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Foodporn Thu May 28 2009
At last week's All Candy Expo, I wandered the aisles in search of what's new in the snacking world in terms of sweet and savory snacks--even though the event is the "All Candy Expo," the subtitle is "It's All About Sweets & Snacks." This breaks down into show floor that's a lot of candy, some nuts, a lot of chip brands, and more meat jerky companies than you ever thought were possible.
Needless to say, I found a lot of novelties, some tasty treats, and products I never thought were imaginable. Check them out after the jump.
Starting out with salty snacks:
- Pringles was on hand with samples of their Select line--think "gourmet Pringles in a bag," which can be a real troubling concept for the Pringles can devotee (at least, that's my opinion). The Parmesan Garlic flavor is pretty mild and would be good with a nice sandwich, but when you open the bag of Jalapeno Ranch, you really get a whiff of pepper. That's true for the taste too--it's really more jalapeno than ranch. Regular canned Pringles will also be coming out in new restaurant-appetizer flavors called Restaurant Cravers, including an onion blossom (very onion-y) and a Mexican dip (also pretty intense). For me, they--like all Pringles--were pretty addictive.
- Corazonas makes the claim that snacking can be heart healthy. Their tortilla and potato chips contain plant sterols that may help lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in your body by blocking its absorption. That's nice and everything, but how do they taste? Actually, quite good--the tortilla chips are light and crunchy, and when I tested them, they didn't snap off in a dip. Find them at Jewel, Dominick's, Costco, and 7-Eleven.
- If you've had Beer Chips, you haven't experienced the whole alcohol-in-chip-form taste. Beer Chips? Really sweet, not much like beer. Instead, look for Intoxi-Tators, a new chip line that's currently being test-marketed in Florida and should soon be available for sale online. This company dusts their chips with spice blends that mimic margaritas and bloody Marys. Overall, this approach leads to a better tasting chip.
- On the healthier front, Brothers All Natural makes these addictive Fruit Crisps that are freeze-dried fruit, but the end product is a puffy, crisp chip. They come in a variety of flavors--I had the Asian pear, which was slightly tart and sweet. The bag states that it contains about 1.5 pears, and it's only 40 calories per bag. Find them at Whole Foods, 7-Eleven, Costco, Wal-Mart, CVS, and online at Amazon and their site.
- Part food topping, part snack, Flax Super Snax is another product on the healthy, high-fiber track. It's flavored, roasted flaxseeds that come in four varieties: cinnamon, garlic, chocolate, and Mediterranean. You can eat it plain, or add it as a food topping. It didn't sound all that great, but it really tasted good--I'd totally put the savory blends on salads or pasta. I'm not totally convinced that the sweeter flavors would work on ice cream, but they're all right on their own.
- Probably my favorite salty snack of the event was Seapoint Farms' dry roasted edamame. I could eat this by the handful and not get tired of the way the roasting process really brought out some flavor in the edamame. Look for it at Costco and Target, or order online. Seapoint Farms has another new product on the way called KooLoos, which are tasty bite-sized balls of soy nuts and flaxseed.
Moving on to sweet snacks:
- Don't eat your chocolate, inhale it. Le Whif is a chocolate inhaler that's made for the calorie-conscious. It's one of four flavored cocoa powders that's inserted into a plastic apparatus that you open up and breathe in. You can get 3-4 hits off of one inhaler. Perhaps it will work for some people, but I'd rather eat real chocolate than try to savor some powder on my tongue.
- For your office keycard, you can get Fascini's Creatables, flavored candy ropes that are meant to be knotted together into bracelets or lanyards.
- Another kid-friendly item: Tung Toos, candy art for your tongue (see "Call Me" pic at top of post). This patented sweet is the brainchild of Jeanie Morgan, who created this sweet and sour tongue candy that comes in six flavors and comes in boys and girls-targeted varieties. If you've ever wanted to say, "OMG" just by sticking out your tongue, now's your chance. These are currently available in party packs in the party department at Wal-Mart.
- Do you ever get tired of those "save money by not going to Starbucks so much" tips? Well, if you need to cut back on your coffee (or Red Bull) consumption because it's become a pain in the wallet, consider using Crackheads or Jitterbeans as a caffeine supplement. A box of Crackheads chocolate-covered espresso beans contains 200 mg of caffeine; Jitterbeans chocolate-covered espresso beans contain 600 mg of caffeine per box. If you're counting, that's the equivalent of 6 cups of coffee, 7.5 energy drinks, or 11 sodas. They're not in stores around Chicago, but you can order them online.
- Mars, the company behind M&Ms and Snickers, also owns Seeds of Change, a seed company that has an organic foods division. They create rice dishes, frozen entrees, sauces, and dressings, and they have a line of organic chocolate bars. The bars themselves are large (almost 3 oz.), but what's neat about them is that each bar is divided into 3 individually-wrapped pieces, which really helps with portion control and keeping your uneaten product fresh. Choose from six flavors, including a nice dark chocolate and coconut. 1% of net sales are donated to sustainable organic agriculture causes around the world. Find them at Whole Foods, Jewel, Dominick's, and other health food stores.
- On the healthy, functional candy front, give Gimme a try. Made by Brightfoods, a Buffalo Grove-based company led by snack food veteran Tim O'Connor, these chocolate-covered rice balls (think malted milk ball, but with a rice puff center instead of the milk) come in three varieties: calcium, omega-3, and probiotics. I'm just glad I don't live by Fox & Obel, where you can get these for $1.99 for a 1 oz. bag. These babies are crazy good.
- Moving to non-chocolate sweets, G
üd F üd (pronounced "good food") is a line of stuffed marshmallows. This Las Vegas-based company produces their marshmallows in China and Japan, and they are more coin-shaped than our standard marshmallow. The stuffing is a thin layer of either fruit jelly or chocolate. The filling enhances the marshmallow taste without taking over. An interesting alternative, if you're watching your weight--they're only 17 calories each. Right now, you can only get them online (and they're giving away samples!).
- Yes, bacon and chocolate has gotten a lot of press, but how about the Maple Bacon Lollipop? Chicagoan Katie Das of Das Foods (the factory's in Wauconda) includes this flavor in her line of lollipops. Other flavors include salty caramel, ginger and lemon, and orange and pomegranate. Das also makes caramels and sells a range of salts. But how does the bacon lollipop taste? Well, it's not bad. The maple comes through first, a thick sweetness. Then you start tasting the smoky bacon pieces that are embedded into the lollipop. Neither flavor is totally overwhelming and you're mostly left with a light syrupy coating on your tongue. I'm not sure it's a product I'd eat a lot, but it's not awful. The caramels, on the other hand, are to die for. Find the products at several specialty food stores in the city.
- And finally, you knew this was coming (but are you shocked it took over 25 years?): A Christmas Story brand Ohh...FFFFUDGE!! Licensed by McJak Candy Company and sold in 9 oz. gift boxes, it'll be at Walgreens in time for holiday shopping.