On Wednesday I attended a great candy, chocolate, and gum showcase called “The Sweet Spot”, featuring hot trends and new products in the candy world. It was a well organized show, broken up into areas or rooms based on how one would use each product. It was a great idea because with over 70 products, it would have been way too overwhelming and hard to remember any information. We were brought through the rooms on a tour where our guide briefly described products and we sampled any that caught our interest.

I did not sample anything made with artificial food coloring (since I’m allergic) so you won’t get any taste opinions on the new Mike and Ike or Jelly Belly flavors, but they do have some cool sounding new flavors. I also did not sample every non-colored item either since there was just too much to sample, but I was given at least one of everything to take home so stay tuned for more reviews as the days go by. (I am going to be so fat by Christmas.)

On the Go
Nestle Butterfinger and Crunch both come in Stixx versions. At 90 calories each, they make good purse stuffers. I liked how the Butterfinger Stixx are less sweet than the Butterfinger Bar, which I don’t like just because of how sweet it is. The Crunch Stixx is still too sweet.

CocoaVia Chocolate Beverage – Marketed as part of the heart healthy product line, the CocoaVia chocolate drink guarantees flavanol levels. It’s the adult chocolate milk, made with skim milk and less sweet than your childhood version.

Living Room
Toblerone – A Swiss chocolate that we’re pretty familiar with in the US, now has more sizes and gift bags. This is Lon’s favorite, commercially available chocolate bar. I also learned that in Europe, Toblerone is most used for chocolate fondue. I tried a strawberry dipped in the fondue (which was made with Toblerone, cream, and vegetable oil) and I was surprised to find that I didn’t like it that much. It was a bit too gooey.
Ghiradelli – This San Francisco (hey, we were just there) chocolate company has always been one of my favorites for commercially available chocolate for both eating and baking. They now have a new line of Intense Dark with flavors like Mint Bliss, Citrus Sunset, Toffee Interlude, Espresso Escape, and Twighlight Delight (Plain chocolate in 72% Cocoa). I tried the Twighlight Delight. Yum!

Dining Room
Dove Extra Dark – The 63% cocoa chocolate is very smooth, but the packaging is not up to par with the other new dark chocolate lines that seem to be the trend.
Cote D’or – Our tour guide promised we’d be seeing a lot more of this Belgium chocolate since its recent partnership with Kraft Foods. This is good news since it was a good chocolate.

Kids’ Area
Hot Tamales Sprays – This was the only one I tried in this area since the rest were colored. Maybe kids like spraying candy flavors in their mouths, but I didn’t and it’s hard to aim without getting some on your face or hair.
Bubble Roll Message Maker – This was one of the coolest products! Taking Bubble Tape to the next level is two types: one where you can print letter by letter onto the bubble tape and one where it prints IM language (LOL, OMG, etc.) onto the bubble tape. I would’ve been one of those 10-year old girls handing messages to girlfriends on bubble tape.

Bathroom & Home Office
These areas had tons of gums and mints. I didn’t try any yet and I’m not a big fan of mint flavors but the trend seems to be cool, sleek packaging, and products that clean or whiten teeth.

Holiday Area
Intense Dark Moments Gift Box – This Ghiradelli Gift Box comes with a wine pairing guide.
Hershey’s Fresh From the Factory – You can now purchase certain Hershey’s products fresh from the factory, which means eating it within 96 hours from leaving the production line. I sampled a factory fresh Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and there is a difference. The chocolate tastes the same but the peanut butter doesn’t. You can taste the freshness and the texture is much smoother. I’m not enough of a candy fan to pay those prices but it makes a great gift for a fanatic.

Wine Pairing
Cacao Reserve by Hershey’s – I was very impressed by this line by Hershey’s. I didn’t expect this kind of quality from them. My favorite is the Premium Dark Chocolate Truffles that come eight in a tin (similar to an Altoids tin). I like the idea of being able to carry around truffles with me. The truffles also come in milk chocolate and while I’m not normally a fan, it is amazing when paired with a chilled white Riesling (Michael Mondavi). This will definitely become a new bad habit of mine, sitting on my couch with truffles and white wine.

One of the major trends that The Sweet Spot seemed to highlight, is
good quality chocolate hitting the mass market at reasonable prices. Hershey’s, Mars, Kraft, and Nestle are all entering the premium market by creating lines of dark chocolate and improving the packaging. They’re more expensive than a candy bar from your local magazine shop but way less than chocolate from La Maison Du Chocolate. At somewhere between $3.99-$10 for a bar or small package, I think this market is going to soar. These products make great gifts and you won’t feel bad treating yourself either.

posted by jessica at 02:48 PM Filed under Products. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.