Year after year, candy has been one of the most popular categories on Faire. In 2022, Faire retailers purchased over 75,000 candy products globally, and the word “candy” has landed in the top 20 search terms on Faire every month for the past year.* Though sweets are at the front of buyers’ minds year-round, August, October, and January have historically seen the highest volume for candy-related search terms.
Ahead of several candy-centric holidays, from Halloween and Christmas to Valentine’s Day, we decided to dig in deeper to take a closer look at the products and trends propelling the sugar rush. In our first-ever candy report, we take a look at the most popular sweets on Faire, unwrap current candy trends, and share insights from candy experts.
Ask a brand: When do you start putting out seasonal candy?
Keith Cohn, founder and CEO of Candy Club, says he aims to start offering seasonal candies around three months ahead of a specific holiday, allowing retailers two to three months to showcase the candy on their shelves.
Independent retail’s favorite confections
We started by rounding up retailer’s favorite seasonal treats. Some of the most popular candies for upcoming holidays include a Crème Brûlée Crackle Truffle Bar from Seattle Chocolate, Bourbon Pecan Pie Chocolate from Hammond’s Candies, Pumpkin Spice Chai Truffle Bar from Seattle Chocolate, and gummy holiday trees and sour spiders from Candy Club.
Gummies and hard candy
According to a recent study by the National Confectioners Association, the non-chocolate candy category—which includes gummies, chew candy, hard candy, licorice, lollipops, and marshmallows—is rapidly growing, accounting for 32% of all confectionary sales in the US in 2022. Sales of non-chocolate candy increased by almost 15% between 2021 and 2022.
On Faire, Gummies & Chewy Candies and Hard Candies have been the top two confection categories in the past year. In addition, the top two candy products globally in the past year on Faire have both been from the Gummies & Chewy Candies category. Popular brands in both of the top categories include Candy Club, Sugarfina, Rodgers jam berries, and Candy Barn Express.
We explored what products topped the charts in these two popular categories in the past year on Faire.
Popular Gummies & Chewy Candies
- Rainbow sour belt candies
- Cupcake bites
- Sour cherry cola bottles
- Gummy dinos
- Sour gummy lemonade rings
Popular Hard Candies:
- Freeze-dried skittles
- Fruity chewy laces
- Rock candy on a stick
- Lemon drops
- Strawberry licorice
Continuing to expand beyond traditional chocolates, Faire shoppers also favored chocolate-covered sweets in the past year, like those from Date Better Snacks, Genesee Candy Land, and CB Stuffer. In fact, the chocolate-covered sweets category on Faire grew about 360% in the past year, making it the candy category with the highest year-over-year growth. Favorites in the category include chocolate-covered dates, malt balls, bacon, cookie dough, and raisins.
While confections like sour candies, fruity chews, and savory snacks dipped in a chocolate coating are growing in popularity, traditional chocolates still have a firm place in shoppers’ hearts. Chocolate maintained its ranking as the top-selling candy in the global confectionery market in 2022, accounting for 46% of total market revenue.
On Faire, chocolate bars remained within the top five candy categories in the past year, and several conventional chocolate bars from brands like Mayana Chocolate, Hammond’s Candies, and Seattle Chocolate landed among the top 10 most popular candy products on Faire in the past year.
Popular chocolate bars on Faire:
- Cream & sugar coffee chocolate bar
- Lavender vanilla chocolate bar
- “Kitchen sink” chocolate bar (caramel, peanut butter, pretzel, and dark chocolate)
- S’mores truffle bar (milk chocolate with graham cracker biscotti and white chocolate chips)
- Birthday cake chocolate bar (tastes like yellow cake, vanilla frosting, and confetti candy)
Peanut butter craze
In the past year, Faire retailers have set their sights on all things peanut butter. Two of the top 10 most popular candy products in the past year were peanut butter flavored.
The flavor spans all candy categories, from traditional peanut butter cups and peanut butter chocolate fudge to peanut butter–covered dates.
Favorite peanut butter candy on Faire includes:
- Traditional milk chocolate peanut butter cups
- S’mores peanut butter cup chocolate bars
- Peanut butter–filled hard candies
- Dark caramel sea salt peanut butter cups
- Cookies ’n’ cream peanut butter cups
Sweet treats across the US
Though candy lovers reside all around the world, the US in particular is home to a substantial population of sweet-treat fanatics. In fact, North America makes up the largest confectionery market in the world, accounting for almost 38% of revenue share in 2022.
To get a better sense of which flavors US residents are favoring, we dove into the top candy products in each region of the country.
The west coast of the US favored Himalayan pink salt toffee, the midwest opted for peanut butter chocolate fudge, bourbon pecan pie chocolate bars were popular in the south, and the northeast preferred gummy butterflies.
What’s trending: Freeze-dried candy and “better for you” sweets
The appeal of candy may be timeless, but that doesn’t mean the confectionary industry has stopped creating new innovations and leveraging trends. To give retailers a sense of the latest consumer trends, we examined two of the biggest trends in the world of sweets in the past year—healthy treats and freeze-dried candy.
“Better for you” candy
As health continues to be top-of-mind for consumers around the world, “better for you” candy—or candy that’s all-natural and low in sugar—is becoming increasingly popular. According to a recent study, 47% of American consumers are seeking out healthy candy options in an effort to lower sugar intake.
Faire retailers are taking note. Of the top 20 candy brands on Faire in the past year, 12 of them offer candy that’s either sugar-free, organic, contains no preservatives, or contains no artificial sweeteners. In addition, low-sugar sweets with no artificial sweeteners have landed among the top 20 most popular products on Faire for every month in 2023 except for one.
Popular “better for you” candy on Faire includes chocolate- and peanut butter–covered dates from Date Better Snacks, low-sugar gummy bears from BEHAVE, and oat milk chocolate peanut butter cups from Whims Delights.
Like many food trends of the past year, from tinned fish to sober curious, the latest craze in candy is rising to fame on TikTok. Freeze-drying food originated as a way to preserve and store food without refrigeration in the early 1900s. Today, freeze-drying is being used to put a new spin on nostalgic candy classics. Declared the “candy of the future,” freeze-dried sweets have stolen the spotlight on TikTok, with videos with the hashtag #freezedriedcandy amassing almost 55 million views to date.
The attention on social media has helped propel Rodgers jam berries, a freeze-dried candy company operating out of Arizona, to success. “I always joke that TikTok does all our advertising,” says Krystel Rodgers, founder of Rodgers jam berries. “People see it on TikTok and want to know where to get it. I think they like it because it’s totally different and new.”
Addie Clarke, the content creator known as the “candy salad queen” on TikTok, also first noticed freeze-dried candy become more prevalent on social media. “I would see influencers trying freeze-dried candy for the first time, and it always looked so satisfying,” Clarke says. “I think it’s so popular because people love the crunchiness of the candies, and how the candy is so much bigger in size when freeze-dried.”
On Faire, searches for “freeze-dried candy” grew about 1,600% between July 2022 and July 2023, and they continue to rise. Beginning in April of 2023, freeze-dried candy products have landed among the top 10 products in the confections category on Faire for five months straight. In July, freeze-dried candy made up 70% of the top 10 Confections products list.
Rodgers, who began dabbling in freeze-drying candy three years ago, doesn’t see the trend dying down any time soon. “It’s a trendy thing, but I don’t think it will fade away,” she says. “We’ve been doing this for three years, and it still feels like it’s just now starting to get popular. When we first started, 80% of people had no idea what I was talking about.”
Recipes for your sweet tooth
Addie Clarke has accumulated millions of views and likes on her candy-centric TikTok page.
“I think people love candy because we’re attracted to the vibrancy of it,” Clarke says. “Most candies are very bright, which makes it appealing.”
Clarke is known for creating “candy salads” on TikTok, like her watermelon candy salad featuring watermelon-flavored gummies and her 4th of July candy salad featuring all red, white, and blue candies.
“Everybody loves candy salad,” Clarke says. “There are so many different ways to create a candy salad—the options are endless, and it allows you to take full control of your creativity.”
Clarke created two unique candy salad recipes made with candy from popular brands—a freeze-dried candy salad and a spooky candy salad for Halloween. (Tip: Open the below image in a new window to enlarge recipes and save).
*In this report, “past year” refers to period between August 1, 2022 and July 31, 2023