CHICAGO — Forthcoming product launches from Just Born Quality Confections are sweet, spicy and “sour-licious.” The Bethlehem, Pa.-based maker of Peeps, Hot Tamales and Mike and Ike candies unveiled a suite of flavorful innovation at the Sweets & Snacks Expo, held May 24-26 in Chicago.
Slated to hit shelves next year are Mike and Ike Sour-licious chewy sour fruit flavored candies in three varieties: green apple, fruit punch and intense fruit. The product line represents a rebranding and extension of Mike and Ike Zours, said Matthew Pye, vice-president of trade relations and corporate affairs at Just Born.
|Matthew Pye, vice-president of trade relations and corporate affairs at Just Born|
“Zours was a great brand, more developed on the West coast … so rather than try to build up Zours more, we did test market a line of these products, and they did very well when they were all packaged together under the Sour-licious format,” Mr. Pye said in an interview with Food Business News at the show.
From the Hot Tamales brand comes Hot Tamales Licorice Bites, featuring the cinnamon candy’s signature flavor in a softer, chewier format.
“Licorice is a great segment that’s been growing,” Mr. Pye said. “We originally considered Mike and Ike licorice, but there is so much fruit flavored licorice out there. There really wasn’t any cinnamon licorice, and we are the No. 1 cinnamon confection — bigger than Big Red gum, bigger than Red Hots, bigger than any cinnamon confection out there. So we can play in a lot of product forms because from a chewy cinnamon standpoint, licorice made sense.”
The company opted to produce a bite-size format based on consumer preference.
“Smaller pieces are what consumers are going for, more bite-size pieces versus one big rope,” Mr. Pye said. “And we didn’t want to compete with the Twizzlers and the Red Vines of the world.”
The company also featured Peeps Delights, a line of flavored marshmallow chicks dipped in chocolate or fudge with new flavor varieties and a new premium positioning.
“We have rebranded all of our dipped products under the Peeps Delights name to premiumize it a little,” Mr. Pye said. “We also have learned from consumers the packaging was more whimsical. It’s a little more upscale now because this product tends to be a little more adult versus putting it in Easter baskets.”
The spring range includes such variants as blueberry flavored marshmallow dipped in dark chocolate, chocolate mousse marshmallow dipped in milk chocolate, coconut marshmallow dipped in dark chocolate, lemon marshmallow dipped in lemon fudge, and orange marshmallow in orange fudge.
“Peeps are very polarizing,” Mr. Pye said. “Everybody knows them, everybody loves them, but not everybody eats them. So as we’ve been able to get into flavors, dipping them in chocolate … we’ve actually brought more people into the franchise who are now more willing to try it. So that’s why we’re putting a big bet on our whole Delights line because they’ve done well seasonally and we’re going to continue to expand that. The chick is our Mickey Mouse; it’s our icon. So for every season now, we’re going to continue to grow it.”
A particular Peeps concept that failed to hatch was Peeps Minis, which debuted two years ago and was discontinued shortly thereafter. Packaged in resealable standup bags and featuring such flavors as chocolate, strawberry and sour watermelon, Peeps Minis were developed to offer the brand’s loyal consumers a year-round option.
“It tested very well, but unfortunately, it just didn’t sell well enough to stay in the line,” My. Pye said. “Of course, there’s a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking and hindsight; a lot of us in the industry do a lot of research that doesn’t always translate into success for the long term. But I think the biggest thing that likely hurt us was how it was packaged in a standup bag, and we were coming at the time that everybody and their mother was coming out with standup bags, so where we were looking for two to three items, we were lucky if we got one … It was a very competitive set.”
He added: “I think you’ll see some minis in a seasonal format at some point.”
In addition to showcasing innovation, Just Born also announced a new partnership with Cemoi Inc., New York, a subsidiary of CEMOI Group of Perpignan, France, to expand the French chocolate truffles to the United States. Just Born, a family-owned business since 1923, said the companies share similar values, as well as roots in French chocolate making. The companies plan to launch three varieties of cocoa-dusted, fruit flavored truffles next spring.“We’re working with them to say what would be different than what is already here in the U.S. market,” Mr. Pye said. “Because for us to take it into the market, the first thing they’re going to ask is how is this different than everything that’s out there?”