Brand Strategy & Design
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A Case of Mistaken Identity at Sweets & Snacks 2017?

June 9, 2017

Chicago hosted the Sweets & Snacks Expo this year from May 23-25. More than 17,000 professionals were in attendance, with more than 800 exhibitors, showcasing their latest innovations and product extensions. Among all the exciting finds, and tasty surprises, one theme rose above and captured all other themes: Mistaken Identity. Across the approximately 4 acres of showfloor, there was a predominant notion of borrowing from other food or flavor playbooks. Here are just some of the ways that we saw brands lifting and shifting from their neighboring categories.

Gums as Mints and Mints as Gums: Filed under “so obvious it must be innovative” were the confectionary mash-ups of mints becoming gums and vice versa. Wrigley’s Extra introduced chewy mints, while Tic Tac went the other direction and launched a line of minty gum. And beyond mints, Airheads introduced gum with “micro-candies.” We aren’t sure exactly when we will see a surge in claims of accidental gum swallowing, but we now know who to thank for it!

Sweet and Spice and everything nice: An easy indicator that an idea has moved from niche to national is when you see startups and major players showcasing similar products. This year, that idea was spicy profiles in sweets. Major brands like Starburst, Skittles, Warheads, and Jolly Rancher had new products to share. While across the floor, brands like Little Bird Kitchen and Old Dominion were bringing spice to sweet in a premium and crafted fashion.

“Rugged” Snacking: Hershey and Nestle both placed bets on “Trail Mix” style snacking, mixing sweet and salty in cluster or mix forms, as well as a growing number of “Bark” forms. These “Chocolate acting like a chip” confections from brands like 7th Street Confections, re-imagine a traditional piece of chocolate into a more substantial snack offering.