Last week, I was lucky to fulfill every child’s dream and work a booth at the National Confectioners Association Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago. I was assigned to work for Sahagian & Associates, who produce yards of bubble gum, licorice, and caramel corn as well as one-foot tubes of bubble gum, licorice, malted milk balls, jelly beans, taffy, and sour sweets.
While the long days were pretty exhausting for someone who usually spends all day typing nonsense into a computer, it was all worth it for the samples. Oh my gosh, the samples. Every candy and snack you can think of and thousands that you’ve never heard of were represented at the expo. This was the candy store for candy stores.
One of the centerpieces of the event was a model of The Chicago Bean constructed out of Jelly Bellys — but between all of the spectacles and gimmicks were some pretty innovative new products that are sure to be sweeping the nation very soon.
Check out some of the coolest products from the convention below, including milk-flavoring straws, bacon jerky, and ketchup-flavored potato chips.
1. Icee Squeeze
Ever hit 4:20 a.m. and crave a slushy but the last thing you want to do is schlep to the nearest 7-Eleven? Well, now you can have a full stock of them in your freezer ready to go.
2. Yummy Chow
The description on the bag says it all – sweetened chocolate peanut butter corn cereal. I baby-sat my friend's adorable puppy this weekend and I think his facial expression when we went on a four-mile walk Saturday when it was 72 and sunny with a slight breeze was the same as the look on my face when I first saw and tasted these delicious treats.
3. Magic Milk Straws
The adorability of the cows on these labels makes you wonder why more people don’t have them as pets. These straws certainly make it more fun to drink a glass of milk, all you have to do is dip one of the straws into your glass and start sipping – the flavor beads inside the straw will flavor your milk.
4. Bacon Jerky
Does this even need an explanation? In case you’re wondering, it tastes better than it sounds. In related news, did I mention that my cholesterol levels were normal before tasting this jerky?
5. Dippin’ Dots Candy
Flix Candy recently came out with an ice cream-flavored candy version of the space-age treat, Dippin’ Dots. The flavors are available in cookies and cream and banana split.
6. Jalapeño Poppers Cheese Curls
These are basically like Spicy Cheetos except better.
7. Ketchup Potato Chips
Apparently, these are big in Canada. Not really my style but who am I to judge if they’re yours?
8. Jack Link’s Big Dippers
Jack Link’s has created some pretty novel jerkies in the past – Cholula Hot Sauce beef jerky, anyone? But this new product, Big Dippers, featuring beef sticks and cheesy dipping sauce takes the cake.
9. Sahagian Yard of Bubble Gum
Here’s company founder Linda Sahagian holding up one of the tubes for proper perspective. How many gum balls do you think are in a yard?
10. Flip Flop Mints
It would be cooler if you could wear these, like the Reef flip-flops with bottle openers on the bottom.