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gummy candies

Tough times call for candy

As people crave sweet treats, manufacturers are innovating with nostalgia and novelty.
Nora Caley

There’s a lot of name-dropping going on in the candy aisle. Consumers looking for sugary snacks are finding some very familiar brands, and not just among the confectionary giants. Candy companies are offering licensed products that tie in with movies and with legacy food brands, all in effort to tap into consumers’ desire for nostalgia, comfort and fun. 

The efforts are paying off. According to a Mintel report, Non-Chocolate Confectionery, US 2022, total U.S. sales of candy surpassed $10 billion in 2021, and the firm forecasts sales to reach $14 billion by 2027. 

“Consumers are continuing to seek out treats that satisfy their desire for nostalgic treats from their youth, when life was more simple and fun,” said Clark Taylor, senior vice president of sales and marketing at CandyRific. “Many of them are now looking for comfort, known treats and licenses that satisfy their need for a small indulgence in today’s hectic world.” 

[Read more: Sweet, sweet success: Two years of the pandemic resulted in record candy sales as consumers sought comfort, surprise and delight]

This year, CandyRific launched toys and treats with the Kool-Aid brand, Jurassic World-themed candy fans and Marvel’s Avengers Thor character candy fans. In 2023, the company will release items tied to “The Mandalorian” series and the character Grogu; upcoming movies featuring SpongeBob, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, “PAW Patrol” and “Trolls 3”; and a new resurgence of the classic “Star Wars.” 

Appealing to generations

Some iconic brands appeal to all ages. “We’ve had incredible success with the Kool-Aid brand in confectionery,” said Lou DiMarco, executive vice president of Hilco, maker of popping candy and other treats. “We see young kids saying this (Kool-Aid Popping Candy) is super cool, and we have captured the adults who drank it a ton as a kid and love it as an adult.” 

Other flavor profiles are also gaining sales momentum. Hilco partners with Impact Confections to make Warheads Sour Popping candy. “Sour is a major trend that seems to never go away,” DiMarco said. Those candies are popular among tweens and adults. Another brand that appeals to older kids and adults is Girl Scouts, so Hilco launched Thin Mints Candy Canes. “People love the cookie, and it has a very good mint profile.” 

“Consumers are continuing to seek out treats that satisfy their desire for nostalgic treats from their youth, when life was more simple and fun.”
— Clark Taylor, senior vice president of sales and marketing, CandyRific

Consumers are  looking for global flavors, too. “We’re seeing a strong interest for flavors derived from international cuisines,” said Robert Swaigen, vice president of global marketing at Jelly Belly. “Items like boba tea have been generating quite a bit of content on social media lately, especially among Gen Z and millennials.” 

Tropical fruit flavors are also trending now, Swaigen said, such as in Jelly Belly’s Tropical Mix, which includes crushed pineapple, mango and kiwi. Smaller and mid-size packs are also trending, and Jelly Belly has 60 different varieties in its Grab & Go line. Chewy candies are also among the most popular picks. 

Attention to textures  

Gummies are very big right now, said Molly Jacobson, director of business development at Frankford Candy. “The pandemic has spurred growth of the gummies segment,” she said. “Gummies are a popular candy variety among kids and parents, who use these sweet treats as a reward for their kids.” Among the company’s offerings are its Kraft Heinz gummy line, with Lunchables, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs in the form of fruit-flavored gummies. Coming soon are Dunkin’ treats and (SpongeBob) Gummy Krabby Patties.

Total U.S. sales of candy surpassed $10 billion in 2021. (Source: Mintel)

The Hot Chocolate Bomb is also popular, partly because it’s fun to watch the chocolate melt when pouring warm milk over it. “Consumers are increasingly interested in experiences and want something playful and engaging that they can share on social media or with their friends,” Jacobson said. “Innovation is more than just the product these days. Innovation also means bringing new ideas to consumers that go beyond delicious taste, but also engages them with all of their senses.” 

[Read more: CVS Pharmacy, FARE partner for a safe 2022 Halloween]

One new idea for consumers is that gum and mints do more than freshen breath. Sales of those items were impacted during the pandemic, and Mars Wrigley kept an eye on usage occasion shifts. “Consumers began to enjoy gum for its other functional benefits, beyond freshening, such as aiding in maintaining focus and attention while working/studying from home, combating quarantine boredom and more,” said Justin Hollyn-Taub, senior marketing director of US gum and mints at Mars Wrigley. 

Gum has rebounded, he said, and the company developed new products to satisfy consumer demand for new flavors. Mars Wrigley launched EXTRA Refreshers Fruit Mix with three flavors in one bottle. For consumers stocking up on gum, ORBIT Mega Pack is portable and provides a more sustainable option by including a step-by-step guide on how to recycle via How2Recycle graphics on the pack.

Product Picks


Jurassic World-Themed Candy Fan
Marvel’s Avengers Character Fan – Thor
SRP: $5.99  

CandyRific has expanded its line of candy fans. The novelty Jurassic World-themed light up fan has a tyrannosaurus rex reaching up to a helicopter, based on the blockbuster “Jurassic World” franchise. The Thor character fan provides a puff of cool air with a push of a button, and it also lights up. The fans come with 0.53 oz. of assorted fruit-flavored dextrose candies with natural flavors and colors.

Kool-Aid Popping Candy
Warheads Popping Candy 
SRP: 99 cents, single pack

Building on the success of its 3-Pack Popping Candy, Hilco offers Kool-Aid brand and Warheads Single Pack Popping Candy. Single packs of 0.33 oz. of Kool-Aid brand popping candy come in tropical punch, grape and cherry flavors. Warheads Sour flavors come in green apple, blue raspberry and watermelon.  

Frankford Candy
Kraft Heinz Gummies
SRP: varies, $4 to $5 

Gummy Lunchables Cracker Stackers feature eight gummy crackers and two “slices” each of gummy pepperoni, gummy ham, gummy Swiss cheese and gummy cheddar cheese — enough to build four cracker stacker sandwiches. Gummy Lunchables Pepperoni Pizza Kit comes in a 6.3-oz. package and includes three gummy pizza crusts, 12 gummy mozzarella cheese shreds, 15 gummy pepperoni slices and one liquid pizza sauce packet — enough to build three pizzas. Oscar Mayer Gummy Hot Dogs come in a five-count 4.4-oz. blister pack of gummy hot dogs, and Oscar Mayer Gummy Bacon includes five gummy bacon strips in a 6-oz. package. 

Halo Infinite Packs 
SRP: varies, $2.29 to $3.79 for 4.25 oz. to 7.2 oz.

For Xbox’s 20th anniversary, sour gummy brand Trolli collaborated with “Halo Infinite” and debuted four limited-edition Halo Infinite packs. Original Sour Brite Crawlers are multi-flavored gummy worms covered in sugar to strike a balance of sweet and sour. Very Berry Sour Brite Crawlers are a twist on Trolli’s original sour gummy worm with fruity flavor combinations. Sour Gummi Creations offer enough gummy heads, rings and bases to create 216 different aliens. Sour Bursting Crawlers are Trolli’s classic Sour Brite Crawlers with a burst of sour, fruity flavor inside.

RangeMe Top Performers


Evergreen USA
Just The Fun Part Waffle Cones Filled With Dark Chocolate
SRP: $6.99

Just The Fun Part took the best part of a sundae cone (the bottom) and turned it into the perfect nostalgic treat. A bag full of bite-sized pieces makes it nearly impossible to just have one. By combining crispy mini waffle cones and ethically sourced Belgian dark chocolate, this snack is made to satisfy any sweet tooth. 

SkinnyDipped Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
SRP: $5.99

SkinnyDipped flips the equation with loads of meltingly scrumptious peanut butter nestled in a thin, dark chocolate shell. The Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are made with simple ingredients; contain no stevia, sugar, alcohols or artificial sweeteners; and are keto friendly, with only 2 g of sugar and 3.5 g net carbs per cup. Like all SkinnyDipped products, they are non-GMO, gluten free and kosher. 

Pocket Latte
Hazelnut Coffee Chocolate
SRP: $2.29

Pocket Latte’s Hazelnut Coffee Chocolate is made with real 100% arabica coffee and premium craft chocolate for a smooth coffee buzz. Each bar contains 110 mg to 130 mg of natural caffeine and is vegan, gluten free, kosher and non-GMO. The suggested retail price of $2.29 is less than most cups of coffee or other energy products.

Methodology: The products selected are RangeMe Verified brands that received the highest positive buyer interaction scores within the Candy category — a score that represents a combination of buyer views, messages, saves, sample requests and purchases of the product. The RangeMe verification process confirms that brands and products meet certain standards and requirements that RangeMe’s retail partners look for before doing business with a brand.

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