I’ve gotten to do many fun things as a food blogger, and it seems like every year gets better. The annual Sweet and Snacks Expo hosted by the National Confectioners Association which I attended this past month, may just have topped it all and was most certainly the sweetest cherry on top.
It was my first time attending this five-acre expansive expo of all the amazing candy and snack products, and insights like no other. Attending as media with a special pass dangling in my neck throughout, added even more joy to it.
Bonus was that the expo was held at McCormick Place in the South Loop where I live stones throw away my home. Everything just aligned perfectly and blessed by the sugar gods up above.
The venue couldn’t have been more apt for an event this size. Two gigantic halls packed with exhibitors, buyers, and some of the most amazing exhibits I’ve seen. THIS is the place, where a majority of the snacks and candy business gets done, and I got be in the center of all of it! More than 18,0000 confectionery merchants gathered from almost 100 countries around the world, creating such a high level of excitement.
As you can imagine, I sampled a plethora of foods and really got a behind-the-scenes taste of confectionery innovations yet to launch the market.
My favorite picks and finds from the expo had a little to do with my pescetarian goals in mind, but otherwise just ‘fishing’ for healthy snacks that mostly align with my healthy diet.
Modern Mill featured these delectable salad toppers in three distinct assortments, which I absolutely fell in love with. With only 70 calories of fat per serving, these crunchers make for healthy additions to any salad. I’m already conjuring a grilled salmon salad recipe in my mind to top with these.
The Mushroom Jerky from Shrooms, in my opinion, was one of the most revolutionizing snacks for me. It came in some mind-blowing flavors such as, fire roasted jalapeno and Mediterranean sea salt. Low in fat and high in protein and minerals, these dried, savory snacks could make a good meaty substitute for any meal.
Gem Gem came out with an all-natural chewy, kettle-cooked ginger candy made from real Indonesian ginger. These non-gmo and gluten free treats are packed with such authentic flavors of ginger that I can comfortably say goodbye to throat lozenges for a future sore throat, and just suck on one of these mini ‘gems’!
The Hungry Buddha Brands Co. is coming out with a coconut jerky that’s out of this world. And as if that’s not enough, they also have a sparking coconut water in three favors, the watermelon being y favorite. I initially (in my head) thought this was a strange snack, but one bite in I wondered why no one had thought of it previously. What a great way to minimize water and coconut wastage! The jerky I tried was raw, refined, sugar-free and gluten-free. Good for the planet, good for the body!
The Indian in me naturally veered towards the Saffron Road table and I felt like I finally discovered y favorite version of these chickpea snacks. Roasted to crunchy perfection, they were seasoned with spices acquired from all around the world. Only organic chickpeas are used with about 5 g per serving. Bravo! The Bombay Spice flavor was my favorite, surprise, surprise!
For you breakfast lovers, Sun Butter could change your life. It has changed mine for the past week, as I’m using the jar I got to bring home in almost everything. Both the texture and tastes are the best of all nut butters out there, in my view.
They were even giving out recipes to a delicious Blueberry Muffin No-Bake Oatmeal Energy Balls, that I can assure you I’ll be making soon. The only caveat is you must love sunflower seeds to love the sun butter. It’s also one of the top 8 allergen-free foods out there. Get yourself a jar, asap!
I’m a breakfast bar freak and can proudly say that I’ve tried most of them out there, but sometimes I just want t to indulge in candy during my hunger pangs, and now I’ve found a protein bar that can satisfy those cravings without giving me a sugar high or the guilt. The Japanese Black Thunder Chocolate bar has a cocoa cookie filling, cookie bits, and a scrumptious chocolate coating. What’s healthy about it you may ask? Well, its only 110 calories and 6 grams of fat, but with all the explosive chocolate flavors the chocoholic in you could desire.
Pa Popcorn was giving away canned sweet popcorn and my only regret is I didn’t take more than one jar of their finger-licking chocolate one. Popcorn will never be the same and sweet may just have overpowered savory where popcorn is concerned. Such addictive treats!
The expo was such a blast and I also felt like I learned so much. Exhibitors seemed eager to share and give the backstory on products and many samples were handed out to take home and try. I definitely felt like a kid in a candy store. Sweet and Snacks Expo is the best kind of candy land there is out there!