The Confection and Snack categories usually can be grouped into three areas: sweet or sour, salty or sugary, or crunchy or soft. Although the numbers were down slightly with introductions topping off at 1,924 in 2000, many products broke out of their staid classifications with more innovation and dazzle.

Sweet Games

Candy, Gum & Snacks 2000 1999
Sugar candies 668 655
Chocolate candies 405 516
Savory/salty snacks 298 260
Energy bars & mixes 255 260
Meat snacks 63 83
Gum 58 75
Hors d'oeuvres 93 60
Nuts 69 47
Other 15 27
Total 1,924 1,983

Source: New Product News/GNPD & PF

There were lots of familiar faces on candy wrappers in 2000. Licensing noteworthy characters to sell candy seemed at an all time high. Everyone from Pokemon to Harry Potter appeared on one wrapper or another. In fact, it seemed like Pokemon appeared on everything last year. Digimon and The Grinch also appeared on a number of sweet treats.

The Simpsons had a big year in licensing. Twelve television seasons strong, the Springfield family still has the ability to push Butterfinger candy. In 2000, Homer graced the label of the brand's Huge bar, and the whole family was immortalized as Pez dispensers.

Snyder’s of Hanover improved on the healthy image of pretzels by introducing a line of organic pretzel snacks.
Parents always tell kids not to play with their food. Candy manufacturers, however, must be trying to subordinate parental authority judging by the type of products introduced last year. There was a plethora of interactive candies to keep kids occupied while they indulged their taste for sweets. Everything from finger-size skateboards and Spin-pops to key chains and do-it-yourself kits were available for children and adults alike.

Hershey's Candy Bar Factory was the biggest introduction in the play with your food or "eatertainment" phenomenon. This kit includes a chocolate bar shell that can be filled with any of four toppings, including Reese's peanut butter filling and sprinkles. Retailing for about $2, the kit is a game and snack in one.

For those who like their candy decorative, there was the Candy Jewelry Kit from Beacon Sweets in a bracelet and a necklace variety. Another kit that didn't get as much fanfare at its introduction was the Gummi Maker Candy Kit from Amazing Candy Craft, Hollis, N.Y. The kit allows children to mold their own candy.

Already in 2001, we've seen a combination of these two licensing and interactivity trends. Imagining 3, Niles, Ill., has rolled out Hot Wheels Candy Car Maker, a flexible candy assortment that gets molded into Hot Wheel car and truck shapes in the included plastic form. The company is also distributing Atomic Fireballs in a plastic tube surrounded by a plastic racecar track. A flashy Hot Wheel is included.

Sour flavors ruled the candy shop last year and will continue to do so in 2001. Psycho Psours from Adams & Brooks, Los Angeles, was typical of the new sours launched. The product is brightly packaged with a nutty-looking kid daring youngsters to try the product, which features fruit flavors so sour, you think your teeth will fall out.

Most sour candies exhibited a gummi texture and were coated with the sour ingredients. One exception, Squire Boon Village's Mouth Explosion Sour Liquid Candy, was a little dose of liquid tartness. Traditional candy brands, such as Skittles and Airheads, also released sour versions of their candies. Numerous sour products will be released in 2001, including another traditional confection, Dots, which will debut a sour variety.

Relaunches and reformulations were popular in 2000 as well. In the past decade or so, Willy Wonka's face has faded from view. Nestle brought him back with a vengeance last year as he accompanied several new products and the relaunch of Bottle Caps, a cola candy.

Wonka Nerds Ropes are a good example of reformulating an established product to come up with something totally new. Nestle took a gummy rope and coated it with hard, sweet Nerd candies to create a new SKU. The Nestle Crunch bar received an adult makeover with a reformulation of a mocha coffee flavor, although the original is still available.

Concord Confections, Concord, Ontario, also relaunched Razzles, the original candy-to-gum treat.

Hershey’s Candy Bar Factory allows kids to create their own customized treats.

Sensational Snacks

Spices, soy, and snack bars were plentiful in the Snack category last year. Flavors like peanut butter, nacho, and more zesty versions of the usual seasonings were more popular than ever. Combination products and energy bars found more mainstream acceptance.

A convenient combo from Procter & Gamble was the Pringles ZipDip. An on-the-go convenience item, ZipDip combines a tube of Pringles chips with a container of dip attached to the top. One of the most exciting introductions we saw in the snack category was the Athenos Traveler snack packs from Churny. These all-in-one snacks have a compartment for hummus (five varieties) and one for sliced pita bread with a plastic spreading paddle. The product plays up both the exotic and ethnic food and convenience trends. Zena's Pita Chips continued the pita party with crispy wedges flavored in four varieties.

In the more traditional snack route, we found some interesting concepts in chips and nuts. For example, Frito-Lay unveiled Bistro Gourmet Chip Snacks, a fancy name for potato chips. With cool flavors such as roasted garlic, applewood and smoked cheddar, the snacks are positioned for the upscale consumer.

Last year, Plantation Sales introduced Microwavable Nuts--just pop the bag in the microwave like you would popcorn and enjoy fresh-roasted nuts in minutes.

For this year, we'll see a steady flow of new products infiltrating the snack market. A notable one to keep an eye (and mouth) out for is from Frito-Lay. As if its orange coating wasn't enough, Cheetos will soon reveal a color-changing version of its cheese curls called Mystery Colorz. When eaten, the orange-colored snack will turn the consumer's tongue either green or blue.

Raising the Bar

There also were a significant number of energy/snack bars and soy-based products introduced in 2000. Hansen's Beverage expanded its horizon with the introduction of a line of natural bar snacks. Odwalla, Natrol, Powerfood, and Balance Bar all introduced snacks that promise to energize you, replace meals, give you added vitamins and minerals, and taste better than any other bar on the market.

The soy scene exploded with all sorts of soy snacks, including a line of mixes, nuts, and bars from, and entries from Genisoy, Heartland Fields, and Heaven Scent Foods. As we hear almost daily about the beneficial properties of soy, we expect this area to further expand in 2001. PF