Scoffs Jeff Brown, the company's director of marketing: "Try bringing four strawberries to school in a lunch box. We serve a purpose."

If daunting obstacles imperil a fresh strawberry's lunch-box voyage from home to school, Brown isn't elaborating on what they might be.

Likewise unanswered is the question of how a Welch's Fruit Snack — or any other product that includes fruit, or whole grains, or any substance that could be considered "healthy" — might be quantified and factored in to a dietary formula that's 90 percent wholesome and 10 percent indulgence.

Professor Sauernoggin works the Toxic Waste Candy booth at the recent Sweets & Snacks Expo at McCormick Place in Chicago.
William Rice
Professor Sauernoggin works the Toxic Waste Candy booth at the recent Sweets & Snacks Expo at McCormick Place in Chicago.
Jill Robbins developed HomeFree cookies so that her son, who has multiple food allergies, would be able to enjoy snacks with his friends.
William Rice
Jill Robbins developed HomeFree cookies so that her son, who has multiple food allergies, would be able to enjoy snacks with his friends.

Several companies have come to the expo to hawk different variations of chips: hummus chips, whole-grain chips, rice chips, apple chips, yes, even potato chips. ("Has the bar gotten so low?" grumbles Appetite for Profit author Michele Simon. "What about a whole potato with a little butter and salt that you can control?")

Like so much else at the expo, Lundberg Family Farms' rice chips are gluten-free. (Everything this year is gluten-free, even products you wouldn't ordinarily associate with gluten, like, say, hot fudge sauce.) "A lot of brands speak to the gluten-free market," admits Todd Kluger, the man who mans the Lundberg booth. "It's a larger base." And, um, maybe the biggest health-food fad this side of the Atkins Diet? "A fad is not a trend," Kluger protests. "People who are pushed into the 'fad' category think they can lose weight. Then the companies pull away. They can't see the larger market. People who truly suffer will be there."

Ah, there it is: the public service! Feeding chips to the celiac afflicted. Does it even matter how they taste?

Which, patient food cognoscenti, brings us to...seaweed.

"This is the most healthy snack in the whole expo!" declares Russell Moon, spokesman for SeaSnax roasted seaweed. "We're the Star Trek of seaweed snacks: We're taking seaweed where it's never been before!

"It's strangely addictive," he adds. (This is, probably not coincidentally, the company's catchphrase.)

Moon is only slightly daunted to learn that his employer isn't quite flying solo on seaweed's farthest frontier, or, for that matter, at the Sweets & Snacks Expo. Ocean Snacks, which also sells roasted seaweed, has a booth a mere acre or so to the northeast.

Moon's counterpart at Ocean Snacks, Bruce Horn, says schoolchildren in Yorba Linda, California, are positively wild about the seaweed. They even eat it voluntarily! (Not that they've had much choice since it replaced potato chips in the district's vending machines.) He notes regretfully and not without a tinge of pity that he doesn't think St. Louisans will be seeing Ocean Snacks anytime soon, unless they're willing to order it online. "You're going to be one of the last regions to get it," he predicts, adding, "if the culture is willing to adapt to a healthy alternative."

Andrew Smith, the food historian, says the culture is in precisely such a mood. "There are periods when reform comes in, and there's a shift in the diet," Smith notes. "Then the reform movement dies and we go back to excess. Look at Prohibition: They prohibited the sale of alcohol, and twenty years later it was back."

Rick Shea, founder of Shea Marketing, a consulting firm in Minneapolis, has observed this shift, too. But he thinks it's due to the U.S. economy's recent trip down the toilet. "During the recession premium ingredients were held back," Shea explains. "Now there's more attention being paid to health and nutrition. Consumers have a desire to eat better."

And now that they can once again afford to shop at Whole Foods, they're ready to experiment with rice chips.

And seaweed.


Performing Miracles

"'Healthy candy' is an oxymoron," declares Marion Nestle, a professor at New York University who just might be the nation's pre-eminent nutrition expert. "People don't want to like eating candy. I do it, too. I look at something and say, 'Oh! I can have it!' It takes away the guilt." (Nestle, whose lengthy vita includes stints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, advisory roles with the Food and Drug Administration and the American Cancer Society and several award-winning books, confesses that her own personal weakness is peanut brittle.)

But what if candy has actual medicinal value?

"Some customers have had Chimes Ginger Chews in the hospital," proclaims company spokesman Andrew Ma. "It helps them after cancer treatments."

Wait, Chimes Ginger Chews help cure cancer?

No, no. "After treatment your stomach feels upset," Ma elaborates. "It's not medical, but it soothes the stomach." The ginger also helps ease morning sickness during pregnancy, he adds.

Then there are Slumberland Snacks' Sleep Squares, which taste like especially grainy flavored Tootsie Rolls (the kind that fall to the bottom of the trick-or-treat bag and stay there) and are crammed with vitamins purported to help you sleep.

"Relaxation products are a bigger business because of the surge in energy products — coffee, energy drinks," says Nancy Murray, who's working the booth. "People are so amped up. Sleep is a big issue. People don't want to take pharmaceuticals. Maybe once in a while, but not all the time."

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9 comments
Basti Auser
Basti Auser

YES , WE CAN...YES , WE CAN...WE WILL WIN IN WAR ON TERROR (30 whities or what are terrorists will never come back alive...thank you lord....aaamen).

What do you mean tragedy! It was just a birthday present for planet apes president !!! That's all ! Feels great to flip hamburgers and hip hop atop of good news...makes you feel vibrant and energized !!!

ARIZONA = UTOYA = GOVERNMENT‘S "AFTERLIFE" CASH & $$ FLASH MOB (there was no shooting in Utoya or Arizona, but tear gas and theater instead on faces of multiculturalism maniacs..your guilt or blame and shame weapon against us and our families in our own countries atop of forceful unemployment during so called "ECONOMIC CRISES" during which third world foreigners are allowed to rape, kill, and still is nothing else but fast way to early retirements for government related criminals/ terrorists...$$$ extra bonuses, and newly issued state identities while calling you a terrorists) !!! http://stateofterror.blogspot.... or http://stateofterror.wordpress...

OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION http://avsecbostjan.blogspot.c... or http://avsecbostjan.wordpress.... Whitie is fighting war on terrorism just to come home and be pronounced as terrorist...turned in Timothy, jobless, homeless ...YESSS, WE CAN...YESSS, WE CAN...GABBY OPENED HER EYES (Obaminator’s psychotic speech in Tucson = failed “Apocalypse Now“)

WAKE-UP !!! WAKE UP PEOPLE BEFORE IT GETS ALL TO LATE ON PLANET APES !!! TEARS WON'T DO YOU ANY GOOD !!! AS BUSH STATED "THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE PAID FOR"(to die ) !!

EVEN IF IRAQ WOULD HAVE BEEN WAR FOR OIL ONLY, VETERANS WOULDN'T NEVER EVER HAVE TO BE HOMELESS PEOPLE THE WAY THEY ARE AND NOR WOULD OUR PEOPLE HAVE TO DIE ALLOVER THE PLACE THE WAY THEY DO TO VERY TODAY(never ending “war on terror” story). BECAUSE EVEN IF WAR WAS FOR THE SAKE OF MONEY, MONEY SHOULD BE USED FOR AMERICAN CITIZENS AND NOT WHAT THE CASE IS OR AGAINST WHITES(to destroy us allover the world) !!! You don't really proof for 911, just put your sht together in your heads...THIS IS PLENTY ENOUGH TO HAVE O(B)SAMA INDICTED FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE AMERICAN HUMANITY TOGETHER WITH HIS ZIONIST MASTERS) !!!

Don't worry O(s)bama, you have just saved USA what is lots of Dollars in your DEBT DEALS as those best of America or Navy Seals would also grew older and then you already know how it goes...DEAD & ILL = DEBT DEAL !!!

HOW MUCH FURTHER ARE WE WILLING TO GO IN ORDER TO PLEASE VERY SAME PEOPLE WHO DENY US EVEN THE RIGHT TO EXISTENCE(what is to you country without laws or lawless country in respect to your personal rights, but the one that in contrast to your denied basic human rights recognizes you extremely liable when payments are due) !!?

IS IT INDEPENDENCE THAT WE CELEBRATE OR DEPENDENCE (what are your credit card bills or alimony saying about it) !!? HOW IS YOUR DIABETES AND LOST MARRIAGES !!? FORECLOSURES AND JOB SEARCH !!? THAT IS THE QUESTION TO BE OR NOT TO BE !!! IS IT LAND OF THE FREE OR STATE OF TERROR AGAINST OWN POPULATION !!? IT IS TIME TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT COLOR ARE THE STRIPES ON OUR STAR SPANGLED BANNER !!! TIME TO DETERMINE WHOSE INDEPENDENCE/AMERICA, WE CELEBRATE TODAY(who wants to erase us and denies us the right to exist) !!! IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHOM WE ADDRESS WITH "PRESIDENT" (STOP HUMILIATING YOURSELF) !!!

VOTING POLL:

DO WE NEED MORE PROOFS TO INDICT OBAMA AND BUSH ADMINISTRATION FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY !!?

1)NO, THEY ARE CLEARLY GUILTY AS OIL WAR NEVER EVER WAS REAL ISSUE IN GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITES. REAL ISSUE ARE FACTS OR WHAT WE WITNESS TODAY WHEN VETERANS ARE HOMELESS, JOBLESS, KILLED, ETC.

2)NO, AS 911 ALONE AS WELL AS ACTIONS IMPOSED AGAINST WHITES IN USA (as well worldwide) ARE CLEARLY INDICATING ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY

3)YESS AS JUST YESTERDAY(for over 15 years to very yesterday), WE (news/media = vacuum world of lies) WERE TELLING YOU THAT UNEMPLOYMENT WAS AT 10% WHILE TODAY ONE IS AT 50% (HOW COME NO ONE QUESTION JOURNALISM LIKE THIS OR WHAT IS WORLD OF LIES AND DEMENTIA)!

4)I AGREE WITH FIRST TWO ANSWERS ABOVE. IT IS TIME TO PRESS CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST BOTH ADMINISTRATIONS DUE TO ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY FOR THE SAKE(SAFETY) OF US AND OUR CHILDREN(DO NOT TURN THEM IN WHITE REFUGEES ON PLANET APES OR WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE WHEN VISITING ABOVE PAGES) !!!

Jkenah
Jkenah

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AaronL
AaronL

I liked the fact that sources for this article included a professor named Nestle and an author named Almond.

Richard
Richard

Can I bring a hollowed out wheel chair?

will there be a gummy Venus De Milo?

Kel
Kel

I can't believe I just sat here and read a 7 page article on a candy convention in Chicago. But it was well-written and interesting. Which is more than I can say for most AP articles these days. Good story.

James Hodges
James Hodges

What ever happened to Chocolate Babbies?

David Klein
David Klein

One of the biggest hits at this trade show if not the biggest hit was a candy product called "farts." The headlines in a Chicago newspaper said "farts to be released in Chicago."

David Klein
David Klein

This is the best article I have read about the 2011 candy and snack convention. I too was in Chicago as an exhibitor. In fact I have written a whole chapter on the 2011 trade show for my upcoming book A Man and his Beans--the David Klein Story which will be a companion for our documentary Candyman:the David Klein Story.. Keep up the great writing style. Thank you.......

 
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