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Top 6 trends for your sweet tooth

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

When you can't resist candy

You are dedicated to a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes, whether it be a childhood craving, that time of the month, or a sweet cause for celebration, you simply can't resist a candy craving. You aren't alone. Candy makers and chocolatiers are fast-creating novel noshes to keep up with consumer demand. Get a look at the sweet upcoming trends in candy.

The demand for candy is up

The DataMonitor ProductScan reported that over 3,200 new confectionery products debuted in 2007. Confectioneries and chocolatiers are not merely creating products in hopes you will buy, they are creating products due to consumer demand. Jelly BeansThat means people haven't completely shunned candy, especially since chocolate is a hot (usually healthy) pick and that health-conscious people have managed to integrate a little sweet tooth indulgence into their healthy lifestyles.

The All Candy Expo 2008, the largest candy and snack show in North America presented by the National Confectioners Association (NCA) unites industry experts and more than 430 confectionary manufacturers annually to preview new confectionery products and determine the hottest trends for the coming year. Here are NCA's predicted sweet treat trends for 2008/2009, driven by the consumer sweet tooth.

Here's a look at the leading trends in this candy land:

1. Authentic and Artisan

Gourmet fruit and chocolate: Many new premium sweets and snacks are inspired by handcrafted classics and the timeless corner candy store. Candy makers are producing gourmet confections like elegantly boxed Craves!, a superior signature blend chocolate that is handmade in small batches with dried cranberries and just a touch of all natural orange for a luxurious, sweet and tangy gourmet experience.

Classic decadence: Capturing authentic American flavors, Russell Stover introduces the new American Classics line including New York Cheesecake Ganache, a silky cream cheese truffle that has a hint of raspberry, and Mississippi Mud Truffle, a rich, dark chocolate truffle center, drenched with an even denser, dark chocolate shell.

Cold Stone Jelly Bellies: Offering the signature flavors of the Cold Stone Creamery in a bite size jelly bean delight, Jelly Belly introduces Ice Cream Parlor Mix with true-to-life Cold Stone Creamery flavor favorites like Chocolate Devotion, Our Jelly BellyStrawberry Blonde, Birthday Cake Remix, Mint Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Apple Pie a la Cold Stone.

2. Helpful (Healthy) Helpings

From organic to sugar-free and nutrient-packed to cause-related confections, new sweet treats offer savvy consumers a range of better-for-you options.

Chocolate covered soybeans: Enjoy a naturally sweet snack that is packed with soy protein and a good source of calcium and fiber with Landgarten Organic Soy-Snack, which is exclusive Austrian-grown soy beans covered in smooth Belgian milk chocolate.

Naturally-sweetened Gummies: Get a vitamin boost with Sunkist Better for You! Fruit Gummies with natural fruit juices providing 100 percent of the daily recommended dose of Vitamin C with 35 percent less sugar than some other gummy candies.

Confections with a cause: Clip on Aura Clip'n'Go Mints with the pink ribbon to support the fight against breast cancer (a portion of proceeds from these specially marked mints are donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation). Bloomsberry & Co. Climate Change Chocolate bar provides a verified TerraPass offset of 133 pounds of carbon dioxide reductions (the average American's daily carbon footprint) and the packaging includes 15 helpful hints for saving energy.

3. Chocolate Evolution

Chocolate is being paired in innovative ways and is even popping up in classic candies likes Peeps, now available in Chocolate Mousse Flavored Bunnies and Bears as well as in PEZ Chocolate-flavored pieces.

Peanut butter and chocolate: Who needs a PB&J, when you can have a PB&C! For a decadent chocolate and creamy combination, try the new Milk & Peanut Butter from Ghirardelli,bliss chocolate a bar of gourmet milk chocolate squares filled with smooth, creamy and crunchy peanut butter.

Chocolate covered fruits and nuts:
Chocolate-covered sweets continue to thrive like Melzy Enterprises Inc.'s Figamajigs, bite-size figs draped with decadent dark chocolate. Kohler also has dipped into chocolate with the new Original Recipe Chocolates Cherry Almond, a gourmet dark chocolate bar lusciously crafted with dried fruit, almonds and pure vanilla.

If you can't get enough chocolate, check out Chocolate Therapy: New healthier chocolates.

4. Traditional Twists

Manufacturers are expanding the portfolio of some of consumers' favorites. These confections are for people who eat with their senses.

Classics gone chewy:
Lemonhead Chewy and Chewy Atomic FireBall from Ferrara Pan Candy Co. are new, easy to chomp, chewy candies, packed with the classic favorite flavors consumers know and love. And Wonka Giant Chewy Nerds from Nestle offer a chewy, gooey jelly-bean-like center, covered in a layer of classic, crunchy Nerds (or is it Nerd?).

Ridiculously flavorful: Adding dimension to the chewing gum category, Cadbury Adams introduces Stride Always Mandarin, The Ridiculously Long Lasting Gum with a mouth-watering orange-flavor.

5. Sensory Experiences

New products offer a full sensory experience for your taste buds, whether it's a pop, crackle or tickle.

Snap, Crackle and Melt: The new Pop Rocks Mega Bar not only melts on your tongue, but pops in your mouth and WOWzerz Sour Powder Bubble Gum starburst and nerdsreleases tongue tickling sour powder from an extra-long log of bubblegum!

Liquid-filled Starbursts: Delivering a juicy explosion in every bite, Starburst GummiBursts marries the original fruity flavors of Starburst with a liquid-filled twist.

Hot, hot, hot chocolate: For a mature palate, try Hershey's Bliss Milk Chocolate with a Meltaway Center or Chuao Chocolatier's ChocoPods Firecracker, which is a 60 percent dark chocolate shell filled with chipotle chile, salt and a "tongue-bursting" center. Now that is spicy!

6. Packaging Innovations

Thinking outside the box, new packaging is providing a fresh look and feel for confections.

New and functional: New tic tac Chill, available in Exotic Cherry or Paradise Mint, comes in a trendy, handy on-the-go flip top case. Wrigley's Slim Pack offers a sleek, 15-stick envelope that helps keep gum fresher longer for favorites like Juicy Fruit, Doublemint and Big Red.

Whether you have a daily weakness for candy or simply enjoy the occasional indulgence, these trends will be hot this year, giving you a sweet selection of candies to try when you just can't deny your sweet tooth.

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