Chicago, IL (May 23, 2018) – At the National Confectioners Association’s 2018 Sweets & Snacks Expo, innovations in candy and snacks were recognized during the industry’s annual Most Innovative New Product Awards. The awards – including those for Best in Show and the newly added Small Business Innovator – highlight creative, innovative and fun products new to the marketplace.

The winners were selected from more than 300 new product award entries across nine candy and snack categories: chocolate; non-chocolate; sweet; salty; savory; novelty; seasonal; gourmet/premium; and gum & mints. Product submissions were rated based on four weighted criteria: taste, packaging, innovation and go-to market feasibility.

“Innovation and new products are key drivers of treating and snacking,” said John Downs, president and CEO of the National Confectioners Association. “Our Most Innovative Product Awards celebrate creative product development by category innovators. The competition is fierce, and the companies that have been recognized should be very proud of the contributions they make to advancing the fun and enjoyment of the category.”

The awards are sponsored by IRi, an innovator in big data known for the integration of the world’s largest set of purchase, media, social, casual and loyalty data. The company has long appreciated the role new product development plays in strengthening the category.

“Historically, innovation has driven about 7 percent of the growth in confections,” said Larry Levin, IRi’s executive vice president of consumer and shopper marketing. “New products spark excitement for the consumer and generate more opportunities for treating.”

This year’s Best in Show award was presented to Hostess Brands, LLC for Double Chocolate Cake Delights.

The judges presented the Small Business Innovator award to Vosges Haut-Chocolate for Hazelnut Cocoa Toast. The award recognizes companies with net sales under $500,000, giving them the opportunity to gain recognition amongst with well-established peers.

This year’s nominees and winners are:

Chocolate Winner:

The Hershey Company – Hershey’s Gold Standard Bar

Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. – Junior Mint Minis
Seattle Chocolate – Seattle Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake Truffle Bar
R.M. Palmer Company – Football FANtasy
Tru Fru LLC – Coconut Melts Freeze-Dried & Immersed in Dark Chocolate

Non-Chocolate Winner:

Nestle USA/Ferrara Candy Company – Big Chewy Nerds

Ferrara Candy Co. – SOUR BRITE SNEAKS
The Hershey Company – Jolly Rancher Misfits
Impact Confections, Inc. – HOTHEADS Scorching Heat Twists
Hammond’s Brands – Vanilla Caramel Marshmallow

Sweet Snacks Winner:

Justin’s – Justin’s Organic White Chocolate Mini Peanut Butter Cups

That’s How We Roll – Cinnamon Crumb Cake Thins
Edward Marc Brands, Inc. – Cookie Butter Snappers
Vidal Candies USA, Inc. – SPICY MANGOS
The Promotion In Motion Companies, Inc. – Superfruit Mix

Salty Snacks Winner:

Sahale Snacks – Sahale Snacks Tangerine Vanilla Cashew-Macadamia Glazed Mix

From the Ground Up – Cauliflower Pretzel Sticks
Perfect Snax – Butterfinger
Made in Nature, LLC – Veggie Pops / Salt and Pepper
Rudolph Foods Co, Inc. – Oven Baked Pork Rinds/Blackberry Habanero

Savory Snacks Winner:

Alli & Rose – Trail Mix Crackers

Cheesewich Factory – Bacon and Eggs
Kellogg’s – Cheez-It Duoz® Caramel Popcorn & Cheddar
Land O’Frost – Gone Rogue High Protein Chips
Clever Cookie – Baked Cheddar Protein Crisps

Novelty/Licensed Winner:

Impact Confections, Inc. – WARHEADS Dippin’ Ring

Bazooka Candy Brands, a Division of The Topps Company – Baby Bottle Popping Powder
PEZ Candy, Inc. – PEZ Jurassic World Click & Play Gift Tin
Jelly Belly Candy Company – Jelly Belly Krispy Kreme Doughnut Tin

Seasonal Winner:

Ferrero U.S.A., Inc. – Golden Heart for You & Me

Nestle USA – Big Chewy Nerds Reindeer Stocking Hanger
Jelly Belly Candy Company – Jelly Belly Love Beans Valentine’s Gift Box
Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC – Mars Wrigley Chocolate Variety mix party bowl
The Hershey Company – Hershey’s Kisses Hot Cocoa

Gourmet Winner:

That’s How We Roll – Trios/Original

Chuao Chocolatier – Ravishing Rocky Road Joy-Filled Caramels
KIWA – Native Andean Potato Chip Mix
Hammond’s Brands – Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Marshmallows
Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC – Dove Chocolate – cashews dipped in milk chocolate

Gum & Mints Winner:

Ferrero U.S.A., Inc. – Cool Tropical

Perfetti Van Melle USA, Inc. – Mentos CleanBreath
Mars Wrigley Confectionery US, LLC – Juicy Fruit Gum Collisions Strawberry Watermelon
The Hershey Company – Ice Breakers Deep Freeze Peppermint
Simply Gum – Cleanse / Grapefruit – Prickly Pear – Cayenne – Sea Salt

“Being selected for a prestigious award like NCA’s Most Innovative New Products Awards, acknowledged by retailers, is the pinnacle of accomplishments,” said IRi’s Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive vice president and practice leader. “Retailers are advocates for consumers, and they see the value these products will bring to their shoppers.”
To learn more about the Sweets and Snacks Expo, visit


About the National Confectioners Association (NCA)

The National Confectioners Association is the trade organization that advances, protects and promotes chocolate, candy, gum and mints, and the companies that make these special treats. As the leading association for the $35 billion U.S. confectionery industry, NCA educates the public to help ensure that it understands and appreciates the unique role that chocolate and candy can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle. Confections are produced in all 50 states, creating jobs for approximately 55,000 workers in more than 1,000 manufacturing facilities across the country. More than 400,000 jobs in agriculture, retail, transportation and other industries rely in part on the sale of confections for their livelihood. For every one job that is created by confectionery companies, another seven are supported in related industries. Learn more about the “Power of Sweet” at, or follow NCA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About the Sweets & Snacks Expo

Sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, the Sweets & Snacks Expo is the confectionery and snack industry’s most successful, world class event. It is unrivaled in new product launches, business building solutions and innovations in merchandising. 17,000 qualified professionals attend with global presence from 90 countries. More than 800 companies displaying more than 4 acres of candy and snack products participate in the Expo. The event is held each May at Chicago’s McCormick Place.