“Birthday cake as a flavor has just been taking off,” and “we are predicting it will take over” as the No. 1 flavor for hard candy, bumping out cotton candy and bubble gum, said Toni Worobel, sales and marketing manager for Original Gourmet Food Company.
She explained at the Snacks and Sweets Expo in Chicago that Original Gourmet launched a birthday cake flavored lollipop this year after seeing how well consumers responded to the Jelly Belly Candy Company’s ColdStone Birthday Cake Remix jelly bean launched three years ago.
DeMets Candy Company also jumped on the birthday cake flavor train with a new line of birthday cake covered Flipz pretzels, which will ship Aug. 1. The pretzels sport brightly colored dots reminiscent of Pillsbury’s Funfetti cake mix and the associated joy of childhood celebrations.
A spokeswoman for DeMets said the flavor appeals to the brand because it is “youthful and fun,” and the company says 85% of consumers will purchase the new flavor incrementally.
The flavor is not just for children, but it also appeals to adults, said Lisa Brasher, CEO and president of the Jelly Belly Candy Company.
“Everyone has a birthday, so it is an everyday thing” that can be given as gifts or recall happy memories for everyone – helping keep sales steady, she explained.
The other appealing element of the flavor for adults is they can enjoy the taste of birthday cake without having to actually eat hundreds of calories of cake, added Worobel.
Modern updates for old fashioned flavors
Modern twists are helping bring back nostalgic flavors in confections, judging by the products launching at the Snacks and Sweets Expo in Chicago May 18-21.
For example, sours are a popular trend, said Karin Vollrath, director of sales and marketing at Gimbal’s Fine Candy.
The company created a Sour Lovers blend of gummy candies a few years ago and it is selling extremely well, she said.
“Sours were created in the ’80s and have not changed much since that point in time. And we found a lot of people who grew up with sours secretly still loved them, but were embarrassed because they looked junky” with neon colors and outdated shapes, she said. “So we said, lets take this and go upscale.”
The blend includes 12 sour flavors, including several “fresh picked” flavors, such as sour cherry, and “new but not bizarre” flavors, including sour mango and pomegranate, she said, emphasizing that the fresh and exotic tie into emerging trends for healthy and bold, complex flavors.
Wolfgang also is launching a modern take on old-fashioned soda fountain flavors, combining root beer float and orange cream soda flavors with chocolate covered mini-pretzels, which launched at the expo.
CEO Ben McGlaughlin said the flavors are nostalgic for summer and will be a fun seasonal item. In the future, Wolfgang will explore other soda flavors for additional or limited time lines, he said.
Original Gourmet also launched a “party punch” flavored lollipop, which recalls the juice boxes packed in children’s lunchboxes, said Worobel. The firm almost named the flavor juice box, but thought party punch sounded more sophisticated and would help the flavor appeal to adults.
Finally, old fashioned black licorice seems to be making a comeback with consumers, said Worobel. She explained in the past year, multiple people have requested a black licorice lollipop, but that Original Gourmet likely will not oblige because the taste is too strong for a candy that can last for up to an hour.
However, Jelly Belly and Gimbal’s have no such qualms, noting their licorice options are selling well.
Adult beverage inspired flavors
Adult beverages, including coffee and cocktails, also are increasingly popular flavors, Worobel and Brash agreed.
Original Gourmet is creating caffeine infused coffee-flavored lollipops that likely will launch in September, including a seasonal pumpkin latte, cappuccino, mocha latte “and stuff like that.”
The lollipop maker also is exploring a line of cocktail flavored candies, such as a cosmopolitans, margaritas and daiquiris, Worobel said, noting the company already promotes the lollipops as a flavor enhancer for some alcoholic drinks on social media.
Jelly Belly also recently launched Cocktail Classics, Champagne and Draft Beer flavored jelly beans.