The National Confectioners Association (NCA) recently announced its 2017 Most Innovative New Product Award winners following.
The award winners – including those for Best in Show and the newly added Small Business Innovator – represent the most creative, innovative and fun products, according to the NCA.

The winners were selected from nearly 370 new product award entries across nine candy and snack categories: chocolate; non-chocolate; sweet; salty; savory; novelty; seasonal; gourmet/premium; and gum & mints. Product submissions were rated based on four weighted criteria: taste, packaging, innovation and go-to market feasibility.

This year's Best in Show award went to The Hershey Company for Reese's Crunchers. Judges also presented the first Small Business Innovator Award to Montreal-based Buddha Brands Company for Hungry Buddha Probiotic Coconut Chips in Cheeky Chocolate.  The inaugural award recognizes companies with net sales under $500,000, giving them the opportunity to shine and gain recognition amongst with well-established peers.

This year's nominees and winners are:

Chocolate Winner: MARS Chocolate North America - M&M's Caramel Chocolate Candies 

• The Hershey Company – Reese's Crunchy Cookie Cups
• Mondelez International, Inc. – Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar
• Ferrero USA, Inc. – Kinder Joy 
• Edward Marc Brands – Edward Marc Chocolatier Coconut Almonds with Dark Chocolate

Non-Chocolate Winner: Jelly Belly Candy Company - Jelly Belly Krispy Kreme Gift Box 

• Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Starburst Sweet Heat
• Albanese Confectionery – Albanese World's Best Sherbet Gummi Bears
• Nestlé USA – SweeTARTS Whipped & Tangy
• Just Born Quality Confections - MIKE & IKE SOUR-LICOUS Fruit Punch flavored candies

Sweet Snacks Winner: Nestlé USA – Nerds Lucha Grande - Mango Chile and Guava 

• Charms Company – Andes Creme de Menthe Snap Bar
• Edward Marc Brands, Inc. – Snappers Milk Chocolate Caramel Macchiato Snappers
• Setton Farms – Pistachios + Blueberry infused Cranberries & Coconut Chewy Bites
• Brownie Brittle, LLC – Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Sea Salt

Salty Snacks Winner: The Daily Crave – Gouda & Romano Cheese Quinoa Chips 

• TwistCheez – Hickory Smoke
• Jack Link's Beef Jerky – AM Hot and Spicy Breakfast Sausage
• The Hershey Company – Hershey's Popped Snack Mix
• Twang Partners, LTD. – TWANGERZ Sriracha Salt

Savory Snacks Winner: Snyder's-Lance, Inc. – Wholey Cheese! / Mild Cheddar 

• Alli & Rose – Tropical Fields Crunchy Seaweed Rice Bites
• Chef's Cut Real Jerky – Protein Packs - Real Steak Jerky, Original Recipe Cheddar Cheese
• Hawaiian Host, Inc. – Mauna Loa Mango Chipotle Macadamias
goodnessKNOWS – Blueberry & Almond

Novelty/Licensed Winner: Ferrara Candy Co. TROLLI SOUR BRITE DIP'N CRAWLERS 

• Pez Candy, Inc. – Smurfs Gift Tin
• Jelly Belly Candy Company – Jelly Belly Mixed Emotions
• Galerie - Dylan's Candy Bar Secret Message Lollipop
• Jel Sert Company – Airheads White Mystery Freezer Bars

Seasonal Winner: Ghirardelli Chocolate Company - Ghirardelli Chocolate Strawberry Bark

• Ferrara Candy Co. – Trolli Sour Brite Crawlers Minis Hairy Heart Gift Heart
• Pez Candy, Inc. – Christmas Ornament with Mini Dispensers
• Impact Confections, Inc. – WARHEADS - Chewy Bunnies - Assorted Flavors
• The Matzo Project – Salted Matzo

Gourmet Winner: Las Olas Confections and Snacks – Anastasia Coconut Cashew Crunch Dark Chocolate Drizzle

• Newfangled Confections – Frittle Candy - Original
• Edward Marc Brands – Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Medallions
• Bixby – Nutty For Me Bixby Bites
• That's How We Roll – Mrs. Thinster's Cookie Thins Meyer Lemon

Gum & Mints Winner: Ferrero USA, Inc. – Tic Tac Gum Freshmint

• Perfetti Van Melle USA, Inc. – Airheads Gum, Watermelon
• The Hershey Company – Breath Savers Protect
• Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company – Extra Chewy Mints
• Mondelez International, Inc. – Purely Trident Peppermint