Leftovers: Starburst takes flight with aerated gummy; Pebbles cereal hits the candy aisle

Leftovers is our look at a few of the product ideas popping up everywhere. Some are intriguing, some sound amazing and some are the kinds of ideas we would never dream of. We can’t write about everything that we get pitched, so here are some leftovers pulled from our inboxes. 

Will Starburst Airs take flight in the gummy candy category?

Starburst lovers are used to the taffy texture of the candy, but Mars Wrigley is giving them a new take on the classic sweet.

The gum and confectionary giant will be launching Starburst Airs, a new aerated gummy that a Mars Wrigley executive described as a “combination of Starburst flavors in a pillow-like texture.”

Starburst Airs will come in two different packs, Original and Sour Tropical, featuring flavors Starburst consumers are already familiar with. The gummies are set to make a limited debut in select stores this fall before a wider launch in 2022.

Haribo and Trolli have traditionally had a grip on the gummy candy market, but Mars Wrigley is no stranger to the space as the distributor of Lifesavers Gummies. This year, the company debuted a new iteration of one of its other popular candies with Skittles Gummies, allowing consumers to taste the rainbow in a whole new way.

The global gummies and jellies market is projected to reach $40 billion by 2024, according to a report by Market Research Future. Other companies have taken notice, notably Bazooka with Ring Pop Gummy Gems and Totally Awesome Dragons and Unicorns Gummies.

At this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo in June, an array of new gummies were announced, including Jelly Belly Gummies, based on the classic jelly beans, as well as a vegan brand of gummy bears, VegoBear. In what is now a crowded gummy space, Mars Wrigley’s Starburst Airs could be unique enough for sales to take off.

— Chris Casey

Courtesy of Post Holdings


Yabba-dabba-doo! Pebbles candy hits store shelves

While the Flintstones dined on Brontosaurus Burgers and big slabs of meat, today’s consumers now have a far sweeter treat to enjoy.

Fans of the modern Stone Age family and the breakfast staple Pebbles can enjoy their favorite cereal in a new candy form with the rollout of Fruity Pebbles Bites and Cocoa Pebbles Bites.

The snacks, which are made by confectioner Frankford Candy, are half-inch balls of creamy white candy mixed with real cereal pieces. They come in a 10-ounce package designed to resemble a cereal box and are available exclusively at Five Below stores nationwide.

“Consumers are looking for products that offer them a way to keep sweet treats on hand but in smaller sizes that allow them to indulge in moderation,” said Molly Jacobson, director of business development at Frankford Candy. “We developed our new Pebbles Bites to give fans another way to enjoy their favorite cereal in a bite-sized candy form that is ideal for a quick snack or treat.”

Pebbles, the first brand created around a TV show character, was introduced in 1971 after cereal maker Post secured the licensing rights. The brand has been expanding recently beyond its cereal roots with Pebbles-flavored International Delight creamers, Pebbles protein powder from Dymatize, a Pebbles candy bar and even makeup.

While younger consumers today may be more familiar with the Pebbles brand through the cereal than the cartoon, Post is doing its best to keep the 50-year-old offering and its characters top-of-mind with consumers through its licensing deals. 

In its August earnings report, Post highlighted Pebbles as “a bright spot” and touted its “exceptional performance.” Even though the cereal remains a hit for Post, the tie-ins through unusual categories like makeup and coffee creamers gives the brand valuable exposure beyond its usual cereal aisle that could play a major role in helping sustain its positive momentum. 

— Christopher Doering

Courtesy of PRNewswire


Nerds gets nerdy with Dungeons & Dragons tie-in

With its newest launch, Nerds candy is embracing a favorite nerdy pastime.

Ferrera’s pebble-shaped crunchy fruity candy isn’t adopting a new flavor or color. Instead, it’s limited-edition packaging that ties in with the classic role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. 

The theater box-sized Rainbow Nerds and pouches of Nerds Gummy Clusters feature drawings of cartoon Nerds candy characters decked out in armor, bearing spell books and carrying bows and arrows on a D&D-style quest. Nearby, what looks like a cross between a monster and a treasure chest chomps on some Nerds candy.

Uploading receipts from purchasing these Nerds packages unlocks unique role-playing quests for one player and one Dungeon Master — well suited for an adult to do with a child, several gaming websites say. There are six characters and quests in all. Downloading all six quests unlocks a special seventh Nerds-themed quest, according to Nerdist.

Dungeons & Dragons, which is one of the world’s best known role-playing games, started in 1974 with boxed versions written by gaming aficionados Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. In the last 47 years, the original game has spawned numerous expansions, quests, books, video games, magazines, TV shows and movies. And while some argue the game is not nerdy, there is no shortage of memes online celebrating the “nerdy humor” of D&D.

Nerds candy has been around almost as long as Dungeons & Dragons, making its debut in 1983. A Medium article detailing the candy’s popularity indicates the name came from Dr. Seuss’s “If I Ran the Zoo,” which mentions a “nerd” among silly fantasy animals. Though by the 1980s, “nerd” was a common slang term for someone who prefers being studious. 

Though the crunchy candy is nearly 40, it’s not too late for Nerds to get nerdy. And as has been shown through the years, what’s considered nerdy can actually be pretty well accepted.

In 2017, an estimated 12 million to 15 million people in North America played Dungeons & Dragons, Nathan Stewart, brand director and executive producer, told The Seattle Times. And the game has become even more popular during the pandemic. That sweetens the deal for any tie-in, even if it is nerdy.

— Megan Poinski

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