Spun from the company’s uniquely shaped lollipops, Ring Pop Gummy Gems and Baby Bottle Gummy Blast hit shelves in 2018. Both feature a dual flavor experience: the gems offer a sweet, chewy outside (in the shape of a gem, of course) and a sour, liquid gel on the inside; the gummy blast encourages consumers to dip a baby bottle-shaped gummy in a sour sugar.
Bazooka, a division of The Topps Company, decided to move into the gummy space because therein lies opportunity. (According to Mintel, non-chocolate confectionery grew 15% from 2012 to 2018, with chewy candy snagging more than a third of that growth.)
“We have these powerful brands, but we’re not in the areas that are growing,” Becky Silberfarb, director of marketing for the candy brands at Topps, told ConfectioneryNews – referencing the company’s longstanding foothold in hard candy.
Bazooka saw a ‘big opportunity.’
“It’s an interesting challenge, making that jump and helping consumers take that leap,” said Silberfarb. “We tried hard to keep the core elements about what was unique about that brand – the iconic shape or pushing mechanism – to root it in the same well-known characteristics…and take that plunge.”
Finders Keepers also debuted last year as a contender in the surprise-inside category, which despite in its infancy in the US is a 'big part of the candy business.'
"We think it will be just as big as other parts of the business," said Silberfarb. "As one of the first to lead that way, we know the category as a whole will grow."
Bazooka's toy-candy line partners with big names like My Little Pony and Peppa Pig. It will launch a Trolls version alongside the movie in April 2020.
"We know consumers love them," added Silberfarb, who said Bazooka refreshes the characters in each line at least once a year. "It's all about not just being surprised once but getting that collection. We know in partnering with powerful, beloved licenses, we are really creating a wonderful consumer experience."
Not only do gummies provide a ‘big opportunity’ for growth, she added, but they also allow the brands to ‘age up.’
“Gummies are popular across all age ranges, and that definitely was a motivation.”
For older consumers who might have grown up with Ring Pops on their fingers, for instance, “it’s a way for them to get that nostalgia in a newer form that might be more preferable,” continued Silberfarb. For younger consumers less familiar with Bazooka’s hard candies, a gummy provides a ‘super relevant’ way to experience these brands.
‘All about edible entertainment’
In addition to the line extensions of its iconic lollipops, Bazooka also launched an entirely new product called Match-Ems.
A bit like Legos, these gummies encourage consumers to mix and match flavors to create their own mashup. Each pack offers 28 different combinations: cherry and orange join to form a fruit punch, said Silberfarb, or pear and strawberry create red apple.
“We know that consumers are always looking for more flavors,” she added, alongside interaction: “There is fulfillment in putting them together.”
The company’s Juicy Drop candy also yields power to the consumer. The gummy candy is packaged with sour gel pen – “letting consumers decide how sweet or sour they want their candy to be.”
At the Sweets & Snacks Expo in May, Bazooka showed off yet another interactive treat based on an old favorite: the Push Pop. That lollipop – a self-contained portion control candy, equipped with a lid – now comes in gummy form, too. Push Pop Gummy Roll features a chewy tape dusted with sour sugar crystals, rolled into the old-school Bubble Tape packaging.
The company has a patent pending on the tear-and-go roll. “It’s really bringing those elements of Push Pop to life in a category that’s on fire,” said Silberfarb.
Throwback in full force
Bazooka made news this spring after re-launching its classic bubble gum in its original red, white and blue packaging – replete with Bazooka Joe comic strips beloved in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The reaction was so positive that Bazooka has decided to ditch the modernized version it launched only five years ago.
At the time, the gum category was steady but declining over the long-term, said Silberfarb, so Bazooka got a new look of black and neon green, and a new flavor in blue raspberry.
“How could stick out and not feel stale at the same time? It launched, but maybe didn’t move the need as much as we hoped,” she added. “There’s such a love and passion for nostalgic brands at this time – in the candy space, in TV shows.”
Once the throwback pack became a reality, she admitted, “it was always a possibility” that it would drown out the attempted revamp.
“We knew we were going after this nostalgic aspect. We were excited and delighted that consumers had such a strong response to the packaging that really pushed us to do that across the line.”