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Candy Makers Reveal Better-For-You Foods

Apparently energy-packed sports drinks aren't enough. Now there are vitamin-laced jellybeans and ginseng-stoked chews.

The nation's candy makers are targeting fitness enthusiasts seeking to boost athletic performance or quickly grab a jolt of energy, according to an Associated Press report.

Industry insiders and analysts who gathered last week for the All Candy Expo in Chicago say the odd pairing of candy and fitness might just make economic sense. Consumers are spending more than $3 billion a year on "energy" gels, bars and drinks, and the crowded $25 billion confection industry must continue to innovate if it's going to sweeten the bottom line, according to the report.

The new products stand a good chance of catching on, said Harry Balzer of The NPD Group, based in Port Washington, N.Y. "Americans are explorers, they like new things. As long as you don't upset my expectations of taste, that's the most important thing."

At the All Candy Expo Jelly Belly Candy Co. of Fairfield, Calif., introduced "Sports Beans." Each 1-ounce serving has vitamins C and E plus 120 milligrams of electrolytes to boost energy and prevent dehydration. "We felt there was an opening in the market for a non-bar, non-chocolate functional product," said Bill Kelley, Jelly Belly vice chairman. "This has the energy component, electrolytes and it tastes good" in lemon-lime and orange flavors.

BestSweet Inc. of Mooresville, N.C., signed up NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. to endorse its new XLR8 Energy Chews made with caffeine, ginseng and guarana. BestSweet's Steve Berkowitz said three of the taffy-like candies provide a boost equivalent to drinking one can of the popular Red Bull energy drink.

Schuster Marketing Corp.'s sugar-free Blitz Energy Gum has 100 milligrams of caffeine, about the same as a freshly brewed cup of java.
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