ATLANTA — The Hershey Co. calls it “snackfection.” The maker of Oreo cookies calls it “cross-category innovation.” Hybrids are a hot trend across the food and beverage industry, and new snacks on display at the 2016 NACS Show underscore the mashup mania.

Drawing more than 20,000 industry professionals, the NACS Show, hosted by the National Association of Convenience Stores and held Oct. 18-21 in Atlanta, features the latest products from more than 1,100 exhibiting companies.

The U.S. convenience store industry posted record in-store sales of $225.8 billion last year. Nearly 21% of total in-store sales were from food service, which includes prepared and commissary food and hot, cold and dispensed beverages. Another 15% of sales were from packaged beverages, and almost 11% were from center-of-the-store categories, including candy, and sweet, salty and alternative snacks.

Several new products unveiled at the show blur the lines between snack and confection, such as the new Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch range. Available in caramel, vanilla creme and mint varieties, the candy bars contain crunchy cookie bits layered with a sweet filling and are covered in milk or dark chocolate. The products are an example of Hershey’s “snackfection” innovation, combining components of traditional confectionery and snacks to expand consumption occasions.

Mary-Ann Somers, Hershey
Mary-Ann Somers, general manager and vice-president, U.S., The Hershey Co.

“We recognize eating habits are evolving and that consumers are moving away from traditional meals and into multiple snacking occasions that include various tastes and textures throughout the day,” said Mary-Ann Somers, general manager and vice-president, U.S., The Hershey Co. “Hershey wanted to bring consumers an indulgent snack that is a different experience from the classic Hershey’s chocolate bar, but still just as delicious. We’ve spent the last 18 months perfecting this innovation to ensure that it not only tastes great, but meets the needs and desires of today’s modern consumer.”

A similar product comes from Mondelez International. Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar features bits of Oreo cookies mixed with Oreo creme and coated in the company’s Milka brand European milk chocolate.

Tim Cofer, Mondelez
Tim Cofer, chief growth officer of Mondelez International

“This unique cross-category innovation really delivers on what consumers want: favorite brands, a great sensory experience and more variety,” said Tim Cofer, chief growth officer of Mondelez International, during a company presentation on Sept. 7.

Another category crossover highlighted at the NACS Show is Oberto Trail Mix, combining beef or chicken jerky with nuts, seeds, dried fruit and chocolate, from Oberto Brands. Also at the show, Snyder’s-Lance highlighted Emerald Double Crunch, featuring seasoned, cracker-coated peanuts, and Nestle USA provided a first glimpse of forthcoming innovation from its partnership with Hostess Brands — Hostess Ding Dong ice cream sandwiches and Twinkies ice cream are coming to the freezer aisle.

Read on for more product trends at the NACS Show.