NCA Honors Most Innovative New Products

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Confectioners Association (NCA) honored companies that showcased imaginative ideas, concepts and products at the recently concluded 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo by bestowing 45 Most Innovative New Product Award nominations.

"The Expo's new product awards program demonstrates not only the outstanding innovation candy and snack makers apply to product development, but also sincere understanding of today's consumer," said Phil Lempert, Expo panel moderator and food trends editor for NBC's TODAY Show. "The program is one of the fastest-growing, most popular ones of its kind across a wide variety of consumer products, with submissions up nearly 25 percent over last year."

One day prior to the Expo, which took place May 20-22 at Chicago's McCormick Place, an expert panel collaborated and taste-tested more than 280 product submissions to select the award nominees, the NCA reported. Panelists included Harry Balzer, trends expert for The NPD Group; Peggy Balboa, registered dietician for Mariano's Fresh Market; "Ace of Cakes" celebrity chef Duff Goldman; and the Food Network's Iron Chef winner and restaurateur Homaro Cantu.

Also on the panel were executives from some of the top retailers of candy and snack products in the United States, including: Dollar General, Eby-Brown Co., Hy-Vee Inc., IT'SUGAR, Meijer Inc., Sam's Club, Safeway Inc., Walgreens and Walmart.

The panel analyzed candy and snack segments, then rated submissions on taste, packaging, innovation and go-to-market feasibility to determine the 45 nominees. Retail and wholesale trade customers then voted on the winners in nine different categories, as CSNews Online reported in its live show coverage.

The full list of nominees and winners is as follows:

The Hershey Co. – York Minis
Kimmie Candy Co. – Salted Caramel ChocoRocks
Mars Chocolate North America – Snickers Rockin' Nut Road
Scho-ko-lade – Scho-ko-lade
Winner: The Chocolate Traveler – TABASCO Chocolate Bars

Just Born Inc. – PEEPS Minis Sour Watermelon Flavored Marshmallow
Candy Dynamics – Goop Gum Sour Liquid Filled Gum
Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa – Coffee Thins Peppermint
Hillside Candy – GoOrganic Fruit Chews
Winner: Jelly Belly Candy Co. – Jelly Belly Draft Beer Jelly Beans

Sweet snacks
Mars Chocolate North America – TWIX Bites Unwrapped
Stuff 'n Mallows – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Stuffed Marshmallows
That's How We Roll – Mrs. Thinsters Cookie Thins Brownie Batter
That's How We Roll – Mrs. Thinsters Cookie Thins Chocolate Chip
Winner: Bare Snacks – Crunchy Coconut Chips "Show Me the Honey"

Salty snacks
Giant Snacks – Giant's Sriracha Sunflower Seeds
Hardbite Chips – Hardbite Lightly Salted Parsnip Chips
Oberto Brands – Oberto Spicy Buffalo Style Chicken Strips
POP! Gourmet Popcorn – Fire Corn White Cheddar Jalapeno Popcorn
Winner: Gourmet Basics – Slim Chips White Cheddar

Savory snacks
Edward Marc Chocolatier – Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Snappers
Flamous Brands Inc. – Flamous Spicy Fiesta Chips
Cheesewich – Cheesewich Colby Jack Cheese & Salami
Ripple Brand Collective – Bark Thins Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seeds
Winner: POP! Gourmet Popcorn – Sriracha Popcorn

Concord Confections Inc. – Fizzers Fizzing Bubble Gum
Ford Gum & Machine Co. Inc. – Big League Chew Bubblegum Baseball
Ford Gum & Machine Co. Inc. – Flavor Ice Cherry Bubblegum filled with Blue-Raspberry Powder
Jelly Belly Candy Co. – Jelly Belly Disney Princess Slipper
Winner: Leaf Brands/Astro Pop LLC – Sour Farts Flow Pack

Atkinson Candy Co. – Sophie Mae Gingerbread Pecan Brittle
Ferrara Candy Co. – Brach's Caramel Macchiato Candy Corn
Ferrara Candy Co. – Brach's Peppermint Crème Jelly Candy Canes
Just Born Inc. – PEEPS Orange & Crème Flavored Marshmallow Chicks
Winner: Vigneri Chocolate – Doodle Egg

Lir Chocolates – Guinness Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar
Hammond's Candies – Hammond's Whoopie Pie Chocolate Bar
Chuao Chocolatier – Oh My S'mores!
Chuao Chocolatier – Pretzel Toffee Twirl
Winner: Ripple Brands Collective – Bark Thins Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconuts

Gum & Mints
The Hershey Co. – Ice Breakers Cool Blasts Chews
Vitaball, Inc. – Vitamingum Fresh Cinnamon
Wm. Wrigley Co. – Altoids Arctic, Peppermint
Wm. Wrigley Co. – Juicy Fruit Fruity Chews
Winner: Project 7 – Project 7 Coconut Lime

Show attendees also selected the inaugural Best in Show Prize, which was awarded to The Hershey Co.'s York Minis.

"Once again, we saw new trends emerge in the candy and snacks category, including exciting and wild flavor combinations, as well as innovative twists on flavor favorites," said Tim Quinn, Expo chairman and vice president of trade relations at Mars Chocolate North America. "There's no other category where you'll find Sriracha-flavored snacks next to a Guinness chocolate bar next to a snack featuring dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds."

The 2015 Most Innovative New Product Awards will be presented at next year's Sweets & Snacks Expo, to be held May 19-21 in Chicago.

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