Wine-flavored chocolates and other gourmet snacks set new trend

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Lentil chips, unusual flavor combos like chili and mint, and sweets fortified with vitamins are slated to offer consumers greater snack options when the three o'clock munchies hit.

That's the conclusion of organizers at the 15th annual Sweets & Snacks Expo this year, which wrapped up Thursday in Chicago and is considered a harbinger of snack food trends to come.

Consumers can expect to see more snack foods and sweets that layer multiple, complex, and sometimes unexpected flavors, organizers said. Combinations like chili and mint-flavored sweets, dual-filling truffles, and gourmet, artisanal flavors like cracked pepper and Asiago cheese-flavored chips.

Simply 7 Snacks, for example, showcased a range of Lentil chips and Hummus chips - of which the latter is made from chickpea flour - in flavors like Bruschetta, Spicy Chili Pepper and Creamy Dill. The products are availale on Amazon in the US.

The Wine Collection, a set of wine-flavored chocolates by a New York mom and daughter duo, 2 Chicks with Chocolate , was also given the Best New Concept and Product Award. The Spicy Merlot Bon Bon is filled with chocolate ganache, infused with merlot, cinnamon and orange, and is finished off with a touch of black peppercorn "on the finish."

The Cabernet Caramel, meanwhile, is enveloped in a 58-percent dark chocolate shell. A wine and caramel filling also has a hint of salt. The chocolates are sold online.

The wine-flavored chocolates were one in five products recognized as best new products. The others included:

Albanese Confectionery's Awesome Blossoms: Flower-shaped gummies

Jelly Belly Chocolate Dips: Chocolate-coated jelly beans

Got Milk? Magic Milk Straws: Straws filled with flavor beads like cookies and cream, strawberry, or vanilla that instantly transform a regular glass of milk. The product was also a winner at the National Restaurant Association Show in May.

Trolli Big Bold Bears: Troll or monster-shaped gummies

A chocolate candy called Gimme - crisp rice puffs dipped in dark chocolate, infused with vitamin D3 and sealed in a candy shell - also signals a new trend in vitamins masked as sweets.

Despite a lagging economy, snacks and sweets experienced growth in 2010, as they're considered affordable indulgences.

The Sweets & Snacks Expo drew 14,000 attendees  from 69 countries around the world this year.