Retro sweets have been proving popular with blasts from the past livening up the category, says Stefan Chomka

One of the key trends recently has been the emergence of retro sweets as consumers search for products from their childhood.
This year alone has seen the rebirth of the Texan bar, Orange Chewits and Fizz Bombs, as well as a growth in popularity of old fashioned-style sweet shops and confectionery brands.
Ian Tidmarsh, buying director at Julian Graves, says that retro has become an important part of its business.
“We are always looking to source new ‘memory lane’ products, particularly those requested by our customers,” he says. “For example, Sherbet Pips, Black Jacks and Fruit Salads are still hugely popular
and we would be keen to sell them under our own label.”
Graham Walker, Nestlé Rowntree sales communications manager, says that the Texan bar tapped into the trend for all things retro and that it was launched in response to high consumer demand. With the re-emergence of music and toys from the 1960s and 70s, Walker says it was inevitable that sweets would soon form part of the revival.
The company is also exploring other avenues following the retro theme.
This Christmas, for example, sees the launch of a limited edition variant of its Quality Street boxed chocolates with a retro design, harking back to the brand’s launch in 1936. The selection will also include four past favourites - gooseberry cream, chocolate octagon, coffee cream and toffee deluxe - to give consumers a taste of the ‘old times’.
Nestlé Rowntree is also taking a retro route for Easter 2006 by reviving eggs with mugs, a once popular Easter egg trend
which fell out of favour in the 1990s. New mug and egg combos will include Aero Latte, KitKat Keeper - a mug with a space to hold a two-finger KitKat countline - and Smarties Colour Changer with a mug that changes colour when filled with a hot drink.
However, the company is not going too far down the retro route as bringing back old lines does not come without its complexities, says Walker.
Nestlé does not tend to store old equipment, he says, so it has to think of investment issues when considering bringing back old lines. Some products, such as its Secret chocolate and marshmallow nest bar, for example, require specific kit no longer available, and would be too complex to bring back even though it could be a hit this time round.
And as for any more retro lines, the company is playing it safe. Texan has only been launched as a limited edition to gauge public interest, and any more revivals will be treated with caution. “In the future we will just watch the retro movement and see what happens,” says Walker. “If it flies we will look at bringing back other products.”
Tidmarsh, for one, believes that, for next year at least, retro will still be high on the radar. He says Julian Graves intends a real push on retro sweets, including the introduction of new lines and rebranding the company’s own-label range.
“We don’t believe the demand for retro sweets will disappear any time soon. Our intention is to introduce them to a younger audience, so that in years to come they will remember eating them when they are older, so the cycle continues. For us, retro sweets is, and will continue to be, an important market sector.”
However, Jonathan Summerley, buyer at confectionery specialist Hancocks, says that companies should not get too carried away with the whole retro theme.”It’s growing at the moment, but I think we will see it plateau at some point. I don’t want to see overkill of retro products in the confectionery market.”