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    NCA Honors Most Innovative New Products

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Confectioners Association (NCA) honored companies that showcased imaginative ideas, concepts and products at the recently concluded 2014 Sweets & Snacks Expo by bestowing 45 Most Innovative New Product Award nominations.

    "The Expo's new product awards program demonstrates not only the outstanding innovation candy and snack makers apply to product development, but also sincere understanding of today's consumer," said Phil Lempert, Expo panel moderator and food trends editor for NBC's TODAY Show. "The program is one of the fastest-growing, most popular ones of its kind across a wide variety of consumer products, with submissions up nearly 25 percent over last year."

    One day prior to the Expo, which took place May 20-22 at Chicago's McCormick Place, an expert panel collaborated and taste-tested more than 280 product submissions to select the award nominees, the NCA reported. Panelists included Harry Balzer, trends expert for The NPD Group; Peggy Balboa, registered dietician for Mariano's Fresh Market; "Ace of Cakes" celebrity chef Duff Goldman; and the Food Network's Iron Chef winner and restaurateur Homaro Cantu.

    Also on the panel were executives from some of the top retailers of candy and snack products in the United States, including: Dollar General, Eby-Brown Co., Hy-Vee Inc., IT'SUGAR, Meijer Inc., Sam's Club, Safeway Inc., Walgreens and Walmart.

    The panel analyzed candy and snack segments, then rated submissions on taste, packaging, innovation and go-to-market feasibility to determine the 45 nominees. Retail and wholesale trade customers then voted on the winners in nine different categories, as CSNews Online reported in its live show coverage.

    The full list of nominees and winners is as follows:

    Chocolate
    The Hershey Co. – York Minis
    Kimmie Candy Co. – Salted Caramel ChocoRocks
    Mars Chocolate North America – Snickers Rockin' Nut Road
    Scho-ko-lade – Scho-ko-lade
    Winner: The Chocolate Traveler – TABASCO Chocolate Bars

    Non-chocolate
    Just Born Inc. – PEEPS Minis Sour Watermelon Flavored Marshmallow
    Candy Dynamics – Goop Gum Sour Liquid Filled Gum
    Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa – Coffee Thins Peppermint
    Hillside Candy – GoOrganic Fruit Chews
    Winner: Jelly Belly Candy Co. – Jelly Belly Draft Beer Jelly Beans

    Sweet snacks
    Mars Chocolate North America – TWIX Bites Unwrapped
    Stuff 'n Mallows – Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Stuffed Marshmallows
    That's How We Roll – Mrs. Thinsters Cookie Thins Brownie Batter
    That's How We Roll – Mrs. Thinsters Cookie Thins Chocolate Chip
    Winner: Bare Snacks – Crunchy Coconut Chips "Show Me the Honey"

    Salty snacks
    Giant Snacks – Giant's Sriracha Sunflower Seeds
    Hardbite Chips – Hardbite Lightly Salted Parsnip Chips
    Oberto Brands – Oberto Spicy Buffalo Style Chicken Strips
    POP! Gourmet Popcorn – Fire Corn White Cheddar Jalapeno Popcorn
    Winner: Gourmet Basics – Slim Chips White Cheddar

    Savory snacks
    Edward Marc Chocolatier – Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Snappers
    Flamous Brands Inc. – Flamous Spicy Fiesta Chips
    Cheesewich – Cheesewich Colby Jack Cheese & Salami
    Ripple Brand Collective – Bark Thins Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seeds
    Winner: POP! Gourmet Popcorn – Sriracha Popcorn

    Novelty/licensed
    Concord Confections Inc. – Fizzers Fizzing Bubble Gum
    Ford Gum & Machine Co. Inc. – Big League Chew Bubblegum Baseball
    Ford Gum & Machine Co. Inc. – Flavor Ice Cherry Bubblegum filled with Blue-Raspberry Powder
    Jelly Belly Candy Co. – Jelly Belly Disney Princess Slipper
    Winner: Leaf Brands/Astro Pop LLC – Sour Farts Flow Pack

    Seasonal
    Atkinson Candy Co. – Sophie Mae Gingerbread Pecan Brittle
    Ferrara Candy Co. – Brach's Caramel Macchiato Candy Corn
    Ferrara Candy Co. – Brach's Peppermint Crème Jelly Candy Canes
    Just Born Inc. – PEEPS Orange & Crème Flavored Marshmallow Chicks
    Winner: Vigneri Chocolate – Doodle Egg

    Gourmet/premium
    Lir Chocolates – Guinness Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar
    Hammond's Candies – Hammond's Whoopie Pie Chocolate Bar
    Chuao Chocolatier – Oh My S'mores!
    Chuao Chocolatier – Pretzel Toffee Twirl
    Winner: Ripple Brands Collective – Bark Thins Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconuts

    Gum & Mints
    The Hershey Co. – Ice Breakers Cool Blasts Chews
    Vitaball, Inc. – Vitamingum Fresh Cinnamon
    Wm. Wrigley Co. – Altoids Arctic, Peppermint
    Wm. Wrigley Co. – Juicy Fruit Fruity Chews
    Winner: Project 7 – Project 7 Coconut Lime

    Show attendees also selected the inaugural Best in Show Prize, which was awarded to The Hershey Co.'s York Minis.

    "Once again, we saw new trends emerge in the candy and snacks category, including exciting and wild flavor combinations, as well as innovative twists on flavor favorites," said Tim Quinn, Expo chairman and vice president of trade relations at Mars Chocolate North America. "There's no other category where you'll find Sriracha-flavored snacks next to a Guinness chocolate bar next to a snack featuring dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds."

    The 2015 Most Innovative New Product Awards will be presented at next year's Sweets & Snacks Expo, to be held May 19-21 in Chicago.

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