Last updated: 01:00 AM ET, Wed June 10 2015

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | June 10, 2015 1:00 AM ET

    Top 5 Treats From the National Confectioners Association Sweets & Snacks Expo

    Top 5 Treats From the National Confectioners Association Sweets & Snacks Expo

    Photo via Twitter, all others by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    Every year, the National Confectioners Association holds an industry showcase of candy and savory goodies at the Sweets & Snacks Expo. Luckily for me, this year's show was hosted in Chicago and I had the chance to explore more than three and a half acres of candy and snacks, representing 570 companies from all over the globe.

    Frankly, the sheer number of vendors displayed at McCormick Place overwhelmed me. Literally everywhere I turned, there were candy or snacks to sample. Although I consider myself a champion candy connoisseur, the five hours that I spent tasting and comparing offerings sent me into a serious sugar overload. But I waded through so that I could find the best international sweets. I munched chocolate-filled, harmonica-playing koala bears, nibbled habanero-spiced Chick-O-Sticks, and gobbled dark chocolate and cherry cordial popcorn. It was a hard job but someone had to do it.

    Check out these top five international finds from the Sweets & Snacks Expo:

    Wolfgang Belgian Chocolate Ale

    So technically, Wolfgang Candy Company is one of the oldest family-owned candy brands in the U.S. so it's not really international but Belgian chocolate qualifies. Besides, the robust chocolate ale was easily the most memorable product at the expo. The limited edition black ale is infused with Belgian chocolate nibs for a mildly sweet flavor offset by the earthy flavor of hops. A chocolate and beer tasting was part of Wolfgang's exhibit and the unusual flavor and pairings definitely stood out.

    Yowie Chocolate Surprise from Australia

    Collectibles have proven to be much more than a kid’s hobby, with adults snapping up Beanie Babies and superhero figures faster than youngsters. In Australia, the Yowie craze was a pop culture explosion, with all ages rushing to collect these chocolate figures embedded with tiny animal playmates. Yowies have just been introduced to the U.S., and I was intrigued by the whole concept. A milk chocolate shell surrounds a plastic figure that opens to reveal a mini animal. It also includes a slip of paper that supplies info about the animal's habitat, what they eat, and if the species is threatened or not.

    The six characters that enclose the animals are “Guardians of the Natural World,” who educate on the environment and conservation. There's also an app and a Yowie World website for games and videos that feature the characters in natural habitats. I opened my Yowie to find a cute alpaca. Judging from the Ebay listings, these candies and collectibles are already a popular collectible obsession.

    Tortolines Plantain Chips From Ecuador

    A cousin of the banana, plantains are a staple in most tropical countries, and I love eating them in any form, from fried to dried. So I was excited to spot Tortolines plantain chips from Ecuador at the expo. Boasting no preservatives and just three ingredients of plantains, palm oil and salt, these crunchy chips offer a healthy alternative to potato chips. What really grabbed my attention were the different flavors available: lemon, sweet, spicy and my favorite, Thai flavored, which tasted like a sweet and zesty cracker.

    Jake Vitamincandy from Serbia

    I have to admit, I was super happy about the prospect of a candy that also provides vitamins. It's healthy candy right? I popped Jake's Vitamincandy in green tea and lime flavor into my mouth and mild sweetness with a slight tart aftertaste filled it. I immediately tried all of the flavors (peach, mango, tangerine, grape, raspberry) and enjoyed  every one. All of the candy supplies Vitamin C but my favorite blueberry coconut flavor provides vitamins C, B, and E.

    The company started in Serbia and is rolling out Vitamincandy in the U.S. I can't say how healthy the candy really is but I think it's a step up from regular mints and gum.

    Carolina Nut Company PB&J Peanuts

    You can't get more American than peanut butter and jelly, but I could not leave out this innovative snack. The Carolina Nut Company makes peanuts in unusual flavors including dill pickle, bacon ranch, honey roasted chipotle and Carolina BBQ, which I absolutely loved. But no flavor is more unusual than PB&J. These gourmet nuts are covered with a sweet jelly flavoring that blends with the natural peanut taste for a surprisingly addictive treat.

More Chicago


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
SeaWorld: One Moment of Inspiration

Impacting Travel