Bazooka Candy Brands reinventing the classics

by Monica Watrous
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Juicy Drop Gum, Bazooka
Juicy Drop Gum features sweet bubble gum packaged with a small tube of sour gel used to boost and extend the flavor of the gum.

CHICAGO — Bazooka Candy Brands, the company behind Ring Pop, Juicy Drop, Push Pops and Bazooka Bubble Gum, develops products that encourage consumer interaction.

“What we think makes our products special is the concept that we call ‘edible entertainment,’” said Anthony Trani, vice-president of marketing for global confections at New York-based parent company The Topps Co., Inc. “Ring Pop really is just a hunk of plastic sitting on a table until the consumer slips it on their finger. So that’s the spirit with which we try to innovate across the board.”

At the Sweets & Snacks Expo, held May 24-26 in Chicago, Bazooka introduced a spate of playful new products across its stable of brands. Slated to launch early next year, Juicy Drop Gum features sweet bubble gum packaged with a small tube of sour gel used to boost and extend the flavor of the gum.

Anthony Trani, Topps Co., Bazooka Candy
Anthony Trani, vice-president of marketing for global confections at The Topps Co.

“The most important thing we hear from consumers is how long gum flavor lasts,” Mr. Trani said during an interview with Food Business News. “With Juicy Drop gum, you have the ability to control the flavor for as long as you want. Every piece is as sweet or sour as you want, and while you’re chewing it, if you want to boost it, you can just squeeze the liquid into your mouth, or you can start a new piece.”

Other products in the Juicy Drop portfolio include Juicy Drop Pop, Juicy Drop Gummies and Juicy Drop Taffy. The brand ranks within the five top-selling non-chocolate items at checkout, with a five-year annual growth rate of 22%, Mr. Trani said.

“The great thing about Juicy Drop is it lets you customize every bite, every piece, whether it’s pop, whether it’s taffy, whether it’s gummies and now whether it’s gum,” he said.

Another forthcoming launch from Bazooka Candy Brands is Ring Pop Gummies Chains, a modern-day twist on the classic candy, which first debuted in 1977. Each bag contains a gummy bracelet and an assortment of gummy charms with various flavors, colors and designs.

Ring Pop Gummi chains, rings, Bazooka
New Ring Pop Gummies Chains contain a gummy bracelet and an assortment of gummy charms with various flavors, colors and designs.

“Every pack comes with a range of charms that have different emojis, whether it’s a heart, something that says ‘BFF,’ a smiley face, ‘LOL,’ a music note,” Mr. Trani said. “So what you can do is take the charms, put them on your gummy bracelet, and it takes that wearable tradition of Ring Pop, we call ‘edible bling’ to a new level. It’s just fun, playful and delicious.”

Gummy candies are the third largest non-chocolate candy segment, growing 7.5% last year with $750 million in sales, according to Nielsen data.

“Gummies are on fire,” Mr. Trani said. “I’ve been at Topps for six and a half years, and it’s been growing in the high single digits every year. And so we thought it would make sense to bring Ring Pop to life in a unique way for gummies.”

New from the Bazooka brand is a sugar-free gum, which received the Most Innovative New Product award in the gum category at the Sweets & Snacks Expo. The products are packaged in bottle and tube formats, a segment that grew more than 16% over the prior year, Mr. Trani said.

Bazooka sugar-free gum, Frozen, Avengers
New from the Bazooka brand is a sugar-free gum packaged in bottle and tube formats.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for a very long time, and when you’re dealing with a brand that’s as classic and authentic as Bazooka and has that iconic flavor, you really want to make sure you get it right,” Mr. Trani said. “So we’ve been working on this for a very long time, and we finally feel like we got to a product that truly delivers on that Bazooka flavor we all know and grew up with, and it helps bring it into modern day. Bazooka is a brand that has been around since 1947, so we’ve all grown up with it, and now we have a fantastic sugar-free product that delivers against the true promise of Bazooka.”

The company also showcased a new brand called Crunchkins, which are crunchy bites with a creamy coating in three dessert flavors: birthday cake, fudge brownie and glazed donut. The product debuted this past January in Wal-Mart stores and are rolling out to more retailers later this year.

“Consumers inherently want variety, and particularly when you look at checkout in the non-chocolate space, you see a lot of different product forms; you see gummies, taffies, lollipops, but there aren’t a lot of poppable items,” Mr. Trani said. “The idea of having this product was actually created by a guy in our R.&D. lab, and it was just a passion project for him, but once we started sharing it with consumers, they just loved the idea they could mix these different flavors and just pop them in their mouth. We’ve tested a lot of different dessert flavors, and what we found was these were the absolute, gotta-have favorites. The great thing about Crunchkins is because the format is so flexible, as we look to extend it, we can go with more sweet, more savory. There are a whole lot of flavors that we have the guys in the lab working on.”

Crunchkins, Bazooka
Crunchkins are crunchy bites with a creamy coating in three dessert flavors: birthday cake, fudge brownie and glazed donut.

The company plans to support the national launch of Crunchkins with television ads and on-line initiatives.

Bazooka Candy Brands leverages consumer insights and trends to modernize its longstanding brands and develop new brands.

“What it really comes down to is delivering true innovation,” Mr. Trani said. “That’s really what’s going to grow this industry. When you look at the products we have lined up here, we’re really delivering true innovation. It’s gummies, but with a twist. It’s gum, but a little different than what we have seen before.”
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