Greetings from Chicago! I'm here in the Windy City to attend the All-Candy Expo
, which bills itself as the world's largest trade show for candy, snacks and sweets. I'm in no position to dispute this claim, as the show is indescribably, overwhelmingly enormous. There are hundreds of companies displaying their wares, from small mom and pop confectioners to huge megacorporations. It's been fascinating to meet representatives from such a wide variety of candy companies and to see, hear, and taste the future of candy. The Expo continues for the next two days, so I feel as if I'm just scratching the surface of what's being offered. So far, here are some of the trends I've noticed:
- Organic candy, especially organic chocolate
- Upscale artisan chocolate, with an emphasis on sourced and single-origin chocolates
- Candies with a greater emphasis on natural sweeteners like fructose, as opposed to sucrose or artificial sweeteners
- Candies fortified with antioxidants, omega-3s, and vitamins
- Similarly, candies with trendy health ingredients like green tea, pomegranate and goji berries
- Popping chocolate. Iíve already seen three different brands out with a chocolate bar that features pop rocks-like candy inside that fizz and pop when you bite into it
- Soft licorice. There are lots of licorice companies here, many with exotic flavors like black cherry and pineapple.
Iíve posted pictures from the first day in a photo gallery
. Check out the gallery to see some gorgeous chocolate sculptures (like the bowls at right), creative candies, fun booth designs, and even an Elvis impersonator selling (what else?) giant Elvis Pez dispensers!
Chocolate Bowl Photo ©2008 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to About.com, Inc.