Indonesia’s farmers.

Swisscontact, the Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation, is leading the consortium of international NGOs implementing the PEKA program. Plans include training on farming practices to improve yields and developing local business services to provide farm inputs such as seedlings, fertilizer, pesticides, tools and capital for cocoa farmers.

Other contributors to the program include the World Cocoa Foundation, which will coordinate a cocoa research scientist fellowship program; Mars Incorporated, which will provide its latest research to Aceh cocoa producers; and UK Armajaro, which plans to facilitate direct purchasing from farmers to cocoa processors and manufacturers.

For more information, see details of Swisscontact’s programs at www.swisscontact.or.id or visit www.worldcocoafoundation.org.



Belcolade's new chocolate pairing

Wine often is paired with complementary flavors of chocolate, but how about chocolate paired with tomatoes, grilled beef, oysters or cheddar cheese? Belcolade, a Belgian chocolate manufacturer owned by the Puratos Group, plans to present a concept called Chocolate Foodpairing early this fall.

Chocolate Foodpairing, which combines flavor profiles of Belcolade’s origin chocolates with a variety of different foods, already has been successful in Europe and Japan. It will be introduced to the United States on Sept. 20 at the StarChefs International Chefs Congress in New York City.

The flavor profiles of Belcolade’s chocolates have been analyzed at a molecular level. Each profile then is compared to a database of several hundred foods and beverages, and matched with those that share the same major flavor components. Designed for chocolatiers, bakers, patissiers and chefs, this tool is meant to inspire creativity for development of original recipes that exceed consumer expectations. The analysis is presented in easy-to-follow graphs called food pairing trees at www.chocolatefoodpairing.com.

“Foodpairing takes a long history of gastronomy and combines it with a modern twist, developed by a new generation who are at the cutting edge of today’s new concept creations,” says Heston Blumenthal, chef and owner of The Fat Duck, a world-renowned restaurant.

For more information on Belcolade visit www.belcolade.com.




New Canadian distributor for Glee

Verve Inc.’s all-natural Glee Gum is expanding its presence in Canada, thanks to a partnership with Directa Distribution in Pointe-Claire, Quebec. Glee Gum joins the ranks of more than 100 brands of natural and organic foods that Directa has supplied to health food stores, groceries and pharmacies since 1982.

“As Glee Gum’s popularity in the rest of Canada continues to surge, we are thrilled for the chance to launch the line in Quebec,” says Deborah Schimberg, president and founder of Providence, R.I.-based Verve.

Free from artificial coloring, flavoring, sweeteners and preservatives, Glee Gum is made “the old-fashioned way” with chicle, a natural tree sap harvested from the rainforests of Central America. The gum is eco-friendly from the ingredients down to its packaging, which is made of recycled cardboard.

For more information, visit www.gleegum.com.




sweet of the week: Glutino Pretzels

Glutino Food Group, Laval, Quebec, has added two new products, Chocolate- and Yogurt-Covered Pretzels, to its extensive line of gluten-free foods. They are made with all-natural premium milk chocolate or yogurt and contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. The suggested retail price is $5.99 per 5.5-oz. package. For more information, call 1-800-363-3438 or visit www.glutino.com.