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NCA Names Innovative Product Award Winners at Sweets & Snacks Expo

Hostess Brands, Nestle and Hershey were among those honored

The National Confectioners Association (NCA) named its Most Innovative New Product Award winners at the 2018 Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago. 

The winners were selected from more than 300 new product award entries across nine candy and snack categories, and Hostess Brands took home the top prize of Best in Show for its Double Chocolate Cake Delights.

NCA President and CEO John Downs said innovation and new products are "key drivers of treating and snacking," and the awards "celebrate creative product development by category innovators. The competition is fierce, and the companies that have been recognized should be very proud of the contributions they make to advancing the fun and enjoyment of the category.”

The awards were sponsored by IRI. Larry Levin, the company's EVP of consumer and shopper marketing, said historically, innovation has driven about 7% of growth in confections.

“New products spark excitement for the consumer and generate more opportunities for treating," he said. 

IRI EVP and Practice Leader Sally Lyons Wyatt said winning the NCA's Most Innovative Product Award is the "pinnacle of accomplishments," and that "retailers are advocates for consumers, and they see the value these products will bring to their shoppers.”

In addition to Hostess' win, the judges presented the Small Business Innovator award to Vosges Haut-Chocolat for its Hazelnut Cocoa Toast. The award recognizes companies with net sales of less than $500,000, giving them the opportunity to gain recognition among well-established peers.

This year’s nominees and winners are:

Chocolate Winner: The Hershey Co., Hershey’s Gold Standard Bar


  • Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc., Junior Mint Minis
  • Seattle Chocolate, Strawberry Shortcake Truffle Bar
  • R.M. Palmer Co,, Football FANtasy
  • Tru Fru LLC, Coconut Melts Freeze-Dried & Immersed in Dark Chocolate

Non-Chocolate Winner: Nestle USA/Ferrara Candy Co., Big Chewy Nerds


  • Ferrara Candy Co., Sour Brite Sneaks
  • The Hershey Co., Jolly Rancher Misfits 
  • Impact Confections Inc., Hotheads Scorching Heat Twists
  • Hammond's Brands, Vanilla Caramel Marshmallow

Sweet Snacks Winner: Justin's, Organic White Chocolate Mini Peanut Butter Cups


  • That's How We Roll, Cinnamon Crumb Cake Thins
  • Edward Marc Brands Inc., Cookie Butter Snappers
  • Vidal Candies USA Inc, Spicy Mangos
  • The Promotion In Motion Cos. Inc., Superfruit Mix

Salty Snacks Winner: Sahale Snacks, Tangerine Vanilla Cashew-Macadamia Glazed Mix


  • From the Ground Up, Cauliflower Pretzel Sticks
  • Perfect Snax, Butterfinger
  • Made in Nature LLC, Veggie Pops/Salt and Pepper
  • Rudolph Foods Co. Inc., Oven Baked Pork Rinds/Blackberry Habanero

Savory Snacks Winner: Alli & Rose, Trail Mix Crackers


  • Cheesewich Factory, Bacon and Eggs 
  • Kellogg's, Cheez-It Duoz Caramel Popcorn & Cheddar
  • Land O'Frost, High Protein Chips
  • Clever Cookie, Baked Cheddar Protein Crisps

Novelty/Licensed Winner: Impact Confections Inc., Warheads Dippin’ Ring


  • Ferrero U.S.A. Inc., Frozen & Jurassic World Limited Editions
  • Bazooka Candy Brands, a division of The Topps Co., Baby Bottle Popping Powder
  • Pez Candy Inc., Jurassic World Click & Play Gift Tin
  • Jelly Belly Candy Co., Jelly Belly Krispy Kreme Doughnut Tin

Seasonal Winner: Ferrero USA Inc., Golden Heart for You & Me


  • Nestle USA, Big Chewy Nerds Reindeer Stocking Hanger 
  • Jelly Belly Candy Co., Jelly Belly Love Beans Valentine's Gift Box
  • Mars Wrigley Confectionery US LLC, Mars Wrigley Chocolate Variety mix party bowl
  • The Hershey Co., - Hershey’s Kisses Hot Cocoa

Gourmet Winner: That's How We Roll, Trios/Original


  • Chuao Chocolatier, Ravishing Rocky Road Joy-Filled Caramels
  • Kiwa, Native Andean Potato Chip Mix 
  • Hammond's Brands, Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Marshmallows 
  • Mars Wrigley Confectionery US LLC, Dove Chocolate cashews dipped in milk chocolate

Gum & Mints Winner: Ferrero USA Inc., Cool Tropical


  • Perfetti Van Melle USA Inc., Mentos CleanBreath
  • Mars Wrigley Confectionery US LLC, Juicy Fruit Gum Collisions Strawberry Watermelon
  • The Hershey Co., Ice Breakers Deep Freeze Peppermint 
  • Simply Gum, Cleanse


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