By Lorrie Baumann
Bissinger’s is offering two summery new flavors of its Gummy Pandas. Strawberry Mango and Tart Cherry & Lime join a line-up that already included Blueberry Acai, Pink Grapefruit with Grapeseed, Pomegranate White Tea, Raspberry Yumberry and Blackberry Hibiscus Gummy Pandas. “They’re well-liked by children, but they’re sophisticated enough for adults,” said Dave Owens, Bissinger’s Chief Chocolatier and Vice President of Taste. “They have a true-to-nature taste.”
Like the other flavors in the line, the new Gummy Pandas are gluten free, dairy free and contain no high fructose corn syrup. They’re packaged in a 3-ounce pouch that retails for $4.99.
Bissinger’s also debuted its Caramelized Blood Orange bar, which is 60 percent dark chocolate. Made with a blood orange-rosemary caramel with hazelnuts and cocoa nibs, the 3-ounce bar retails for $4.99. The bar is gluten free, and the early reviews are enthusiastic.
There are 10 bars in the line, including Coconut Caramel and Honey Pepita Caramel, which has roasted salted pepitas on the back of the bar, lots of honey taste and guajillo chili for a whisper of spice.
Bissinger’s Chocolate-Covered Wine Grapes are made from Muscat grapes that have dried into raisins on the vine. They’re infused with Shiraz wine and then enrobed in 60 percent dark chocolate. This is not a new product, but the packaging has been updated. They come in a 3.5-ounce pouch that retails for $5.99 as well as an 8-ounce gift box that retails for $14.99.
Many of these products originated in the kitchen of Chief Chocolatier Owens, who’s been Bissinger’s Vice President of Taste for nine years after coming to Bissinger’s after a 30-year career in the restaurant business. His assignment at Bissinger’s includes new product development, and in that role, it’s his responsibility to ensure that the legacy brought by the company’s 350 years of history is maintained as the product line also evolves to appeal to changing tastes. Doing that isn’t about responding to trends, Owens said: “We try to be in front of our consumers to know what they want before they want it.”
Like the days when Owens was developing a new dish to serve in his restaurant, a new Bissinger’s candy starts with a concept. Owens rolls that thought around in his mind until he can taste it, and then he goes into his lab to work on it. In the case of the Caramelized Blood Orange bar, it was the rosemary that got added into the recipe in the course of that work. Its herbaceous note adds a complexity to the bar that Owens really likes and that he thinks will resonate with consumers on the hunt for a new flavor sensation.
Though the other flavors change with the times, and many of them come and go in the product line, there’s one flavor that doesn’t change, and that’s the Bissinger’s chocolate. All of the chocolate that Bissinger’s uses is made in Europe – it all comes from one liquor, so that the milk chocolate and the different dark chocolates have common flavor notes. “It’s all cohesive,” Owens said. “That’s why we have customers for life…. We meet customers in their 80s who tell us they’ve been eating it since they were a small child. They can tell me more about the company than even I know.”