Celebrate National Candy Day with These Fun Facts

Candy has become an everyday treat readily accessible everywhere from checkout lines at the grocery store to vending machines at work so we’ve got a few fun facts listed below that you can share with your friends on November 4 for #NationalCandyDay!

The first form of candy to make its way to America was rock candy. As one of the simplest types of candy, it was a luxury only the wealthy could afford. The first American vending machine was introduced in 1888 and dispensed Tutti Fruity Gum, but that wasn’t even the beginning of America’s love affair with candy.

Chocolate started in 1847 in Britain when Joseph Fry and his son mixed cocoa powder and sugar to make a candy bar. After the idea traveled across the ocean in 1875, Henry Nestle decided to add milk to the concoction, making the chocolate taste less bitter. From there Milton Hershey had his eyes on chocolate-making machines he found at the Chicago World’s Fair. After already making caramel, he couldn’t resist the opportunity and one year later, the world got the first chocolate bar from Hershey.

After that, chocolate bars took off as a special treat! Starting with the Clark bar in 1916, Oh Henry! Bar in 1920, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in 1922, and Baby Ruth and Milky Way in 1923. With more and more chocolate delights being added to the industry, it makes sense why the United States consumes roughly $18.27 billion dollars’ worth a year.

We’ve got even more fun candy facts listed below! Be sure to tell us your favorite candy by leaving a comment or reach out to us on our Twitter and Facebook.

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Healthy Vending Trends

Many food trends come and go, but one thing that has stayed consistent is that people like healthy foods. Vending machines are continuing to offer healthier options in order to meet consumer demand. Vending Market Watch said, “More than a quarter of Americans (30%) claim to usually only snack on healthy foods and almost half (45%) of those consumers claim that nutritional value is the most important factor in the foods they eat.” Consumers prefer having healthier choices so those vending machines that offer better snacks are more likely to succeed.

Vending machines have come a long way over the years. In the past vending machines were often thought of for only selling candy, soda, snacks, and other indulgent foods. Today, society is so fast paced that people are always looking for a quick and healthy snack, so vending machines are offering healthier options. Consumers should take a few minutes to look at the vending machine to make the healthiest choices.

Schools are especially trying to offer healthier products in order to offer nutritious options for students. Some vending machines are refrigerated to sell sandwiches, quick meals, fruit, and vegetables. Other healthier vending options include nuts and popcorn. Although there are healthier options available today, there are still many indulgent options that are high in fat, sugar, salt, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. When looking to make a purchase, find items that are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, or other nutritional benefits.

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Companies can help employees make better snack choices at the vending machine by:

  • Putting signs or stickers by the healthier items to make them more noticeable
  • Subsidizing the cost of healthier products to encourage employees to purchase healthy items over unhealthy items
  • Having taste test events with employees to allow everyone to try the healthier options
  • Providing educational nutritional programs for employees about healthy snack choices
  • Working with the vending company to increase the number of healthy choices available

Cornell University researchers proved that junk food is not causing the obesity epidemic, but it is the fact that people are overeating. With this in mind, it is okay to indulge yourself to a treat once in a while as long as you do so in moderation. Vending companies will continue to add healthier options to their vending machines so be sure to choose products that meet your nutritional needs, but be sure to treat yourself once in a while.

Let us know what healthy products you would like to see in vending machines!

 

Snacking around the World

The variety of snacks you can get just by walking into your average grocery store can be pretty mesmerizing. You can get chips that come in a plethora of flavors; you can get pretzels (sweet or salty); you can get candy or chocolate bars; you can get cookies or crackers; you can get nuts or seeds, and the list really goes on endlessly. In the US, chips and cookies are the staple snack, but around the world, palates and flavors differ entirely.

We brought in some unusual snacks from around the world to the office and had everyone give them a try. Then we had everyone guess which country the snacks originated from. It was a blast seeing everyone’s amusement with the kinds of snacks we laid out. Here’s what went down.

We managed to get some of the snacks from local ethnic markets in Des Moines, but had to order the rest online because they were too difficult to find.

Boxes from Amazon

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First up, they tried some Dela Rosa, a sweet marzipan peanut candy from Mexico. They came individually packed in little round pieces, and it was a powdery consistency that pretty much broke once we opened the little wrappers. No one could guess where this was from, but we definitely weren’t expecting that level of sweetness from it.

De La Rosa box De La Rosa open box

Next, everyone had a go at TimTams. I think these were the safest looking food on the table, and everyone just loved them. We even had people asking for seconds. This Australian chocolate cookie snack is a definite must-try :) They are available on Amazon in the US!

Tim Tam Tim Tam Open

These little burgers are the cutest thing you’ll ever eat, AND they are delicious! At first, they seemed a little curious, but when everyone had one, we were very much immediate fans of Every Burger! This Japanese snack is actually a rich chocolate sandwiched between mini wheat cookies. Who else would come up with little chocolate burger snacks, other than the Japanese :)

Every Burger Every Burger PacketEvery Burger Opened

Dried cuttlefish is actually a pretty typical Asian snack, especially in China. It is very much just plain dried cuttlefish, and it has quite a sweet tang. Unfortunately. it also packs in a heavy fishy smell that had everyone on their feet before trying a tiny piece of this. As it turns out, most Americans probably will have a hard time overcoming that smell long enough to enjoy this interesting snack, although there were one or two people at the office who actually enjoyed this one!

Dried Cuttle Fish Dried Cuttle Fish packaging

These squid-flavored peanuts are common on Korea (although this packet is from Japan). They seemed a little peculiar at first, but everyone seemed to enjoy them. In fact, they were really addictive and the bag was gone before we could get proper pictures of the little squid-peanut balls :)

Roasted Squid-flavored Peanuts

Next on the menu, Muruku from India! This was the easiest to guess which country it came from, and everyone got it right. It has a distinct spice and curry taste and is a common savory, crunchy snack in India. Definitely a simple, but flavor-packed snack to try if you ever get the chance !

Muruku Muruku pieces

This last snack is a fun walk down memory lane for 90s kids in Malaysia and Singapore. No one got this guess right, but they were very much amused with its ramen-ness.

Mamee Monster Mamee Monster Opened

That was a real fun activity to have in the office. What other interesting snacks have you tried from around the world? Let us know, and maybe we’ll try them in the next round :)

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Apple Pay Anyone?

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After the release of the iPhone 6, one of Apple’s most talked-about new features is Apple Pay. There has been a lot of buzz in the market regarding the new application for our phones, and we thought it’d be a worthy topic to discuss.

Did you know though, that these wireless payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Wallet are not the first of their kind? The Nokia Communicator, released in 1996, could be considered one of the first smartphones in the world. The Finns were actually the first people to use these Communicators to wirelessly make payments at vending and parking machines. Basically what they would do was send a text message to a particular machine and the payment would be billed to their service provider later.

Nokia Communicator Series

So what about Apple Pay – how does that work? The setup is fairly simple; you can add credit/debit cards to your Passbook application by keying the details in manually, or by taking a photo of your card itself. Once your card has been verified, Apple Pay is then ready to be used in stores and even for in-app purchases. In participating stores, all you need to do at checkout is select the card you want to use and hold your iPhone over the NFC (near-filed communication) system with your finger (registered with Touch ID) over the home button. Voila! Then when a payment is complete, you will be notified by a beep, vibration and a check mark on your screen. Check out this video from Walgreens to see how it works:

Seems simple doesn’t it? But of course, with everything there are its individual benefits and drawbacks. Let’s talk about a few of them that we’ve been noticing in reviews all across the Internet.

Apple Pay Pros & Cons

Benefits:

  • It’s simple and easy to use. It acts as an all-in-one application where all your cards are stored and all you need to do is hold your phone out to make payments in stores with NFC systems at their checkout stations
  • You can even make app and in-app purchases with it
  • Apple Pay uses “tokenization” in storing card information, which is a security feature that allows each credit card’s number to be substituted with a different ID number for every transaction. This ID is the information that merchant’s receive on their point-of-sale systems when customers make payments.
  • To make payments using Apple pay, you require Touch ID (fingerprint verification)

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Lack of participation of merchants. Sure there are a ton of merchants that already accept Apply Pay, but there are still a ton more that need to adopt to idea
  • Only certain credit cards work with Apple Pay, and you might need the latest Apple devices for it to actually work
  • The ‘Find My iPhone’ feature can be used to quickly suspend payments from your phone, but in order for that to work, the phone must be receiving cellular or Wi-Fi signals, which means if phone is switched off, you won’t be able to do it
  • It is definitely convenient, but it can also be a security drawback of how simple it is to take a photo of your credit card to add it to your Passbook

What do you think of Apple Pay? Let us know if you’ve tried it out and how you like it :)

All Hallows’ Eve and Pumpkin Festivities!

Happy Halloween!

What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?
PUMPKIN PI!

That’s right, it’s that time of the year again where we stock up candy inventories, plan out costumes, show off makeup skills and start to see pumpkin everywhere. And when we say “everywhere”, we really mean everywhere! We all know about the Pumpkin Spice Latte and the Pumpkin Oreos, but there are a couple of other interesting Halloween-themed products out there every year! Let’s take a look at some of them!

Cheetos Bag of Bones

What do you think of this first one? Cheetos Bag of Bones – they’re not exactly pumpkin-flavored, but they are definitely Halloween-themed! We bet they taste just as good as regular Cheetos and are extra fun to assemble!

Trident Pumpkin Spice LayersThe next one is Trident gum, what about these? Not sure what pumpkin gum is going to taste like and we haven’t seen these around, but we’re sure it’s going to be real interesting.

Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows

Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows! These have been around for a few years now and come out around this season every year. They’re pretty great actually – they make really interesting s’mores if you like pumpkin :)

TruMoo Halloween Milk

Orange Cream-Flavored Milk by TruMoo.This is new to us and is definitely a change from the usual full-cream milk or chocolate/strawberry milk. The color is very much appealing though! This will do great at the side with some pumpkin pie 😛

Disney Parks Pumpkin Fritters

Even the Disney Parks are getting into this holiday mood! Check out their menu add-ons and changes to fit in with this pumpkin-filled season here! These pumpkin fritters look amazing!

Ever wondered how pumpkins became associated with Halloween? It was brought to the US by the Irish; who had been carving “Jack-o’-Lanterns” for centuries. They say that the practice actually originated from an Irish myth about a man named “Stingy Jack”. If you’d like you learn more about Stingy Jack, click here. Don’t forget to share with us what other crazy Halloween snacks you’ve come across!

Have a Happy Halloween everyone!

SUGAR RUSH: Candy Bars are the bomb!

Milky Way Candy Bar Header

A while ago we came across Mars’ limited edition Milky Way French Vanilla and Caramel and we were just absolutely craving the bar at the sound of it! Later, this limited edition candy bar was introduced into the vending and micro market channels and now, the bar is back! New, interesting flavors of common products are just so intriguing, plus, there have been so many of these kinds of products in the market recently – especially when something new is trending or when seasons/holidays are around the corner. Let’s take a closer look at the Milky Way French Vanilla and Caramel bar with some reviews

Milky Way Review 1 Milky Way Review 2

Milky Way also has Caramel Apple Minis during Halloween. What a fun themed candy bar for such a festive season! Has anyone given these a try? We can’t wait to get our hands on these this coming Halloween! Here’s a review of them from FatGuyFoodBlog:

Milky Way Review 3

Tell us what you think of this yummy candy bar if you’ve tried it!

Sharing is Caring; Share-A-Coke!

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It’s created a lot of hype recently and people all over the US are scouring stores in search of their names on Coke bottles and cans. The Share-A-Coke campaign this Summer 2014 is a big hit and takes product personalization to the next level. Coke has not only replaced their logo with 250 of the most popular names on some of their 20oz bottles, but the Share A Coke Tour with over 500 stops nationally gives people the chance to personalize 2 of coke cans of their own – one for themselves and one for a loved-one or friend. For the tour, Coke has set up a ton of cool vending machines that print custom names on cans instantaneously and dispense them to you! There haven’t been any stops in Iowa but we’ve seen a ton of names in stores here and it’s extremely exciting! We’ve also seen in stores; 12oz coke cans with nicknames such as “BFF”, “Gamer”, “Legend”, “Buddy”, and “Star”, just to name a few.

The campaign has also created a huge amount of buzz on social media for Coke, especially with Instagram and Facebook. As of mid-July, there had already been more than 125,000 posts about the campaign.So all-in-all, we’d say the campaign has already seen success, not only with brand conversion among purchasers but mainly with the online community.

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The Share-A-Coke Tour even came by Iowa State University a short while ago and we made a bunch of cans for ourselves and our friends! Here’s a picture of our cute customized cans:

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Did you find your name? Let us know! Don’t forget to #shareacoke when you share your pictures on Instagram and Facebook

What’s Your Lay’s Summer Flavor?

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Frito-Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest in the US was a big hit again this summer with over 14 million submissions. Last year’s winning flavor –Cheesy Garlic Bread– was released to stores just a few weeks after the contest, and this year the contest brought about a whole bunch of new and bizarre flavors to the finals! There are a couple of really interesting ones this year so let’s take a look at them and some of the opinions from Huffington Post.

Lays BaconMac

Finalist #1: Lay’s Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese by Matt Allen
Classic American comfort food with a twist of Bacon – how great does that sound?! We think this flavor will do really well on shelves, even though it’s one of the more ‘normal’ flavors that we’ve seen in the contest.

Lays Cappuccino

Finalist #2: Lay’s Cappuccino by Chad Scott
This one is interesting enough! Who would’ve thought of a coffee-flavored potato chip?! Well, Chad did! This flavor probably has the most bizarre take on chips since most people would need to expect it to be more on the sweet end instead of the savory snack that chips are supposed to be.

Lays Mango

Finalist #3: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Mango Salsa by Julia Stanley-Metz
Salsa in my chips? Well why not?! This flavor is pretty ingenious just because it’s a flavor that conforms so well to the idea of chips. Hopefully the Mango gives it the extra kick it needs to take it to the next level.

Lays Wasabi

Finalist #4: Lay’s Wavy Wasabi Ginger by Meneko Spigner McBeth
This flavor is pretty exotic – definitely not your average chip flavor. If this bag of chips somehow reminds us of sushi, lay some on us! We just hope that the taste of wasabi and ginger isn’t too overwhelming and spicy.

All 4 of these flavors will be out on shelves in a few weeks and we’re really excited to give them a try! Each of these flavors has their strengths and everyone is going to have their own preference, so it’s going to be a close call! But that Cappuccino flavor is just so intriguing though, it’s definitely at the top of our list anyway. What about you?

Remember to save your favorite flavor at the Official Lay’s Do Us A Flavor site!