Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Live from Chicago - It's Candy Expo!!

Oh my God.

I am overwhelmed. I have never seen so much candy in one place in my life. My head is spinning and I have ingested enough chocolate for 10 people.

To give you an idea of how big Candy Expo is, the NCA (National Confectioners Association) press release says the Expo "encompasses nearly 10 football fields." Ten. Think how big ONE football field is. This is ten. Holy God.

Believe me, that is a lot of booths. I realized early on I was going to have to focus only on chocolate to have any chance of making it through. (Jonny and Matty I have failed you - but I do have all the scoop for next year. And Haribo had a tasting bar - like a Haribo buffet. I wept that you weren't there. We'll have to talk.)

I don't have pictures for you - they are weird about that, but I might try to take some tomorrow. Some of the booths are pretty amazing. All are colorful and gorgeous. And look how much candy I have:

Do you see that? It's amazing and disturbing all at the same time. How will I ever blog about it all? How will I make good on all the promises I made to get the samples? What if some of the nicest people have the worst candy? I do think I might have sold my soul to get candy today. Well at least part of my soul. Or maybe I just prostituted myself.

It's not that there weren't plenty of samples everywhere. It was that sometimes I really wanted the good stuff. And it's not like I'm a buyer. These people are there to make money, not deal with random motivational speakers who blog. What the hell is that about anyway? So sometimes I had to make promises. Basically I was charming people into giving me the good stuff. (Yep - I'm a chocolate 'ho.)

But let me tell you - overall - this was one great group. Master Chef Michael Antonorsi fixed me a cup of fabulous hot cocoa and sat down and talked with me about his philosophy of chocolate making! He was gracious and wonderful and brilliant and kind. The Mars representative for Seeds of Change - I will have to get her name tomorrow - gave me one of all of their full sized bars! That would be seven different flavors! We discussed distribution and positioning - it was cool! Erik Hemp and Kathleen Wells of Nestle hooked me up with their new product - Baby Ruth Crisp - which totally rocks!! You'll have to get your hands on one of these when they come out. I might have to go by and get more tomorrow. I am a sick, sick woman.

I also attended a blogger luncheon (thanks Carl and Susan) and an official Mars press conference. YAHOO!! At the press conference, they talked about their new chocolate relief act - where they are giving away free chocolate and are making all their products with real chocolate (not fake chocolate which is what's in so many candy bars today). Check out http://www.realchocolate.com/ to read more and find out about your free chocolate. It's really sad that we THINK we're getting chocolate, but some candy makers are substituting cheaper ingredients for the cocoa butter. Bastards!

All the M & M's were at the press conference (no Naked Cowboy in sight) and we all got cool give away bags with more candy. And get this!! M & M's are coming out with two new flavors - coconut and strawberry & peanut butter. They are in the bag and I'll be reviewing soon!

Snickers has a fudge bar - I also have and will be reviewing soon.

Nestle has cranberry Raisinets (although can they be Raisinets if they are cranberry?) Who cares - I'll be reviewing them also.

Dove Promises are now available in peanut butter! YUM!

Reese's Dark is coming out. Also York Peppermint Patty Pieces and Almond Joy Pieces and Hershey Special Dark Pieces. Also Hershey's Bliss will be out in white chocolate.

Tootsie Pops are out in banana - limited edition.

How cool is all of this? I also came across many companies I had never heard of. And I skipped over all the gum and snack and sour and all the other crazy candies. I snubbed Russell Stover and Palmer because you know how I feel about them. But I may go by tomorrow for the hell of it. If it wasn't chocolate, I didn't bother. It's just all too big!

I need to go through all the literature and business cards I picked up and try and put everything in some kind of order. I'll be at the Expo all day tomorrow, then I have to fly out to Alabama for a speech on Thursday. Thursday night I'll be flying back to Raleigh. So it may be a few days before I post again, but trust me, it will be worth the wait!



diane said...

I love the photo. That's better than any ol' Halloween haul :)

d j / s p l i t said...

As I sit here in my office, not in Chicago, I can't help but feel TOTALLY FRIGGIN' JEALOUS!!!

A Haribo tasting bar?? I thought that was what heaven was!!!

Damn. Enjoy yourself! As my people say, "Next year in Jerusale--er, Chicago!"


Denise Ryan said...

Hee, hee - it's amazing, isn't it?? And Jonny - you are right - you HAVE to go next year. And I am mailing you guys something - keep your eyes peeled!!