Armand’s Choice

by Mary Ellen Kuhn
Innovative Candy Concepts is set to roll out reformulated, sugar-free Too Tarts line.
Just eight years after creating what quickly became a breakthrough kids’ product — the first liquid candy — Armand Hammer is pushing the envelope once again.
In an exclusive interview with Confectioner last month, Hammer revealed that his company, Atlanta-based Innovative Candy Concepts (ICC), is completely revamping its popular Too Tarts kids’ candy line-up, converting to product formulations that contain no sugar and are 50 percent to 60 percent lower in calories than the original versions. Hammer says that ICC will no longer produce candy that is made with sugar.
"We’re making our living selling candy to kids, so let’s do it responsibly," says Hammer. "It’s healthy for our kids, and its positive for the growth of our industry."
The Too Tarts brand includes Sour Blast and Super Sweet spray candies, Xtra Sour Goo, UFOs and Suck Ups. The new formulation for each product will contain fruit juice concentrates — the equivalent of 100 percent juice — and no refined sugar.
The company will use very small amounts of sucralose (sold under the brand name Splenda), glycerin and Acesfulfame K (brand name Sunett) to augment the sweetening delivered via the fruit juice concentrate blend, which it labels Jammy Juice. Hammer explains that ICC has opted not to use sugar alcohols as primary sweeteners because of the mild laxative effect associated with them.
The newly formulated line will be sold under the banner Too Tarts Smart Choice and will be introduced to candy buyers at the All Candy Expo in Chicago, June 8 –10. It will begin shipping in July.
Substituting sugar alternatives for sugar increases the ingredient cost, but Hammer does not plan to pass the increase on to consumers or retailers. The suggested retail price will remain the same – 99 cents to $1.29 per item.
Hammer reports positive response to taste tests of his newly formulated line. He says he is not concerned about potential negative repercussions about the use of non-sugar sweeteners.
Instead he’s pumped up about formulating without the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup, an ingredient that has started to come under scrutiny among the nutritionally aware for its widespread use in the U.S. food supply. An avid marathon runner and generally health-conscious person, Hammer says he is motivated by the desire to offer parents and children an alternative to sugar-sweetened products.
A decade ago, he points out, the range of good-tasting sugar alternatives was much more limited. Now, however, he says, "I have choices about how I can make my product."
He says that offering two versions of the line — one made with sugar and one with sugar alternatives — did not appeal to him.
"To do it half-way, I don’t think I could put my heart in it," he says.
"To me, it’s a double win," he continues. "We can help society and we can grow our industry."