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The Best (and the Worst) of Sweets and Snacks Expo 2011

By Anthony Todd in Food on May 27, 2011 3:00PM

Every year, we think that the offerings of Sweets and Snacks Expo can't possibly get any better (or worse) than the year before. The highs are so high and the lows are so so low, yet each time we visit, things get even better. "Removable" gum! Baby Bottles filled with Xylitol! Caffeinated Sunflower Seeds! Take a look at our favorite snacks of 2011, learn about new candy trends, and continue to marvel at what these people come up with.

Last year, Sweets and Snacks Expo was all about the energy candy - caffeine, vitamins, meth, whatever - and thankfully, that trend seems to have calmed down. At the same time, the trend towards "healthy" candy (organic, natural or fruit/nut-based) has increased. At the disturbing meeting of the two trends lie "Zips Energy Seeds" - caffeinated Sunflower Seeds - and "Sleep Squares" - chocolate designed to drug you into a stupor.

Along the "healthy" lines, there were a lot of great products. Flax was a big winner this year, with tons of bars and chews filled with fiber. Our favorite "healthy" product was the delicious (and Vegan) "Justin's All-Natural" line of nut butters - small packs of Almond and Peanut butter, with chocolate or maple flavoring. Decadent and tasty. On there other side of the spectrum, more products emerged to try to trick your children into eating fruit - witness "Buddy Fruits," the "blended fruit to go" product that is a "snacking alternative to whole fruit." An apple is about as self-contained a snack as you can get - and the product reminds us unhappily of "GoGoSqueez," one of our least favorite products from a couple years ago.

Sometimes, otherwise good products are burdened by bad names, bad marketing, or a just plain stupid idea. "Fizzies," a retro sparkling drink tablet, is actually a pretty tasty product - but this year, they've introduced fizzing hot chocolate tablets, meant to be mixed with hot milk. Forgive us for saying so, but if our milk starts to fizz, we're running to another room before the monsters come out. Our single favorite product of the expo (if by favorite we mean "we'd buy this ourselves") was a bag of all-natural roasted cashews, lightly flavored with evaporated cane sugar. The one big problem was the name: YumNuts. Sigh. "Rev7" gum is based on a real-life problem - gum sticks to clothes and furniture. The inventor created a new polymer to chew on that can be scrubbed out with soap and water - unfortunately, it was branded "removable" gum, which makes it sound as if we're meant to store it under our chair for later.

Take a look at some more highs and lows in the photo captions. If you're in the mood for more candy amusement, check out our roundups from the last few years. Trust us, they are worth a look.