2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo Honors Innovation

Forty candy, snack products across eight categories named Most Innovative New Products of the Year

WASHINGTON -- During the 2013 Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago last month, the National Confectioners Association (NCA) bestowed 40 Most Innovative New Product nominations on companies showcasing imaginative ideas, concepts and products in two of the fastest-growing categories in the marketplace: confectionery and snacks. Retail and wholesale trade customers then electronically selected one winner in each of the eight categories that help make up the $80 billion U.S. sweets and snacks industry.

Announced at a keynote session at the event, the nominees and winners in each category were:

Chocolate winner:  The Hershey Co., Kit Kat Minis.


  • Chuao Chocolatier, Pop corn Pop.
  • Cosijns Chocolatier, Sushi Dessert Garden Party.
  • Mars Inc., M&M's Chocolate Bar.
  • Pure Chocolate, Exclusive Truffles Collection.

Non-chocolate winner: Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa, Coffee Thins.


  • Ferrara Candy Co., Trolli Evil Twins.
  • Jel Sert, Mott's Freezer Bars.
  • Just Born Inc., Hot Tamales Tropical Heat.
  • Project 7, Save the Earth Mints.

Sweet snacks winner: Sprinkle It On, Handmade Marshmallow & Rice Cereal Confectionery.


  • 479, Toasted Coconut Caramel.
  • Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., Starburst Minis.
  • Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., Lifesaver Berry Bites Gummies.

Salty snacks winner: Sahale Snacks, Pomegranate Pistachios.


  • Gourmet Basics, Original Sweet Maui Rings.
  • Herr Foods Inc., Baked Multigrain Crisps, Tuscan Garden Medley.
  • That's How We Roll, Party'tizer Dippin Chips.
  • The Daily Crave, The Daily Crave Veggie Chips.

Savory snacks winner: Fire Corn Popcorn/Pop Gourmet, B.A.'s Fire Corn, Real Jalapeno Popcorn.


  • Big League Snacks, Big League Jerky, Sweet & Spicy flavor.
  • Fire Corn Popcorn/Pop Gourmet, POP! Gourmet Popcorn, Rogue Blue Popcorn.
  • Pizza is 4 Suckers, Pizza is 4 Suckers, Hard Candy.
  • Sahale Snacks, Maple Pecans.

Novelty/licensed winner: Jelly Belly Candy Co., Tabasco Jelly Bean bottles.


  • Bazooka Candy Brands, Ring Pop Gummies.
  • Jel Sert Company, Baskin Robbins Sherbet Freezer Bars.
  • Swiss Colony Retail Brands, Blueberry and Pomegranate Jelly Belly Cake Bites.
  • Swiss Colony Retail Brands, Very Cherry Jelly Belly Cake Bites.

Seasonal winner: Russell Stover Candies Inc., Russell Stover S'mores BIG BITE Bar.


  • Charms Co., Charms Candy Corn Pops.
  • Just Born Inc., Party Cake Flavored Marshmallow PEEPS.
  • Just Born Inc., PEEPS Chick in Chocolate Egg.
  • Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., Starburst Candy Corn.

Gourmet/premium winner: Hammond's Candies, Hammond's Milk Chocolate Red Velvet Cake Bar.


  • Bare Fruit, Bare Fruit Natural Chili Lime Apple Chips.
  • Golden Island Jerky, Korean BBQ Pork Jerky.
  • Hammond's Candies, Hammond's Peanut Butter Cup Gift Box.
  • Two Haute Cowgirls Popcorn Confections, Haute Buttered Rum Brittle.

"The Expo's new product awards program has been not only one of the most unique and diverse as far as product submissions, but also one of the fastest-growing, most popular awards programs with submissions up 17% in the last year," said Phil Lempert, food trends editor for NBC's Today show and panel moderator.

The day before the Sweets & Snacks Expo, a panel of top U.S. retailers, food industry icons and trend experts collaborated and taste-tested more than 200 product submissions.

Panel participants included The NPD Group Trends expert Harry Balzer, Saatchi & Saatchi X's Worldwide CEO Dina Howell and the Food Network's Iron Chef winner and restaurateur Chef Homaro Cantu as well as executives from some of the top retailers of candy and snack products in the U.S. including BP/ARCO ampm, Dollar General, Eby-Brown Co., IT'SUGAR, Meijer, Sam's Club, Safeway, Walgreens and Walmart.

The panel analyzed eight candy and snack segments ranging from chocolate and nonchocolate to savory and salty snacks. Panelists then rated product submissions on taste, packaging, innovation and go-to-market feasibility and nominated up to five of the top items across the eight segments.

On the first day of the Expo, more than 1,000 retail and wholesale trade customers voted for their top picks in each category in the Most Innovative New Product Awards showcase.

"About 30% of annual confectionery and snack sales are attributed to products introduced in the last two years, so these launches are critical to industry success," said NCA president Larry Graham.

"We are seeing new trends emerge including creative spins on classic candy and snack favorites as well as wild new flavor combinations for treats," said expo chairman Tim Quinn, vice president of trade development at Mars Chocolate North America.

The 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo will be held in Chicago, May 20 to 22, 2014.