The Sweets & Snacks Expo is an annual Chicago conference that brings hundreds of companies, thousands of people and millions of calories under one roof for 3 days of intense snack action.
The conference is not open to the public, but we were able to attend as members of the media. It was our first time attending and we tried hard to contain our excitement as we walked through the front doors.
In an attempt to maintain a ‘professional atmosphere’, the conference gives you a single bag to collect snack samples as you walk the show floor. I’m not even joking when I tell you our bag was half full before we made it down the first aisle.
But the conference isn’t just trick or treating for adults. The snack industry is serious business. Over 800 companies and 18,000 industry professionals spent the week networking, making business deals, launching new products and participating in training sessions.
The great thing about the event is that there is room for everyone. We met with huge brands like Oreo and Nestle, but also met with small, start-up companies with fantastic new products they are excited to share with the world.
We ate plenty of straight up junk food, but were also impressed with the number of companies promoting healthier snacks and options for those with special dietary needs. We learned about the nutritional value of ancient grains, sampled many dairy and gluten-free snacks and even tried cauliflower pretzels!
The National Confections Association has also committed that by 2022 over 1/2 of their individually wrapped products will be 200 calories or less and that 90% of their best-selling treats will have calorie information on the front of the package.
We discovered so many delicious snacks that we had not heard of before like:
- Pretzel Pete: Seasoned pretzels including an amazing CHEESE PIZZA flavor!
- One Potato Two Potato: Delicious kettle chips with super cute potato mascots for all the flavors!
- Holly Baking: Cookie Brittle and delicious butter cookies that taste just like my grandma used to make!
- FlapJacked: Easy to prepare muffins, pancakes and cookies packed with protein in lots of yummy flavors!
- Ka-Pop! Snacks: Great tasting popped chips that are free of the top 12 food allergens!
- MadeGood Snacks: Delicious snacks like granola bars and crispy squares that have a serving of veggies! (you’d never know it!)
It was also really cool to get a sneak peek at some of the new products we’ll get seeing on shelves soon, to sample award-winning treats and browse creative ways to create snacks using snacks!
We can’t wait for next year to meet even more food bloggers and industry professionals. Give us a shout and we’ll start planning now! Save the date: MAY 21-23, 2019 in Chicago.
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