Tuesday, July 7, 2020

All About Sponge Candy: What is it and how is it made?


The label typically reads “sponge candy,” but you may also know this candy as cinder block, sea foam, fairy food, angel food or a multitude of other names. Each of these names are referring to the same type of candy with origins that are rather vague, but appear to have started in the Buffalo, New York area. Additionally, it can be found scattered from coast to coast in the northern third of the U.S. and some areas of Canada.

For decades, Vande Walle’s Candies has been making sponge candy that keeps customers coming back for more. Keep reading as Tom Vande Walle shares the basics of this confection, plus tips and tricks for making sponge candy that customers crave.

WHAT IS IT?

What exactly is sponge candy? Basically, it is a hard candy to which baking soda is added, causing it to foam up, similar to that of a light, airy peanut brittle. Later gelatin is added to hold the foamy structure while the batch cools. When cool, the candy has a crisp, crunchy quality at first, but then will melt in your mouth.

Sponge-type candy can be made with slight variations, such as substituting molasses or honey for some of the sugar, using different D.E. (dextrose equivalent) corn syrup or adding flavors such as orange or mint. Some recipes even call for vinegar. Though confectioners can make it differently, what keeps them similar is that they all have the same airy texture that soaks up moisture very easily. Perhaps these variations help explain why there are so many names for the same basic candy.

HOW IS IT MADE?

Making sponge candy is really not any more difficult than making peanut brittle. Here is a quick general rundown of the procedure for making sponge candy:

Cook sugar, corn syrup and water to about 310°F/ 154°C. Let that mixture cool down to about 30°F/-1°C, then mix in gelatin and then add baking soda. Next, pour mixture into a square insulated box with a heavy floating cover and let cool overnight. The next morning, cut one to two inches of the candy off all the way around the outside of the block of candy with a handsaw and discard. Cut the remaining center into bite-sized pieces and enrobe in chocolate.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS

When making sponge candy it is important to keep the following points in mind:

  • The gelatin must be completely mixed in before adding the baking soda or the result will be burnt streaks in the block after it is cool.
  • Another cause of the center of the block to be burnt could be from not letting the batch cool enough before adding the baking soda. The baking soda must be mixed in and the batch poured out quickly if a fine texture is desired.
  • Also, humidity that is too high, over 50%, after the candy is cooked will cause it to become gummy, especially after it is cut and before it is enrobed in chocolate.
  • About half the weight of each batch will be trimmed from the outside of the block and will need to be disposed.
  • The dust from cutting the block into pieces will settle on you and everything around you.
  • The pounds per hour of production will be lower than many other candies due to its light weight.
  • It can be sold with or without being enrobed in chocolate. If it is cut and packaged in low humidity conditions, it can have a shelf life of more than six months.

By any name, sponge candy is a highly sought-after confection in the northern region of the United States and Canada. Although it is a polarizing confection, those who love it, really love it and will buy it for themselves and for their loved ones during the holidays, for special celebrations and just because.

Share in the comments below if you love sponge candy, what you call it and what area you are from.

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Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Tips for Making Caramel Stick to Apples + Summer Inspiration

Have you ever experienced problems with caramel slipping off your caramel apples? The wax on your apple may be the culprit. By simply wiping each apple with a damp cloth prior to dipping, you can remove the waxy residue that rests on the apples.

An apple naturally produces a waxy film to protect itself, however, in some instances additional food-grade wax is added by suppliers to further increase an apple’s shelf life. For this reason, it could save you time and effort to request unwaxed apples from your supplier, if they do add wax to their apples.

If that doesn’t help, consider adding white compound to your caramel at a 5 to 1 ratio to help it better adhere to the apple.

If you can’t wait to test this out, here’s a few summer-inspired caramel apples ideas to try too!

Patriotic Caramel Apples
Show your patriotic stripes with drizzles of red and blue over a white chocolate coated caramel apple.

 

Zesty Coconut Caramel Apples
Think tropical by adding a generous helping of toasted coconut and a little lime zest to your caramel apples.

 

Wormy Caramel Apple
Turn shoppers heads with these fun, wormy caramel apples!

S’mores Caramel Apples
Transform your caramel apples into a s’mores lover’s dream by adding layers of graham crackers, marshmallows and drizzled chocolate. 

Was this tip helpful? If so, let us know in the comments below.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Trend Alert: 5 Must Try Tie-Dye Ideas

Whether you like it or not, tie-dye is one of the biggest fashion trends of 2020—no doubt thanks to quarantined DIYers looking to pass time and upcycle their wardrobes.

Oftentimes popular fashion trends find their way into other industries. With all the fun, bright colors and happy vibes it creates, we think the tie-dye trend is a perfect fit for the candy industry. If you’re looking to jump on this psychedelic bandwagon, keep reading for five must-try tie-dye ideas. 

Tie-Dye S’mores

Tie-dye + s’mores! Does it get any better than this? Whip up a batch of these colorful and gooey marshmallows and dare your customers NOT to plaster photos of them all over social media! They won’t be able to resist! Click here for a tutorial from Studio DIY.

Tie-Dye Chocolate Bars

Create yummy swirls of color on a chocolate bar, then take it a step further by embellishing it with a fun, little moulded chocolate piece—like this ice cream cone—and lots of sprinkles.

Tie-Dye Moulded Chocolates

You don’t even have to like tie-dye to love this colorful bunny! What other moulded chocolates would look great in tie dye? All of them!

Tie-Dye Packaging

What goes best with tie-dye? More tie-dye, of course! Complete your collection of tie-dye confections with equally psychedelic packaging. Contact MOD-PAC for more information about these tie-dye boxes.

Tie-Dye Merchandise

For the truest tie-dye enthusiasts, consider adding branded tie-die merch to your offerings, like these t-shirts from Asher's Chocolates.   

In the world of tie-dye, the possibilities are seemingly endless! These are just a few of our favorite ways for your business to ride the tie-dye trend. Similar techniques could also be applied to chocolate-covered sandwich cookies, pretzelsfudge and more. What confections would you transform with tie dye? Share in the comments below.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Festive Treats for Fourth of July


Here's some fun ideas for the Fourth of July! Transform your favorite sweets into your festive treats by adding a whole lot of red, white and ooooh!

Plum Crazy

Patriotic Pretzels

This sweet and salty treat will be hard to pass up with the addition of colored confectioners coating and sprinkles to resemble the American flag.

Pop Rocks® Popcorn

Offer a package of Pop Rocks® as an add-on to your festive white chocolate coated popcorn (or really add popcorn treat) for a little unexpected fun this Fourth of July. Click here to read our past blog post with more inspiration, plus a helpful tip for working with Pop Rocks® in confections.

Freedom Bark

Swirls of red, white and blue are a beautiful sight and make for a sweetly patriotic treat. Consider adding dried blueberries, cherries, cranberries or coconut for added flavor and texture while staying true to the color scheme.

Fourth of July Tie-Dye Fudge

Transform classic white chocolate fudge into a summer holiday hero! Consider a mash-up of blueberry and strawberry flavors to give it a fresh mixed berry vibe!

This Fourth of July will certainly be one to remember! We hope this offers some inspiration for your holiday celebration.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Master 3-D Moulded Chocolates with this Expert Advice


Impress your customers all year around with 3D moulded chocolates. RCI member, Chef Brian Donaghy with Tomric Systems shares step-by-step instructions for working with both solid and hollow moulds, plus important considerations when it comes to tempering and cooling.

Start with Good Temper

It seems fairly basic, but before we dive into moulding chocolate, I feel compelled to note that proper moulding techniques all start with chocolate in good temper. Good temper leads to appropriate viscosity (90˚F/32˚c or below for 3D moulding), which ultimately leads to better finished pieces, whether that be your three-foot hollow bunny, your solid chocolate Santa pop or the shell to that beautifully decorated artisan-style praline. We are always looking for bubble-free chocolate, of even thickness throughout the moulded piece with the beautiful shine and snap that will delight our customer. How can we get there?

Solid Moulds

Many 3D moulds are designed as an open or closed format. The open format allows the mould to be made hollow or solid, while the closed format only allows for hollow manufacturing. Solid forming is fairly straight forward; clip the two (or more pieces) together, fill with chocolate, (bubble-free is easier to achieve, if you vibrate the mould while filling) and set filled mould in a cool space with air flow—I prefer 50˚F/10˚C for my refrigeration temperature. Leave the mould there until you can see the chocolate pulling away from the inside of the plastic. If the chocolate piece experiences breakage during this time, I will often remove some of the clips and turn the mould onto its base to finish the crystallization process. Once the piece is ready to be unmoulded, I remove it from the cool space and allow it to return to room temperature before I unmould.  Waiting this little bit, helps to prevent sugar bloom or condensation on the piece. If the mould has flash (chocolate on the seam that slipped between the plastic sides), cut it off with a utility knife or sharp paring knife and then use compressed air or a badger-style brush to remove the excess chocolate.

Hollow Moulds

The process for creating hollow moulded chocolates is similar to the solid, but after filling it while vibrating the mould, set the mould aside at room temperature for a couple minutes. Next, pour the chocolate from the mould back into the temperer. Repeat this process until the piece is the appropriate weight or thickness. Create the bottom of the piece, by pouring tempered chocolate onto a lined sheet pan, slightly bigger than the base of the mould. Stand the mould into that pool of chocolate and place the mould and sheet pan in a cool space. Like the solid piece, remove clips early if there is breakage, and bring the piece back to room temperature before unmoulding. The extra chocolate around the base of the mould can be easily removed prior to opening the mould by placing a knife between the mould and the chocolate, it should just break away if the chocolate is finished crystallizing.

Cooling Time 

What amount of time is best to store chocolates in a cool space before removing the mould? This will depend on a few factors; the size of the mould, how much chocolate the mould uses and the actual temperature of the space. Regardless of these variables, remember that no matter the size, amount of chocolate or room temperature, you will get more consistent results if that space has moving air, because moulding chocolate that has been properly tempered requires heat exchange created by airflow.

Follow this expert advice to achieve bubble-free moulded chocolates with a beautiful shine and snap.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Loco for Coconut: Troubleshooting and Ideas for Working with Coconut

In honor of National Coconut Day on June 26, we’re sharing troubleshooting tips for working with coconut as well as inspiration for developing a new, craveable coconut candy that will make your fans go loco for coconut this summer!

Coconut can come in many forms, but for confectioners, desiccated coconut is the most popular. Desiccated is defined as, “preserved by drying,” according to Merriam-Webster. The process of making desiccated coconut involves shredding unsweetened coconut meat that has been dehydrated and sifted to a range of different sizes. 

Shelf Life and Storage
Desiccated coconut is a low-moisture, high-fat product. Approximately 3% moisture content is necessary for desiccated coconut to be shelf stable. If moisture content is 5% or above, dried coconut will mold and spoil rapidly.

Poly bags are an effective barrier against moisture pick up in transit and storage. However, dry storage conditions for desiccated coconut is recommended to maximize shelf life. With a low moisture product, such as this, any candy formulation has to be adjusted for the drying effect of such an ingredient. An alternative to this formula adjustment, of course, the premoistening of the desiccated coconut before addition to the candy batch.

Oil Separation
The fat content of desiccated coconut is probably the most important single attribute. With almost two-thirds of its composition being coconut oil, with a melting point of 76°F/24.4°C, it is a factor to be seriously considered. Cool storage between 65-75°F/18.3-23.8°C is recommended. If stored above 76°F/24.4°C, under considerable stacking, oil separation can occur. This high-fat content also requires gentle handling and short mixing times for coconut candies so as to avoid the separation of coconut oil from the candy due to mechanical pressure.

Solution: Despite the best efforts of candy makers in mixing and handling of coconut pastes, it is still possible to have separation occur during the forming operation. Almost every forming operation requires that a certain amount of pressure be applied to the coconut paste. There are formula modifications that can be made to minimize this fat separation, such as the addition of 0.5%-1% of glyceryl monosterate (GMS) to coconut paste. GMS should be added to coconut paste in liquid form to ensure even distribution throughout the batch. Addition of solid GMS to a cold batch could make the ingredient ineffective.

Soapy Flavor
The high-fat content in desiccated coconut can lead to the development of soapy flavor when spoiled. Coconut fat represented by the triglyceride molecules in the presence of enzymes secreted by microorganisms (molds or yeast) breaks down into mono diglycerides and free fatty acid. Since 48% of the free fatty acid radicals in coconut fat are lauric acid, you quickly get the characteristic soapy flavor that lauric acid imparts.

Solution: The use of hot water or steam blanching desiccated coconut results in extremely low microbiological counts and drastically reduces the chances for this soapy flavor development.

Yellowing
Naturally occurring sugar and protein in coconut are responsible for the number one spoilage factor in this product: yellowing. Non-enzymatic browning, known as the Maillard reaction, gives coconut a yellow appearance is caused by the reaction between the natural sugars, particularly invert sugars and amino acids in the protein in coconut.

Storage
Once a candy maker has received desiccated coconut, it is important to always use the oldest stock first and store in the coolest possible location. At around 40°F/4.4˚C, you get an almost indefinite shelf life of coconut.

Particle Size
The tendency of a cut of desiccated coconut to yellow is almost directly related to its particle size—the larger the particle size, the greater the tendency to yellow. Extra fine or macaroon typically have the best whiteness retention, while slice and chip cuts, being cross sections of the coconut meat, yellow quickly on the inner surface.

Coconut Recipe Ideas:
Now that you’ve brushed up on your coconut knowledge, it’s time to get cooking—in the candy kitchen, that is. Here’s some inspiration for your next great coconut recipe.

  • Toasted Coconut and Caramel Truffles
    Think of the popular Girl Scout cookie, Caramel deLites/Samoas, as inspiration for a caramel and toasted coconut patty, covered in chocolate. Take a look at this recipe for Samoa Truffles from Shugary SweetsFive boxes, please! 

  • Coconut Caramels
    The perfect summer twist to your caramel recipe! This recipe by Taste of Home uses coconut milk, shredded coconut and roasted almonds.

  • Spiced Cashew Coconut Brittle
    Add a little bite to cashew coconut brittle with the addition of black pepper. Check out this recipe from Martha Stewart.

  • Keto Coconut Truffles
    Appeal to the Keto diet craze by developing a recipe that highlights coconut with the simple addition of a natural sweetener, like honey or maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract and salt. There are tons of recipes out there, but you could start by trying this recipe from blogger, Chocolate Covered Katie.

We hope you learned something and enjoy experimenting and perfecting your coconut recipes. Do you have a favorite coconut candy that you will highlight for National Coconut Day? If so, tell us about it in the comments below.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

How to Create a More Efficient Candy Kitchen

Looking to improve the efficiency of your candy kitchen? Rethinking the layout of your kitchen is a great place to start. RCI member Greg Power with Las Olas Confections and Snacks shares tips, plus which areas to focus on for the most impact in this week’s post.

 Visualize

When reviewing your production layout, first, take measurements of your equipment and space. Draw a diagram of your space on paper; create scale cut outs of equipment and other movable items so you can move the items around easily. This will allow you to visualize the best placement of your equipment and help with layout options to maximize production and product flow.

Your production space should be enclosed and it should not open directly to outside areas; this will help with security and reduce exposure to outside elements. Smooth, walls, tile cove base and sealed concrete floors or tile flooring are all preferred for ease of cleaning and washing down. Storage racks should be off the ground and away from the walls (check for local health codes for how far off the ground and how far away from the walls is required). Any non-food contact equipment that can be stored or installed out of the production area is preferred and may open up additional kitchen space if stored elsewhere. Air compressors, boilers, cleaning equipment, etc. should all be stored away from production.

Production

The kitchen production area is the beginning of your entire process; which is why outflow from the kitchen should be smooth and effortless as the product moves to your production lines. If space permits, your kitchen should be separated, but adjacent to your slabbing or table room. This setup is the most efficient process for getting product off of the tables and on your production lines. If your tables are water-jacket cooled and you have a temperature-controlled cooling room available (at least 60˚F/15˚C), this will offer the most efficiency for cooling your products as quickly as possible from batch to production. You want to remove the heat from the product as fast as possible without sweating it.

Flow

From slabbing, product should go straight into enrobing or coating. This area should be as close to the slabbing or cutting area as possible. If you are hand dipping, multiple stations can be set up adjacent to the slabbing area. From enrobing or coating, products should flow straight into cooling tunnels then into the packing area. After packing, product may be stored in a cool, dry place for several days at 65˚ F/18˚C before transport.

Equipment

If space permits, avoid turns and curves within the process. Fewer transitions and handling of product will reduce labor. All equipment should be on legs, stands or wheels off the floor and away from walls; it should be easily accessible from all sides for easy cleaning and maintenance.

Production space should be limited to items needed for a specific run, excess equipment, cooling racks and raw materials. Work-in-process can reduce your ability to run efficiently and cause increased labor inefficiencies. Fine tuning some of these areas could have a surprising impact on the efficiency of your team.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Freeze Chocolate Without Risking Bloom

The mention of freezing chocolate products not too long ago was looked upon by candy makers as taboo. The two main concerns were bloom and loss of flavor.

Today, with new freezing systems and a better understanding of how to freeze products, it has become more common in the industry. Some of the largest manufacturers freeze products to keep up with seasonal demands. Keep reading for pro tips for successfully freezing and thawing chocolate in just a few simple steps, plus maximum storage times for both filled pieces and solid chocolates.

Freezing

1. Prepare the product

  • Shrink wrap or wrap as tight as possible, making the package air tight.
  • If you use stock boxes, it is best to double-shrink wrap them.
  • Don’t have a shrink wrapper? A double layer of plastic wrap will work as well.
2. Maintain a stable freezing and thawing process.

  • Most household or small commercial freezers can consistently maintain temperatures with short thaw cycles, if any.
    • Opening and closing freezers increases humidity in the units, thus the need for defrosting.
  • Larger operations should utilize freezers that have defrosting cycles.
    • Proper freezer drainage and regular maintenance is key to ensuring stability.
    • Evaluate defrosting time regularly. If this process takes too long, the packaging could get wet. If it is too short, the cost of freezing will increase due to the use of power. 

Thawing*

*This may be the most important part of freezing.

1. Remove product from the freezer

  • When removed from the freezer, product should be stored at 60˚ F/ 15˚ C, with limited humidity.

2. Create air movement around the thawing package

  • Smaller operations can remove a stock box from the freezer and place it on a counter with a small fan blowing on the package.
  • Larger operations can put a pallet on a rack with a fan blowing on one end.
  • Do not open the package or remove the wrap until the product temperature rises up to room temperature.
  • When opened at room temperature, the product will look and taste the same as it did before freezing.

For best results, thaw and sell frozen products within the recommended times below.

  • Filled pieces and truffles should be 3-4 months.
  • Solid chocolate pieces should be 6-8 months.

Freezing may not make sense for every company, as it is a major part of planning and operations for the companies that practice this method. You cannot hurry this process, but when executed properly it will increase shelf life by a few months and will not harm your products.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Dad's Favorite Things List: Sweet Gift Ideas for Father's Day

Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate dads in a big way this year! Father’s Day is June 21st and we’re sharing sweet gift ideas that appeal to just about every dad and grandpa out there!

Mr. Fix It

For the dad that likes to tinker and fix things. He may have a toolbox full of tools and gadgets, but does he have a toolkit made completely of chocolate?

Credit: Nothing But Chocolate

The Fisherman

Give Dad a fish story he’ll never forget. How about a life-sized chocolate-moulded fish so sweet his pals will have to believe he’s telling another tall tale! Looking for tips to perfect your moulding techniques? Read this past blog post.

Credit: Munson's Chocolates

The Executive

Give hard-working dads and grandfathers a tie they’ll actually love. Click here to check out a tutorial on how to create shirt-and-tie treat holders as ready-to-give gifts.

Credit: Doodlecraftblog.com

The Foodie

Have some fun with the foodie dad by faking him out with a sweet twist on his favorite foods. The only way to improve on a good, old-fashioned hamburger would be to make it all out of chocolate, of course.

Credit: LindyPopsChocs

The Beer Enthusiast

For the beer-enthusiast dads out there, RCI members like Joy Lyn’s Candies and Hilliard’s Chocolates have found that confections like brittle and caramel really do pair well with beer.

Credit (left to right): Hilliard's Chocolates and Joy Lyn's Candies

The Wine Connoisseur

Since a bottle of wine would be too predictable, why not dip the whole bottle in fine chocolate? Sure, wine is fine, but wine and chocolate is even better!

The Daring Dad

These treats aren’t for the faint of heart, but for the thrill-seekers and daring dads who have ever wondered, “what does a chocolate-covered jalapeno/pickle/cricket taste like?” It can’t be too bad, after all, it is covered in chocolate!

Credit: Wickles Pickles


 Host a “Pin-to-Win Dad’s Sweet Dreams” Contest

If you're looking for an opportunity to increase your exposure on Pinterest, consider hosting a "Pin-to-Win Dad's Sweet Dreams" contest. Start by asking participants to create a Pinterest board full of their dad's favorite treats from your website. Require entrants to include your company name in the description (for brand awareness purposes) and email you the URL to their board or post a link to your Facebook page (Check out this Pinterest contest for ideas of how to communicate the idea to your followers).

Appeal to shoppers by offering gift ideas they can’t get from big box stores. We hope you find at least a couple ideas to apply to your business and are inspired to dream up a few more of your own. We invite you to share your creative Father’s Day gift ideas in the comments below.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.

Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

10 Ways to Make Mother’s Day Sweeter than Ever




With many mothers wearing more hats than usual and grandmas missing visits from their grandchildren, consumers are looking for ways to make Mother’s Day bigger and sweeter than ever in 2020. This week, we’re sharing fun ways for consumers to celebrate and feel connected even when apart.

Limited-Time Offers
Bring back seasonal confections for a limited time and require advance orders. If you typically offer caramel apples during the fall or chocolate-covered strawberries for Valentine’s Day, consider bringing these seasonal favorites back for the week leading up to Mother’s Day.

One-Stop Shop
Since it’s difficult to stop by multiple retailers at this time, think of ways to provide a one-stop shopping experience. Bundle chocolate with gift items and remind consumers if you offer gift wrapping and greeting cards. Partner with other local businesses, like florists and coffee shops, to expand your reach while supporting fellow businesses and ease the strain if you are short staffed.

Treats to Ship
Bundle warm-weather treat for consumers who may need to ship gifts, but don’t want the extra expense required for shipping chocolate in the heat. Check out our blog post for 5 Sweets that Beat the Heat. These treats are good options if your community allows sidewalk sales or food trucks to operate.

Gourmet S’mores Kits
Create gourmet s’mores kits and share tips for outdoor enthusiasts to create memorable camp-in experiences. Check out this past blog post for ideas on how to take your s’mores to the next level. The Washington State Parks Foundation offers programming for viewers to enjoy camping activities from their living rooms and back yards.

Subscription Boxes
Create a sweet subscription box, giving shoppers the option to answer a survey to help select the recipient’s favorite treats. This ensures a steady supply of sweet treats for Mom and reoccurring sales for you.

Take-and-Make Treat Kits
Invite families to make memories together with take-and-make Mother’s Day treat kits. Along with instructions, share a link to your video tutorial for them to follow along.

Ice Cream Sundae Kits
If you sell ice cream, create ice cream sundae kits as a way to upsell pints paired with candy toppings, chocolate and caramel sauces and decorative sprinkles. Make your own “magic” chocolate shell sauce by adding coconut oil to melted chocolate.

Virtual Tasting Kits
Create virtual tasting kits with tasting guides in sets of two. Consider offering add-ons at a discount so the whole family can experience tasting together virtually. Partner with a local liquor shop, winery or coffee maker to pair chocolates with Mom’s favorite beverages.

Customizable Gifts
Give shoppers the opportunity to customize their gifts by offering options to build their own care packages, choose the recipient’s favorite color ribbon or packaging/gift wrap. Use free tools like Canva and Vecteezy to design beautiful custom wraps for chocolate bars or boxed chocolates.

Pin It to Win It
If you aren’t already taking advantage of Pinterest to promote and sell your products, now is the time! Now, more than ever, shoppers are relying on social media for news, inspiration and entertainment. Create Mother’s Day themed boards and post purchasable gift ideas perfect for moms with a sweet tooth. Click here to learn more.

Although many holidays and celebrations look different these days, embrace the opportunity to think creatively and continue to evolve your business. Share in the comments below, creative ways you plan to celebrate moms this year.

Crave more? If you like what you read here, look for the "Subscribe now" box on the right to enter your email address and start receiving weekly tips, like this, delivered straight to your email inbox. RCI's Tip of the Week blog is just one of the many resources we offer to help candy makers refine their craft and build upon their business and marketing practices.