This year, the National Confectioners Association changed the name of the All Candy Expo to Sweets & Snacks Expo, all the better to describe the swiftly growing snack industry. The Expo is the largest in the North America and takes place at the McCormick Center in Chicago, Illinois. If a food is a snack then it’s represented, from the beloved Hershey to pork rinds, to energy infused gums to gummies in every shape, to every flavor of chip imaginable!
The Expo is intended for brokers, distributors and buyers and as an owner of a retail store that (sometimes) carries candy and snacks I’m entitled to go. So I do. And I did. And it was delicious.
Here is a shot of Mos Steph in the lobby. This is just before we enter and begin about 6 hours of sampling and snacking.
One of the most exciting things that Mos Steph and I got to do was decorate a cupcake under the guidance of Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, authors of the adorable books Hello Cupcake! and What's New, Cupcake!. Karen and Alan were there to guide attendees in decorating their choice of spaghetti & meatball, lo mien or fruit pie cupcake. I picked lo mien and Mos Steph picked blueberry pie.
For the pie, Mos Steph frosted a cupcake in the color of pie crust. Then she used blue M&M, to make the fruit and more icing for lattice and the pretty fluted pie crust edge.
The lo mien was a little more complicated and first involved putting a naked cupcake in a Chinese take-out box and covering it with frosting "noodles". Then, Karen instructed me in the ways of making broccoli using a green Frootie Tootsie Roll, cutting it lengthwise half way up, dotting the 2 ends in green icing and then covering them with tiny green non-pareils. The result:
These are the spaghetti & meatball cupcakes. Icing noodles, a Ferrero Roche chocolate meatball, covered in jam sauce and topped with grated white chocolate cheese!
Here are some Marvel themed gummy finger puppets,a sweet but very messy idea. The folks working the booth seemed busy so I didn't get a chance to talk to them but I might try to get online and order some for the store, I think kids would get a kick out of them! That pinky has a bit of a weird curve to it though!
The Jelly Belly booth is always a hub of activity. This year they are promoting their "cocktail" beans, like new flavors mojito, peach bellini and pomegranate cosmo as well as old standards like pina colada, margarita and strawberry daiquiri. These bartenders were shaking up samples in plastic martini glasses.
Jelly Belly also had this giant Mona Lisa made out of their beans.
The Hershey's booth likes to show you more than their candy so they were dishing up S'Mores, giant cookies and cups of chocolate milk made with their signature syrup.
Here are their display cases, one featuring treats from the far East and the other from South of the border.
Here is the Wonka booth. They are all about their new "Exceptionals" line, a little bit more grown up with dark chocolates and gummies with real fruit juices. I really like their Scrumdillyumptions Bar with toffee and cookie pieces.
Dove Chocolate is a member of the Mars family of products and they brought their own little chocolate fountain with a slew of yummy thing to dip into it.
Mars also stocked up a freezer full of their frozen treats, just in case.
The Promotion in Motion company is responsible for the Sour Jacks brand and to promote their new watermelon flavor they had a watermelon carver on site. His work was impressive and it smelled delicious!
World's Finest Chocolate, makers of those great bars you often buy for fundraising, was catering to the local sports fans with this FIFTY POUND bar of chocolate supporting the Chicago Blackhawks.
Later, Mos Steph and I sorted our goodies and cleaned up any messes that had occurred thanks to the unseasonal heat and weight of the samples as they sat in the car. Here is Steph with her haul. What you can't see is the giant blob of chocolate on her chin from snacking as she sorted!
Here is my haul, all sorted and put into bags for transport. Certainly not as much as previous trips but enough to get me though the summer!
If you'd like to see more pics from the Sweets & Snacks Expo please feel free to visit my Facebook page! If you are reading thins, mostly likely we are already friends!