So I went to the candy expo last week which isn’t open to the public but as a member of the press I was able to attend so I could tell you about all the cool new candy and gum and mints that are coming out and how the old standbys are holding up for example they had Sixlets and I didn’t even know they still made those and I used to love them as a child and did you know that there were 8 acres of candy and people from all over the world including Turkey which seems to have a lot of candy makers and Brazil which has spicy candy and there’s a new spray candy that you just spray on your tongue and speaking of tongues there’s a new tongue tattoo which is candy you put on your tongue and it leaves a stop sign or another tongue (isn’t that clever) and other fun designs and it seems like every other booth had ENERGY candy or gum and there’s even a weight loss gum and candy that is like drinking a cup of coffee except I drink half a pot of coffee every morning so that wouldn’t do anything for me and there were chocolate covered gummy bears and candy that looked like decorative rocks…
I believe I have finally recovered from my sugar buzz and subsequent crash enough to let you into the world of Hershey’s and Brach’s and Ghiradelli, oh my.
The cover of the All Candy Expo directory says WOW, with the “O” as a large piece of red candy. And it is a WOW experience.
To get to the show we had to walk through GlobalCOMM, which as an Internet geek was intriguing to me, but we were on a mission. As soon as we entered the Lakeside center at McCormick Place, a feeling of excitement took over and we felt like, well, like kids in a candy store.
As I mentioned above, there are eight acres of candy. Eight. Growing up in rural Indiana we had a half acre of land and I thought that was spacious! If someone had told me then I’d visit a place that had sixteen times the size of my yard filled with candy I think I would have written that person off as a liar and a tease, and just a downright cruel human being.
I’m joking, but they’re serious about their candy. The security is so tight you’d think the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa would be revealed instead of just the newest confectionery concoctions. When you enter the hall they scan your name tag. Then you head over to “Bag Distribution” (I’m not kidding) where they give you a yellow gift bag and punch a hole out of your name tag to make sure you don’t get two bags.
This was an improvement over last year, when you weren’t allowed to carry anything except your purse or, I suppose, man-bag. I had come prepared with an extra large purse, but didn’t need it because of the Bag Distribution program. Last year I didn’t understand why you weren’t allowed to take samples with you. With eight acres of candy there’s no possible way you can try every type of candy. Even if you sell chocolates and you limit yourself to dark chocolates with nuts, you’ll be sick and tired of dark chocolate with nuts in an hour. And, as with most trade shows, it’s good to have take-aways to jog your memory.
They do, however, have a Candy Time room. This is where you go crazy. Within limits. Those limits are 3 1/4″ x 7″ x 9″ – the dimensions of the bag they give you. You’re allowed to fill it, but only to the top and the sides must not bulge out. If you’ve overfilled it or it’s too stuffed someone at the exit will pull your goodies out and dump them into a barrel with a scornful look.
The Candy Time room is an enlightening experience. Grown men and women are told to zip their bags, leave their stash from the showroom floor outside the room, and have at it. And they do. Picture a room the size of a suburban ranch house filled with bins of candy. Every single person in there, myself included, went from bin to bin in a zealous attempt to get just the right mix of sugar. It was like Halloween without the costumes, and we got to stick our hands in the plastic pumpkins and pull out whatever we wanted.
After four hours and two bags containing a year’s supply of sugar, we dragged ourselves to the parking garage and headed home. But not without first stopping for dirty martinis and salty chips.