Saturday, June 10, 2000

This is 'snot' the average candies

Expo showcases new, old sweets

By Dave Carpenter
The Associated Press

        CHICAGO — The array of products on display at North America's largest candy trade show is a staggering tribute to the power of a sweet tooth — and a bit overwhelming to the candy layman.

        So, like any reporter in unfamiliar territory, I sought help from an expert: my 7-year-old son.

        The verdict on the All Candy Expo from my sugar authority: Boogers are big. Stinky feet taste great. And fine art is especially palatable when rendered in chocolate.

        “It was super cool!” said Drew Carpenter, a first-grader who has followed the candy industry closely for about seven years.

        “There was a ton of awesome candy there, and they gave out a lot of free stuff. Can we go back tomorrow?”

        Sorry, son. The Pet Tarantula candy, make-your-own lollipop rat and Chuck E. Cheese gummies will have to be eaten another day.

        Thursday was the last of three days of viewing, sampling and ordering from 380 gum and candy makers by some 15,000 buyers from around the world.

        Products that scored at this show will eventually show up in Halloween trick-or-treat bags, Christmas stockings and Valentine's Day packages around the world.

        “It's the Super Bowl or World Series of the candy world,” said Larry Graham, president of the National Confectioners Association, sponsor of the event and main trade group for the $25 billion industry.

        Without even trying, Drew and I spotted three booger candies — including Yuckers and Yummy Booger (actual slogan: “You think it's candy, but it's snot!”)

        It's hard to convey the thrill a 7-year-old experiences in spotting an actual booger-related product — a reaction marketers have studied in great depth.

        “Boogers!” Drew burst out in grinning disbelief when he spied a slimy green candy of that name at the booth run by Tom and Sally's Handmade Chocolates of Brattleboro, Vt.

        Proving how far grossness has come in the candy trade, Tom and Sally also proudly displayed chocolate cow chips, moose pies, road apples and monkey muffins.

        Drew also taste-tested numer ous other products, most of them new:

        „Xploder Bar, from the Willie Wonka Candy Factory. A crunchy milk chocolate bar that “explodes” in the mouth: Big thumbs-up. “It's still popping! It's up into my ears! ... It just stopped.”

        „M&Ms, made by Mars Inc. Can't get too many. “I can't believe they make a billion of them every day. I was going to ask how many grains of sugar they put in one M&M, but I forgot.”

        „Chocolate Pictures, from Hearts & Flowers Candy Co. Edible copies of famous paintings and other images. “Van Gogh is yummy! It doesn't taste funny at all.”

        „Icky Licky Stick candy, from the Cap Co. “It's this really weird ear wax thing. You have to lick around a plastic ear to get the candy. Really gross! Really yummy!”

        „Severed Fingers and Toes, Jelly Eye Balls, Pickled Brains, from the Gruesome Gummy Co. “Gross! Weird! But I like 'em.”

        „Sour Stinky Feet, from Toe-Food Chocolates. Gummy feet from a company started by a podiatrist 16 years ago. “They taste good, and they don't really stink.”

        „Hershey's chocolate bars. “Plain ol' regular chocolate — it's the best.”


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- This is 'snot' the average candies