Salty or Sweet?

If you like snacks -and let's face it, if you don't like snacks we're a little worried about you - the debate is always whether you prefer salty snacks or sweet snacks. If you're like us you just go back and forth in the endless quest to find the best snack. In an effort to answer that debate we attended the Sweets & Snacks Expo last week in Chicago. Your Chief Ambassadors were literally like two kids in a candy and snack shop. From getting a ride on the Pez-cycle to tasting all the latest snacks, we had a ball. 

 

Innovation is alive and thriving in the sweets and snacks category. Similarly to what we found at the recent National Restaurant Show many companies are focusing on healthful snacks. Gluten-free, organic, functional foods and nutraceuticals led the way. Portioned snacks for easy portability and lots of new flavors combinations - from Heinz Ketchup-flavored potato chips to edamame roasted, toasted and in chocolate - flooded the show floor. The snacks were from the USA and around the world from such places Brazil, France, Mexico, Australia, China and more. 

  

Seeing some of the old favorites like M&Ms, Bulls-Eye, Mary Jane, Smarties, Mike & Ike, Clark Bars, Salt Water Taffy and more made us long for the old penny candy days. 

A panel of industry experts selected 40 nominees and expo attendees chose this year's most innovative new products in 8 catogeries. Here are the winners - Hammond's Candies PB&J Sandwich milk chocolate bars in the chocolate category. Skittle Riddles from Wrigley in the non-chocolate category. Jelly Belly Candy Co.'s Uno Gift Box in the novelty category. M&Ms Candy Corn from Mars Chocolate America for new seasonal item. Nopal Bros.'s Sweet & Spicy Nopalitos Dried Snacks for savory snacks. Nutella & Go from Ferreo U.S.A. won for sweet snacks and Brown & Haley won for the most innovative gourmet product with Dark Roca. 

Now, perhaps you're wondering what were our favorites? Well, wonder no more! Here they are...

  

Tasty Brand Organic Splash Fruit Snacks - These little wonders replace a candy that Chief Ambassador Sue has been searching for forever. She had purchased a sugar-coated jelly candy years ago in Naples, Italy. They were delicious and of course she could never find them again. Last week the search ended. After skeptically trying these fruit marvels she was very pleasantly surprised to find her new favorite snack. And to make matters even better - they're actually good for her. These naturally flavored snacks are organic,  have no high-frutose corn syrup, no artificial colors, flavors or perservatives, 100% daily value of antioxidant Vitamin C, are non-GMO and vegan, gluten-free and allergan free, fat-free and cholesterol-free. They also contain electrolytes for hydration, which makes this a perfect travel-freindly snack. Created by two innovative Moms these snacks are family-friendly and soon to be a hit in your home. You can learn where you can find them on their website. If you're into games, be sure to check out their new app Gummy Riot! it's a great game for all ages. 

 

EnjoyLife Plentils Crunchy Lentil Chips - We want to eat healthier chips but they always taste nasty. Plentils just broke out of that mold. Made from lentils, these chips are not only tasty but they're gluten free and free of 8 common allergens. 40% less fat than leading potato chips and nothing artificial, nothing! Lentils are also a wonderful source of plant-based protein. Available in four flavors - light sea salt, dill & sour cream, garlic & parmesan and margherita pizza. Check out the EnjoyLife website on where to find them near you. Did we mention that the EnjoyLife brand is a Chicago-based company? And that the products are available at one of our favorite neighborhood grocery stores, Caputo's? Just two more reasons to make them one of our new favorites. They also carry a full line of cookies, candy, cereals, granolas and snacks - all gluten-free!

  

Gimbal's Cherry Lovers Fruit Chews - Did we mention cherry is our favorite flavor? Not the fake cherry, but real cherry. When we first came upon this treat we couldn't stop staring at the 13-ounce bag. 9 flavors of cherry, made with real cherry juice...too good to be true! Wild cherry, cherry vanilla, black cherry, chocolate cherry, cherry cheesecake, cherry daiquiri, cherry cola, kiwi cherry and the favorite - bing cherry - each cherry flavor tastier than the next. These gluten-free morsels are also loaded with antioxidant Vitamin C making this sweet treat even better. We were pleased to hear that the company - which makes this candy in the USA - is donating all the leftover candy samples from the show to our military troops. If that doesn't make you a fan of Gimbal's we don't know what will. Available online and at Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid and KMart. 

 

Yum Junkie's Gumby & Pokey Gummies - You know we love nostalgia and we love anything that brings us back to the "good old days." So when we saw the Gumby & Pokey Gummies, we squealed with joy. Always a big fan of the adventurer duo we had to try them in their new and exclusive gummy form. They were simply delicious! The green apple Gumby and orange-mango Pokey continue to make a wonderful pair. They have the soft consistancy of the traditional gummy so if you like gummies you'll love these too. They'll soon be coming out with a jumbo sized version of Gumby, so stay tuned for that as well. 

Sensible Foods Sweet Corn Crunch Dried Snacks - We thought this was the most unique snack at the Expo. 100% crunch dried corn. Naturally low in fat, gluten-free and only 40 calories in the whole package. This "good for you" snack is just darn tasty and the packaging is perfect for lunch bags, purses and briefcases. Crunchy, salty and just a bit sweet this may be the perfect snack food.  As the package says it's 100% sweet corn, sea salt and nothing else! And, if you have a little water with them, you'll feel completely satisfied until your next meal. There are several dried fruit blends, edamame and soy nuts that are just as good and just as good for you.

 

Walkers Stem Ginger Biscuits - They get a shout out simply because we love them. We've been searching for them in the states after eating them in London recently. Turns out they are available at Cost Plus or World Market seasonally but also available online. If you like ginger you'll love the chewy bits of stem ginger in these crunchy cookies.  The rep at the booth was kind enough to give us a box when we told him the whole woeful story about unsuccessfully searching for these delicious cookies. Thanks, Walkers! By the way, we also like their shortbread, even the cute little Scotties too.

 

So, savory or sweet? Or, a little of each? What's your favorite snack? Let us know on Facebook and we'll randomly pick out one lucky winner to receive a PoshPorts long-sleeve t-shirt!