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Tasty Trends at the 2024 Sweets & Snacks Expo



Last week we headed back to Indianapolis, Indiana, “the Crossroads of America” for another record-breaking Sweets & Snacks Expo, hosted by the National Confectioners Association! This year featured over 1,000 exhibitors (a Sweets and Snacks record!) and 16,000 attendees over three incredible days at the beautiful Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indy. If you’ve never been, just imagine the ultimate trick-or-treating experience, but for adults!

Nearly every single booth is there to offer you a taste of their products, with many passing out full-sized candy bars to attendees. Your inner child would be freaking out at the prospect of so much candy, all to be sampled for free! It’s like stepping inside a real-life version of the board game: Candyland!

Now, if you’re not careful, you can easily eat too much candy in just the first couple of hours. I made that mistake my first year, so it’s always a great idea to pace yourself, occasionally giving your taste buds a break. Luckily, there’s plenty of salty and savory snacks to balance out all the sweet treats you’ll encounter!

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The Sweets & Snacks event is the largest confectionary industry gathering in North America, and this year was certainly no different. With over 250,000 square feet of exhibition space, the Indiana Convention Center was crawling with tasty delights from all over the world. Many brands introduced their latest and greatest innovative new products to much fanfare.

The event kicked off Monday night with the Most Innovative New Product Awards – a ceremony that highlights all the latest and greatest new product innovations offered by snack and candy brands attending the expo. Nearly 350 products were submitted to a panel of judges comprised of leaders from major retail sales and distribution networks.

The peanut butter dessert brand, Nerdy Nuts won the coveted “Best in Show” award for their Avalanche Peanut Butter Treat. Think of it like a pint of ice cream, but with peanut butter instead of the frozen ice cream! This was a major hit at the show, with its white chocolate candy pieces, marshmallow crème, caramel, and crispy rice pieces delighting attendees across the event.

Issei Mochi Gummies won the Small Business Innovator award for their dark chocolate covered strawberry mochi gummies. Other notable category winners included Morris National’s Skippy Milk Chocolate PB Minis in the chocolate category, Amos Peelerz Gummy Mango in the non-chocolate candy category, and Our Home’s YOU NEED THIS Hot Cheddar Fries in the savory snacks category.

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While these treats won the top awards in their respective categories, there were virtually hundreds of other products that also deserved their own special recognition. The trade show floor was filled with a spectacular array of the best and most innovative products that are sure to gain their own impressive market share within the confectionary and snack industries.

Exhibitors ranged from giants like America's leading chocolate brand, Hershey's, to smaller new businesses that brought an impressive display of products and flavors to the showroom floor. One of my favorite areas of the convention has always been Startup Street. All the businesses there are first-time exhibitors, and they’re always very excited about sharing their new products with the world. The positivity there is palpable and gives me a lot of hope for the future of the confectionery industry.


To highlight just a tiny fraction of what we saw, let’s take a look at some of the key trends we noticed at this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo!

Tajin and Spicy Innovations:

Tajin was seemingly everywhere! From chocolate covered Tajin gummy bears, to Tajin-flavored beef jerky and pork rinds, it seemed like everyone was using the popular Mexican seasoning in their products.

Tajin's unique blend of chili peppers, lime, and salt brought a spicy, savory twist to a variety of classic snacks and all of them were absolutely delicious! A couple notable products that really stood out to me were the 4505 Chicharrones Tajin Pork Rinds, and Snak Club’s Tajin Chili N’ Lime Watermelon Gummy Rings.

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The rampant use of Tajin reflects a broader movement towards spicy candy and snack innovations across the board, with many brands experimenting with heat to create exciting new flavor profiles. The spicy snack and confectionary products segment has grown exponentially in market size in recent years, with Gen Z and Millennials driving much of the growth.

Watermelon Flavor Explosion:

Watermelon emerged as the hot new flavor of the season, making its way into chocolate and candy in exciting new ways. While strawberry remains a perennial favorite, watermelon’s refreshing and sweet taste was a standout, offering a perfect opportunity for a light, summertime treat.

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Social Media-Friendly Packaging:

Eye-catching and Instagrammable packaging was everywhere this year. Candy brands are increasingly aware of the power of social media in driving product visibility and engagement. Vibrant, playful, and innovative packaging designs were crafted to attract not just the taste buds but also the camera lenses of attendees.


One notable use of this comes from our friends at Bubblegum Kids. The Toronto-based sugar-free gum company just recently formed in 2021 and they have already become the fastest-growing gum brand on Amazon! Their product features a slew of colorful cartoon characters, with each flavor featuring a different story line in comics, and animated shorts on their Instagram and TikTok channels. Although the products are marketed towards young adults (aka: 2000’s kids), their broad appeal through delicious chewing gum could easily span multiple generations of kids and adults alike!

Healthy Snacking Options:

Health-conscious snacking continues to be a significant trend in the confectionary and snack industries. Many exhibitors showcased products that cater to the growing demand for nutritious snacks. Low-carb, high-protein options were abundant, as were snacks featuring clean, natural ingredients. Whether it’s for keto, paleo, or general health-focused diets, there were plenty of tasty and guilt-free premium snack options to choose from!

Popcorn and Mochi Mania:

Ready-to-eat popcorn made a big splash this year with creative new flavors and gourmet varieties. From savory spices to sweet indulgences, popcorn proved to be a versatile canvas for innovation. One of the most notable products I got to sample at the event was Herr’s Mexican Street Corn-flavored Fire Roasted Sweet Corn. The flavor innovation in this product was nothing less than magical, which is what you’d expect from the fine folks at Herr’s.


Similarly, mochi, traditionally found in the freezer section, was showcased in several shelf-stable forms, highlighting its growing popularity as a delightful and chewy snack. This soft Japanese rice cake has been a staple of Japanese cuisine for over a thousand years, so it’s nice to finally see it take off in the United States.

Unusual Finds:

Among the many unique products at the expo, I think that Jack Links' Dr. Pepper-flavored beef jerky stood out as one of the weirdest. This unexpected flavor combination drew plenty of curious attendees and highlighted the ongoing trend of bold and unconventional flavor pairings. The fact that they had a bar serving bloody mary’s in the middle of their booth might have helped with that too!


While I got to try both the Dr. Pepper beef jerky, and beef sticks, it was amazing to me how much it really tasted like the iconic soda pop. A strong rush of cherry up front, which is finished with the iconic 23 flavors of Dr. Pepper made it more than just a snack – it was an experience. Although it was definitely the quirkiest thing I tried at the expo, I’m not sure how much American consumer behavior really warrants this product’s existence.

Final Thoughts

The 2024 Sweets & Snacks Expo was a whirlwind of flavors, innovations, and a ton of fun! One comment I kept hearing from people on the showroom floor was something along the lines of: “How lucky are we to be in the candy industry?!?!”

From reconnecting with our long-time industry friends, to discovering the latest trends, the event was a testament to the ever-evolving world of candy and snacks. As always, Redstone Foods is excited to bring the best new products we discovered to our customers, helping you stay ahead of the curve with the newest and most exciting trends in the candy, snack, and soda business.


Stay tuned to our blog for more updates and insights as we continue to explore and share the sweet and savory trends that are actively shaping the confectionary world!

At Redstone Foods, we're committed to bringing you the latest insights and innovative products from events like the Sweets & Snacks Expo to help support your business growth. We would love to collaborate with you!

Contact us today or sign up for an account online. Redstone Foods is America’s favorite candy distributor!