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McCrea’s Candies Named a 2016 Good Food Awards Finalist

McCrea’s Candies has been selected as a Good Food Awards Finalist. The Boston-based maker of small-batch handcrafted caramel secured its spot in the awards’ Confections Category.

Each year, the Good Food Awards celebrate tasty, real food that is responsibly made, and grants awards to outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients.

In further news, USA Today has recognized McCrea’s in its 10 Best “Best Gift for Foodies” competition. The contest features twenty exceptional products curated by a panel of food and travel experts. Readers of the national newspaper vote for their favorites. McCrea’s currently ranks fourth in the competition.

“We are thrilled that both The Good Food Awards and USA Today have recognized McCrea’s Candies as a company that not only produces exceptional caramel but one that strives to do good at the same time,” said Kate McCrea, the company’s co-founder. “It is important to us that we give back to our communities, pay a fair price for ingredients, and are environmentally responsible. All of which helps us on our mission to make world’s best caramel.”

The recognition from The Good Food Awards and USA Today comes hot on the heels of the company’s placement as a finalist in the Martha Stewart Living American Made Awards. In addition, McCrea’s Candies caramels were awarded the Yankee Magazine Editor’s Choice Food Award in 2014 and named Best New Autumn Product at the 2013 New England Made Specialty Food Show. McCrea’s Candies also received Best Candy honors at the 2012 New England Dessert Showcase.

McCrea’s Candies was founded by husband-wife team Jason and Kate McCrea. Building upon backgrounds in biology and chemistry, the McCrea’s transitioned into the sweet science of candy making after double layoffs. Started in a home kitchen, McCrea’s Candies now offers a full line of mouthwatering caramels to retail outlets throughout North America.

The hallmark of the McCrea’s Candies line is its use of striking seasonings to produce provocatively-flavored caramel candies. McCrea’s flagship product features Hawaiian black lava sea salt swirled into caramel to provide a salty-sweet mouthful. Basil and cayenne are combined for a heat and sweet treat. Additional flavor combinations include ginger fusion, curried butternut, and rosemary truffle sea salt. McCrea’s also offers such classic flavors as vanilla, scotch, chocolate, maple, mocha, and coffee.



Gift Ideas from Tortuga Rum Cake Company

Tortuga Rum Cakes editTortuga Rum Cake Company is known world-wide for authentic and original Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cakes. Baked in the Caribbean from a generations old island family recipe, the cakes are made with the finest ingredients and special oak-barrel-aged Tortuga gold rum. Each cake is hand glazed and vacuum sealed, locking in the delicious freshness and giving the cakes a shelf life of 12 months.

The company also offers Chocolate Rum Turtles with Sea Salt, Caribbean sauces, flavored gourmet coffees including single-serve coffee, rum balls and rum fudge. Tortuga is also now offering homemade Salt Water Taffy with Rum. It is made from a special recipe and with the finest ingredients.

Sweet Salt Water Taffy will bring back memories from your travels to sea side destinations including the Caribbean. Each package includes eight unique flavors that are individually wrapped: TORTUGA Rum and Cola, TORTUGA Rum, TORTUGA Coconut Rum, TORTUGA Banana Rum, TORTUGA Mango Rum, TORTUGA Pineapple Rum, TORTUGA Orange Liqueur and TORTUGA Rum Punch.

The taffy boasts a shelf life of 12 months and has received rave reviews on the delicious tropical, rummy flavors. This new treat is a perfect addition to the delicious gourmet products you offer year-round.

Make the Holidays Merrier by Pairing Brownie Brittle and Robert Mondavi Private Selection Wines

One of the nation’s top wine brands has partnered with award-winning Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle to make this holiday season all the more merry. Starting November 1, Robert Mondavi Private Selection wine bottles will be adorned with a coupon offering consumers $1.50 off a 4-ounce or larger bag of Brownie Brittle with purchase, through December 31 at stores nationwide including retailers like Walmart, CVS, Safeway and Albertson’s. In states that do not allow a required wine purchase for coupon, a $2 mail-in rebate will be offered instead.

“Die-hard Brownie Brittle fans already know how well our snack pairs with wine—now we’re making it official with our Robert Mondavi Private Selection partnership,” said Founder Sheila G. Mains. “The partnership is perfectly timed with the release of our holiday flavors: Chocolate Chip with Snowflake Drizzle, Mint Chocolate Chip with Dark Drizzle and Salted Carmel with Dark Drizzle, also hitting shelves this season.”

The wine pairing experts at Robert Mondavi Private Selection recommend pairing their Cabernet Sauvignon with Salted Caramel Brownie Brittle, and Heritage Red with Chocolate Chip Brownie Brittle.

Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle is available in tens of thousands of stores across the globe, including Target, Walmart, Kroger, and Safeway. Brownie Brittle has also been flying high as a snack on United and Alaskan Airlines flights.

The Norman Rockwell Collection from Virginia Diner


Virginia DinerThe Virginia Diner has signed a three year licensing agreement with the Norman Rockwell Family Agency. The license gives the Virginia Diner marketing and sales use of a number of the Norman Rockwell original prints. Scott Stephens, Director of Sales and Marketing with the Virginia Diner states the initial launch has been well received by our wholesale customers. “We recently introduced our Norman Rockwell collection at both the New York Fancy Food Show and the Atlanta Gift Show, realizing record sales from this new product line,” he said.

The complete collection will be available in the fall of 2015 in the Virginia Diner retail and fundraising catalogs, as well as for the company’s national list of retail partners and corporate custom gift customers. “We have incorporated a number of original Norman Rockwell images into our Merry Christmas labels and used various designs to invoke the nostalgia and history of the Diner. There isn’t a more iconic illustration of the holidays than the Norman Rockwell collection,” Stephens said. “We are very excited to be associated with the Norman Rockwell family”.

The full product offering can be previewed by contacting the Virginia Diner at 888.482.6887.


Wide Variety of Confections from Seattle Gourmet Foods

Seattle Gourmet Foods is a food manufacturer based out of Kent, Washington. Growing both organically and through acquisition, today it is comprised of 11 different brands found in retailers around the country. Consisting of a diverse mix of products that include chocolate, breath mints, bakery items, jams, sauces, soups and dry mixes. Every brand and product made contains only the highest quality ingredients. With 160,000 square feet of production facilities, SGF not only has the capabilities to produce its own products, but has the flexibility to provide private label manufacturing as well.

Dilettante Chocolates® is the most recognizable of the Seattle Gourmet Foods’ brands. Founded in 1976 by Dana Davenport, Dilettante continues a family tradition in chocolate and confections that dates back three generations to the late 19th century. For close to 40 years, Dilettante Chocolates has maintained the impeccable quality of handmade truffles, chocolate covered fruits and nuts, TruffleCremes®, sauces, toppings, bakery items and molded chocolate the brand is known for around the world.

Seattle Gourmet Foods editphotoSeattle Gourmet Foods is also one of the premier panning operations in the U.S., with the ability to coat an array of centers, and specializes in double coated products. These are made with custom blends of couverture grade chocolate and uses no compound coating. Under the Dilettante Chocolates brand, there are multiple packaging sizes of this type of product, ranging from a 1.5-ounce. grab-and-go option to several sizes of stand-up pouches to more gift oriented items like 6-ounce candy bags and 16-ounce assortment in a clear tray and lid. All Dilettante panned products are also available in 5-pound bulk bags. Examples of flavors available include Bing Cherries, Fruit Medley® (strawberries, cherries, blueberries and apricots), Sea Salt Cashews, Mint Dropz[R], and Dark Chocolate Espresso Beans. There are also all-natural varieties available in multiple sizes. All of the selections of panned products have a 12-month shelf life.

Another top product for Dilettante Chocolates would be its truffle ganache that has been coated in premium chocolate and individually wrapped, known as TruffleCremes. These come in an array of sizes including 4-ounce novelty boxes, 5-ounce tent boxes, 6-ounce metalized pouches and 10-ounce gift boxes. Bulk cases are also available by request. Flavors include Peppermint, Toffee Crunch, Mocha, Dark Ephemere[R] (dark chocolate), Raspberry, Light Ephemere (milk chocolate), and Coffee Trio containing Espresso, Latte, and Mocha. Seasonal flavors are also available in Candy Cane and Gingerbread. TruffleCremes are all-natural and have a 12-month shelf life.

In 2016, Seattle Gourmet Foods will be displaying multiple brands at the Winter Fancy Food Show, Natural Products Expo West, and Sweets & Snacks Expo. For more information on Seattle Gourmet Foods or on the brands and products produced, visit, email or call toll free at 800.800.9490.

Chocolate Lovers Choosing Savory Flavors


By Richard Thompson


The holidays are quickly approaching, and specialty confectioners are looking beyond fruit infusions to cater to more exotic tastes in their chocolate lines. According to the National Confectioners Association, while shoppers are drawn to traditional favorites, they continue to look for new and different items.

Confectioners haven’t been shy to embrace this taste shift and the $79 million dollar market share it represents.“You have got to get exotic now,” says Jack Epstein, Owner of Chocolate Covered Sweets and Gifts. “This is a global craft chocolate thing now…. Some of the more exotic inclusions that I’ve sold have been the bacon bar, Parmesan bar, blue cheese, porcini mushroom bar and paprika bars.”

The salted caramel and chile infusions that ignited the popularity of flavored chocolates has inspired customers to looks for more unique specialty blends such as the Chocolate Covered Company’s Gourmet Chocolate Covered Jalapenos. This gourmet combination comes in sweet peppers or spicy jalapenos and offers a fiery flavor of sweet and spicy.

The Mo’s Bacon Bar from Vosges Haut Chocolat is infused with applewood-smoked bacon, alderwood-smoked salt and rich milk chocolate, for a campfire aroma that offsets the sweetness of the chocolate. The Super Dark Parmesan-Peppercorn Bar is part of the company’s super dark line, containing 72 percent dark chocolate, yet still maintaining a gooey texture.

“You know, a lot of surprising things can taste great in chocolate. With savory flavors, you can go as far as you’d like, even including umami,” says Brad Kintzer, Chief Chocolate Maker at TCHO. Known as the fifth flavor, umami is finding home in chocolate as a savory inclusion, offering a new chocolate-eating experience, says Kintzer.

Traditional pairings with chocolate are making a comeback too, according to Kintzer.“Maple is a beautiful partner,” he says. In addition to maple flavored chocolates, Kintzer has seen bourbon-infused nips come back into favor, this time with less sugar and fewer preservatives.“It’s chocolate re-calibrated for grown-up tastes,” he says.

Jacky Recchiuti, Creative Director and Owner of Recchiuti Confections, along with her husband Michael Recchiuti, has brought out a new Shiitake Mushroom Truffle, which has an earthy, sweet flavor. “We want to maintain our relationship with Far West Funghi, our neighbor in the Ferry Building, and their shiitake mushroom. It’s not about shock value with these infusions; it’s about pairing [the mushroom] with chocolate and finding a nice balance of flavors,” says Jacky Recchiuti.

Currently, Recchiuti Confections continues to refine its flavor combinations with earthy, smoky hints in its chocolate. The next few months will see the introduction of the company’s new line of nougat candies that will be infused with Chinese Five-spice powder, nullifying the traditionally honey notes with a more earthy punch. This line is expected to be launched by the holiday season.


John Kelly Chocolates Introduces New Artisan Chocolate Bars

Hollywood chocolatier John Kelly Chocolates has just launched new Artisan Chocolate Bars. Developed with acute attention to detail, the new Artisan Chocolate Bars are beautifully packaged, made with all-natural and fair trade ingredients and carefully hand-crafted to provide the highest quality and most delicious taste.

John Kelly newThese bars come in six exceptional flavors including:

  • Dark Chocolate with Fleur de Sel Sea Salt
  • Dark Chocolate with Roasted Almonds & Pink Himalayan Salt
  • Dark Chocolate EspressoDark Chocolate with Habanero & Jalapeño Chile
  • Milk Chocolate with Roasted Almonds & French Grey Sea Salt
  • Milk Chocolate with Roasted Hazelnuts & Mediterranean Sea Salt. 


Both the dark chocolate (73 percent cacao) and milk chocolate (41 percent cacao) bars are non-GMO, and soy and gluten-free. Suggested retail price is $7.50 each.

John Kelly Chocolates Artisan Chocolate Bars are available for purchase at select national retailers such as Neiman Marcus and regional retailers such as Central Market in addition to John Kelly boutique stores in Hollywood and Santa Monica. Online purchases can be made at

McCrea’s Candies: Sophisticated Flavors from Simple Ingredients

By Lorrie Baumann

McCrea’s Candies is a small New England candy maker with a product line exclusively composed of high-quality caramels elegantly packaged for gift-giving. Founded almost five years ago by husband-and-wife team Jason and Kate McCrea, McCrea’s Candies are made without corn syrup or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

“Our flavors are done just like you’d do it in your own kitchen,” Jason says. “For ginger, we juice the root and add the juice to our candy. For our Single-malt Scotch flavor, we use real single-malt Scotch and pour that right into the batch.”

The McCreas were research biologists before they decided to start their candy company, and they use that scientific bent as they develop new flavors of their caramels today. “Understanding food chemistry helps enhance the flavors, and I use chemistry to understand how flavors come together and how to make nice balances. That’s really what we do,” says Jason. The McCreas currently offer 14 flavors, including Irish Coffee, Cafe Noir, Dark Roasted Mocha, Ginger Fusion, Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt, Highland Scotch and Tapped Maple.

McCrea’s Candies are now elegantly packaged for the gift trade after the McCreas learned from their customers that they loved the candies so much that they wanted to share them with their friends, so they were buying them as housewarming and hostess gifts, to send to children away at college or to present to dads on Fathers Day. “We do a lot of farmer’s markets around here, and customers would tell us,” Jason says. “They’d say, ‘I bought three sleeves and we ate them all, but I’d meant to give them to my son when he comes home from school, so now I need more.’ There’s no substitute for being out and talking to customers and listening to them telling you what they want. They’ll tell you the truth; ‘I like this; I don’t like that.’”

“We thought that was very interesting,” he continues. “We never had been going to gift shows – we had been going to food shows, but we decided to listen to our consumers and what they want to have and how we can accommodate them.”

As a result of those conversations the McCrea’s recently redesigned their packaging to focus less on the candy’s all-natural simplicity and more on its sophisticated flavors and high quality – without changing the recipes for the candy inside the packages. The product line’s packaging now includes two sizes of cylindrical sleeves plus a new-to-the line pillow box and a large party box that’s popular with customers who take them to dinner parties instead of a bottle of wine or present them as corporate gifts.

The Mill Fudge Factory Offers Mouth-Watering Gifts for 2015 Holiday Season

In time for the 2015 holiday season, the family-owned and operated Mill Fudge Factory & Ice Cream Café is now offering its delectable line of hand-crafted fudge nationally through its online shop at the The Bristol, New Hampshire-based small business, founded by the Munro family in 2006, uses the family’s secret Scottish recipe and 100 percent natural ingredients to create authentic fudge unlike any that can be found on this side of the Atlantic.

The Mill Fudge Factory fudge is available in an assortment of classic and inventive flavors, including Belgian Chocolate, Chocolate Walnut, Natural Peanut Butter, Scottish Whiskey, Pure New Hampshire Maple, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Pumpkin Pie and much more. The Factory also offers an assortment of decadent truffles and toffee. All confections are available in gift baskets and elegant sampler boxes.

“We take pride in creating fudge true to the recipe of my grandfather in Scotland and we do it right here in New England,” said Mill Fudge Factory Co-Owner and General Manager Noah Munro. “People tell us they can taste the care we put into our fudge. We’re so happy that we can now share it with folks across the U.S. Our fudge makes for a unique Halloween treat, a great addition to the Thanksgiving table and a fabulous Christmas or Hanukkah gift.”

Snack Food Makers Turn to Clean Ingredients, Adventurous Flavors


By Lorrie Baumann

The global market for snack foods is now worth about $36 billion according to market research firm IBISWorld, which also reports that the industry is benefiting from the introduction of more healthy snacks and favorable product pricing. Over the next five years, the snack food industry is predicted to continue growing as the economy strengthens and people have more disposable income to spend, leading them to trade in their junk food for premium snack foods that meet their criteria for the flavorful foods with simpler ingredients labels that they’re seeking out for their meals.

There’s a lot of talk about a cleaner label. We’ve been seeing a lot more requests, and customers are coming up with their own lists of what they don’t want to see,” says AnnMarie Kraszewski, a food scientist at Wixon, which makes foods and flavorings used as ingredients by a wide range of product manufacturers. The companies with which Wixon works are asking for recipes that avoid anything artificial, anything that sounds more like it came from a chemistry laboratory rather than a pantry, she said. “It makes formulating a little more difficult, but in terms of the end product, it comes out rather nice, and the consumer likes to see the label, and so they feel better about the product…. Usually the customer tells us a profile they’re looking for. You try and make something that tastes fresh, whether that’s with herbs, unique chile peppers, things that make it a little more interesting. The bulk of the profiles that come in are savory, but there’s a lot of interest in sweet-heat or sweet-savory – a combination like maple and thyme, for instance.”

Dangerously Delicious Black Licorice Chocolate Toffee

Laurie & Sons is a start-up company that’s making its Dangerously Delicious Black Licorice Chocolate Toffee in La Marqueta, an East Harlem commercial kitchen incubator sponsored by New York City. The product received the 2015 sofi Award for Outstanding Chocolate, and it’s the first chocolate-enrobed crisp licorice toffee confection using real licorice root, according to Founder and Owner Laurie Pauker. The product is on the sweet side of the snack food continuum, and Pauker intends to keep her company’s product line of toffees and brittles firmly targeted at that category rather than among the gourmet gifts because Pauker and her three sons, who are the company’s chief product testers, believe that the era of calorie-dense, nutrition deficient snacks has passed. “It might be sweet snacks or might be savory snacks, but it’s all things made with good ingredients. The predecessors are no longer acceptable,” she said. “I think we’re moving more in that direction anyhow. People are snacking more than ever, and those foods need to be made better. They need to meet higher standards.”

The product line includes a couple of flavors of brittles that are baked rather than kettled: Toasted Almond Brittle and Mayan Spice Brittle. “It lets us make the product in a way that incorporates brown rice flour instead of some of the sugar. It’s incredibly light. It’s lower calories, but you feel like you’ve had something tasty and satisfying,” she said. “Portion control is easy because the pieces are sized to let you know what you’re eating, and they’re packaged in resealable pouches so you can take them with you.”

The candy that excited the sofi Award judges was inspired by a candy that Pauker’s grandfather used to give her when she was a little girl. “It was fantastic and it was chewy,” Pauker says today. “One of the things we’ve focused on is putting flavor in toffee. It’s a great vehicle for flavor and spice.” The Dangerously Delicious Black Licorice Chocolate Toffee is gluten free and flavored with bold black licorice underlined with freshly ground star anise and a little bit of pernod, a combination that lends depth to the flavor of the toffee. It’s made without corn syrup, preservatives or food coloring. The chocolate coating amplifies the licorice flavor, and each piece is topped with black Hawaiian lava salt to add crunch as well as flavor. “That took several months of experimenting to balance the right ratio of black licorice to star anise, but I think we found the right balance,” Pauker says. “As for the ‘dangerous’ part of the name, it’s dangerous because it’s so good and also because black licorice should not be eaten in great quantities. It’s like absinthe in that way. It has a little bit of a dangerous side to it.”

fusion JERKY

On the savory side of snacking, KaiYen Mai set out last year to make meat jerky that had the soft texture of the products made in her family’s company for the past 50 years but with modern flavors and ingredient labels that were cleaner than those of many of the jerky products already on the market. Her family had been making jerky in the United States for 35 years and in Taiwan before that, and when it came time for her to take over the family business, she decided to venture out with a new brand as well as keeping the family’s existing product lines on the market. Thus, fusion JERKY, which offers all natural, minimally processed beef, pork, turkey and chicken jerky in bold flavor profiles and with a soft texture that appeals to women and children as well as men, came to be. Basil Citrus Artisan Beef Jerky, Chipotle Lime Artisan Beef Jerky, Garlic Jalapeno Artisan Pork Jerky, Island Teriyaki Artisan Pork Jerky, Chili Basil Artisan Turkey Jerky, Rosemary Citrus Artisan Turkey Jerky, Lemon Pepper Artisan Chicken Jerky and Basil Citrus Artisan Chicken Jerky are offered in 3-ounce bags that sell for $6 to $7. They are made without preservatives or MSG and are gluten free. “It’s a clean label, so when you read the ingredients, you can actually read and understand it,” Mai said. There is currently not an organic product in the line because using all organic ingredients would make the product price-prohibitive in its market, she added. “We’re one of the first ones to do a natural chicken jerky. A lot of people are surprised by chicken jerky. A lot of people who don’t want to eat red meat turn to white meat, so this is another choice for them,” she said. “We’re also trying to make it affordable, which is why we’re not making an organic product at this time. I’d have to reduce the size and sell them for a much higher price. I just don’t think that’s affordable and reasonable for the average consumer.”

The Better Chip

The makers of The Better Chip are among those consciously defining their product line as lifestyle-focused alternative snacks for consumers who are looking for cleaner labels as well as exciting flavors. Ingredients for The Better Chip products, including whole grains and vegetables, are sourced straight from farms. All ingredients are gluten free and non-GMO, and they contain no trans fats. The company adds no topical flavor enhancers, so the flavors are inside the chips rather than coming off on fingers, says Andrea Brule, Vice President/General Manager. “We take a hard line on that. They’re not flavored like something, they just are.”

The Better Chip was designed to be merchandised in the deli department rather than on the chip aisle, so that they share that space with the items with which they’re usually served as part of a meal or at a party. The company very definitely had in mind that they wanted to make a chip that consumers would feel good about photographing and sharing on their social media. “When we developed the chip, we decided to source fresh ingredients and use that as a basis for a snack line that would meet those criteria for clean ingredients and healthy foods while at the same time using engaging flavors that are bragworthy, shareworthy. So when consumers put them on the table with hummus and yogurt dip and cured meats, our chips, in the variety of flavors they come in, are the canvas for how they want to express themselves,” Brule says. “They’re developed for today’s consumers with simple ingredients sourced straight from farms, ideal for entertaining and experimenting with…. My happiest days are when I see people engaging with the product in creative ways. The flavors and the colors really lend themselves to people looking for what they can create with it.”

This story was originally published in the August 2015 issue of Gourmet News, a publication of Oser Communications Group.


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