Not Just Candy
When it comes to lollipops, kids seek excitement and fun as much as they seek to satisfy the sweet tooth.
Perhaps more than any other candy category, lollipops have been thrust into the role of providing entertainment for the younger set.
“Kids want entertainment. As the packaged goods industry moves toward product placement and the immersion of products as part of the actual entertainment, it is important for candy manufacturers to do that as well,” says Gail Sirota, Ring Pop and Push Pop Brand Manager for The Topps Company Inc., New York, N.Y.
Trends and flavors
“Lollipops are a classic candy, but kids today require something extra,” Sirota adds. “They are constantly on the go, and the candy they choose to enjoy has to not only taste good, but fit into their active lifestyles. They look for new, cool and interesting items that offer meaningful benefits.” Topps caters to the need for “newness” with interactive products such as Juicy Drop Pop, which allows kids to control flavor intensity, and candy with added play value, such as the spring-loaded Push Pop. In addition, Topps catered to the concerns of moms, recently re-designing the Push Pop to make it less messy.
Other recent lollipop introductions are capable of setting kids’ imaginations soaring.
Jel Sert Company’s Sweet Cred Wrist Licker is a toy wristwatch with a stickless lollipop where the timepiece would be. Avon, Ohio-based Just For Laughs’ Sound Pops are mounted on toy animals that sing or make their own animal sounds. And Chatsworth, Calif.-based Malibu Toys caters to jewelry lovers with Light-Up Candy Necklaces. For the boys or rather, non-necklace wearers, there are Light-Up Clip Ons. CandyRific LLC, based in Louisville, Ky., recently introduced Lite Up Cool Pop, combining the continuing popularity of the light-up feature with a working fan. Napa, Calif.-based Cap Candy’s innovations include the magnifying glass lollipop Magna Pop, Bug Factor Lollipop with a realistic-looking bug encased in the candy, and the All Thumbs Pop, which slips over the thumb.
Innovative flavors are also in the fore at Topps. This year, the company introduces flavors such as Cotton Candy Bubble Gum, Root Beer Float, Shirley Temple, Sweet Cinnamon Swirl and Carmel Apple in its Sweet Shop Ring Pops line.
Tropical flavors and flavor combinations continue to be hot. Tootsie Roll Industries is on top of both trends. The Chicago-based candymaker recently unveiled Tootsie Pop Tropical Stormz. Each of the five varieties combines two tropical flavors — orange/pineapple, lemon/lime, strawberry/banana, Citrus Punch and Berry Berry Punch.
The internet looms large in the lives of the 6- to 14-year-old crowd — Topps’ main demographic. It is one of the most important places kids go to connect with each other and entertain themselves. Because of  this, Topps does many online promotions, as well as reaching its audience through television advertising.
The company has supported several of its brands, such as Baby Bottle Pop and Push Pop, with contests and promotions in conjunction with the kids’ cable network Nickelodeon via its website. Other promotions have been launched with the Cartoon Network.
While no one would dare suggest that candy is anything more than a treat, nutritionally speaking, Sirota points out that lollipops are preferable to many other snack foods. They are lower in calories than many other options, and those calories are consumed over an extended period of time.