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From Jersey to Germany: How Sweet it Is!


Jersey Bites welcomes guest blogger Janis Grover who, along with Donna George, traveled from the Jersey Shore to the Rhine River to explore new trends in confections in Cologne, Germany. Comparing chocolates from around the world with salt water taffy is hard work, but someone has to do it! 

Amaretto morbido

Janis Grover at ICM

On its own website, ISM is described as “the world’s largest trade fair for snacks and sweets.” At ISM 2016, 1,600 snacks and confection companies competed for the attention of 38,500 visitors in Cologne. The New Year’s Eve riot in front of Cologne Cathedral was only steps away from the exhibition hall, so increased security made getting into the show to taste the most decadent desserts a bit challenging. Add to the experience the timing of Carnival with traveling troubadours in medieval costumes (swords included) breaking into song. The atmosphere was a combination of sugar overload and heightened excitement both inside and outside the show. We started our adventure by joining a local troupe with a snack of beer and pretzels.

Full Fashion Fun

Confection companies competed for attention with towering sugary sculptures, giant cartoon characters, celebrity endorsements, floor-shaking music and extraordinary claims of the health benefits of eating more candy, chocolate and cookies. Who can resist fine European chocolate molded into designer stilettos?

Chocolate is Universal

Russian exhibitors helpfully translated Plan B (pictured at top) as the chocolate you need when you have a terrible day and get a traffic ticket. (It reminded us of those days looking at traffic on the GSP and deciding to try a shortcut. Oh well!)

Vicenzi factory tour

Grover (left) and George on their Vicenzi factory tour.

Lost in Translation

Our trip included a tiramisu contest (a team-building exercise that only an Italian cookie company would organize). We concluded our trip with a visit to Verona, Italy, to tour the Matilde Vicenzi production plant. Their soft amaretto was a delightful highlight. Rutgers would be pleased to know this English B.A. was asked to proofread the packaging. Explaining that morbid was more associated with zombies than fine bakery products resulted in changing the description from morbido to tenero (both mean soft in Italian) and, I hope, enhanced the appeal.

Janis H. Grover, president, Janis H Grover LLC, is a brand manager consultant with over 25 years experience in specialty foods. She collaborates with Donna L George, Donna L George LLC.

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