Chicago Is The Candy Capital of the World

Imagine the greatest place in the world. Now imagine it with Candy. Are you seeing what I’m seeing? That’s right, it’s Chicago! For the 18th year in a row, my hometown was the candy capital of the world as the Sweets and Snacks Expo came to the windy city.

The candy industry is a lot like any other business. It’s got its rituals and confabs and traditions, but none are as cool (or delicious) as this one.

The Sweets & Snacks Expo made me feel like a giddy little kid again. I wanted to run around  scooping up every sample in sight, Augustus Gloop-style. I rediscovered old childhood favorites, like Meiji’s Hello Panda, and TONS of delicious, new go-tos like Belgian Boys, who’ve somehow turned waffles into candy!

There was a ton to do and see, but here are some of my favorite highlights.

Storck’s Candy Shop


Nothing took me back to my childhood quite like Storck’s full scale, authentic candy shop. Storck is home to classic candy brands like Werthers, Mamba, Riesen and internationally beloved brands like merci and Toffifay. Walking through it felt like a trip to a German candy store, which makes sense because that’s where the company has its roots. A throwback to candy shops of yore, the nostalgic booth stood out amongst a sea of neon colors and silly graphics.


Beer Salt


A San Antonio-based company was promoting a product called Beer Salt, a citrus salt that you can add to the rim of beer bottles. Great for those days when your beer needs a little kick.


Healthier Bars


Mars Chocolate North America announced it is taking its Goodnessknows snack-bar line national after years of testing it in a handful of markets. And Hershey has begun selling a snack bar under its premium Brookside brand. The new products from the two fierce candy competitors combine fruit, nuts and chocolate into a bar form and appear squarely aimed at successful bar start-up brand Kind.




Yes. Maria Sharapova has a candy brand and it’s delicious. When she was a child, the Russian-born tennis star always received a candy bar or a lollipop after a good game. Now her candy brand features brightly colored gummies with playfully named flavors such as Smitten Sour, Quirky, and Sporty. These fun and tasty treats not only taste delicious, but a portion of sales are donated to charity.

So. Much. Jerky.

This year saw a ranch’s worth of jerky. Beef, venison, turkey, even Salmon were offered up by new jerky manufacturers like Perky Jerky, Ruby Bay Salmon Jerky, Western Smokehouse and Chef’s Cut: Real Jerky. I did not partake but my esteemed colleague Chris Hemzacek fervently believes that you can never have too much jerky!