Spotted on Shelves is back for more at the 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show (FFS) in New York City. I scoped out new products from familiar brands and interesting things from up-and-coming companies.

I, and everyone else present, ate many free samples. So many samples. This did not affect what was chosen to appear in this column or my opinions of the products.

Depending on where you live, you might have only just shed your winter coat or spring rain boots, but inside the Fancy Food Show, holiday merchandise is in full swing! In fact, it’s almost over – they’re talking Valentine’s Day. Well, I’ve been to the future, and brought some photos back…and a couple of samples.

Chuao Exploding Coal Chocolate Bar

Xmas chuaocoal

Well, I didn’t think it was possible to make a coal-related novelty Christmas stocking stuffer that wasn’t groan-inducing, but Chuao has done it! Exploding Coal is made with popping candy (fun!) and black cacao – aka black onyx cocoa powder. I am obsessed and bake with it all the time – it’s ultra-deep chocolate flavor without the bitterness of traditional dark chocolate. I haven’t seen black cocoa in a chocolate bar before, so it’s exciting. But it is still a dark-chocolate-based bar, so there is that familiar dark bitterness, but the black cacao cuts it a bit. Overall, a really tasty bar. It might say it’s for naughty folk, but I would only give this to people I truly like.

Available starting October 2019 at Amazon, big box retailers and supermarkets nationwide.

Tate’s Bake Shop Hot Chocolate Cookies and Toasted Almond Cookies

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Xmas tates2

I’m not sure Tate’s can make a cookie I don’t love. They won me over this summer on coconut, even! Its upcoming holiday flavors were on display at FFS, and I’m ready for them. The Hot Chocolate variety reminded me a lot of this summer’s S’mores cookies, without the graham cracker element. They’re a light cocoa with white chocolate chips and a strong caramel flavor.
The Toasted Almond cookies had a strong but not overwhelming or artificial almond flavor. They had a very “Cookies Grandma Made That We Didn’t Really Appreciate Until Adulthood Because As Kids We Just Wanted Sprinkles” vibe.

Available starting in October 2019 online, in mass supermarket chains, big box retailers and specialty food stores

B. Nutty Cinnamon Sugar Cookie, Peppermint Brownie, and Joyful Cranberry Dark Chocolate Gourmet Peanut Butters

Xmas Bnutty

I’m not a peanut butter fanatic per se, but I can put a real dent in a jar of B. Nutty’s peanut butters (shout out to Blissful Blueberry and Irresistable Pretzel!), so I was happy to see them at FFS with some new holiday flavors. I tried the Cinnamon Sugar Cookie, which was a sweet, cinnamon-y peanut treat and the Joyful Cranberry with Dark Chocolate, which was pretty low-key but delicious.

Available now online and on QVC, coming to Amazon late October, retail outlets November/December 2019

Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle Gingerbread

Xmas browniebrittle

Brownie Brittle has a new seasonal flavor hitting shelves soon as well – Gingerbread with white chocolate chips. Sadly, there weren’t samples on hand of this flavor, but I’m looking forward to trying it when it pops up in stores.

Available starting in September/October 2019 in supermarkets nationwide.

Crafty Cooking Kits Hanukkah Sugar Cookie House, Cabin in the Woods Gingerbread Kit

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Xmas craftyKits2

Just because someone doesn’t celebrate Christmas doesn’t mean we should rob them of the chance to buy a holiday house kit with all good intentions, then eat the cookie walls at midnight on a random night in November in a fit of hunger, right? That’s where the Hanukkah Sugar Cookie House comes in handy. And, as a horror fan, my brain lit up with decorating possibilities when I saw the Cabin in the Woods Gingerbread Kit. It’s about time that movie got a Christmas baking kit.

Available starting September/October 2019 in supermarket chains and discount retailers.

Pop Art Gingerbread Caramel Gourmet Popcorn

Xmas popart1

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Finding Gingerbread Caramel Popcorn at FFS made me think, “Why haven’t I seen THIS before?” The elements all make sense together, but it hasn’t been a regular holiday product…until NOW! Pop Art’s Gingerbread Caramel Popcorn was delicious and well-coated, but not too sticky. The packaging artwork was super-fun, too.

Available now online, starting in October 2019 in select regional grocery chains on the West Coast and Utah.

Pelican Bay Elf Snot Sour Apple Liquid Candy

Xmas elfsnot

Chances are, there’s a kid in your family that would LOVE to eat sugar “snot” out of a test tube this Christmas. Or maybe YOU would love to eat sugar “snot” and have a child in your life you can use as an excuse to buy TWO tubes and keep one. Either way, you need Elf Snot. I didn’t get to sample this Sour Apple-flavored liquid candy, but when I see it out in the wild, bet all my friends’ kids are getting some.

Available starting September 2019 in specialty and discount retailers and select supermarket chains nationwide.

Skinny Syrups Winter Trio and Cozy Coffee Collection

Xmas skinnysyrups

If you’re trying to escape the holidays without busting out of your pants, Skinny Syrups can help. They’re dropping some new zero-calorie coffee syrups (which I use in everything but coffee) in festive flavors like White Chocolate Mocha, Salted Caramel Swirl, Cinnamon Vanilla, S’mores, and Cinnamon Dolce.

Available starting July/August 2019 in discount retailers and specialty stores nationwide.

Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread Gingerbread Men and Mini Gingerbread Men Shortbread Biscuits

Xmas walkers

When I saw these gingerbread-flavored shortbread cookies in the Walkers booth at FFS, I didn’t think much of them. They were cute and I figured people who love shortbread would like them. Then I tasted the sample and OH MY GAWD. So buttery and rich. Ginger is present, but I’m not sure I’d identify them as gingerbread (or shortbread) without seeing the name first. It’s much more about the molasses. I will be eating more of these this holiday season. They’re dangerously addictive.

Available starting November 2019 in mass grocery chain, big box retailers and specialty retailers.


  1. I’d love to see Gingerbread Oreos return this year, and Gingerbread Flipz too. And if Pringles wants to re-release their holiday flavors this year, that would be fine as well.

  2. Looking forward to the Chuao bar, I love the firecracker one. If you’ve had it, how does the onyx compare to their 60% dark?

    I’ve been giving gingerbread caramel corn to family and neighbors for years, I hope they aren’t behind this!

    1. I have had their firecracker bar, but it was a year or more ago (and the mini-bar size). If memory serves, I believe the popping candy in Exploding Coal is stronger, and the chocolate is mellower. I just shared the Exploding Coal bar with some co-workers and everyone really liked it.

  3. I’ve always thought the Walkers Gingerbread cookies were just gingerbread men shaped cookies. You are saying they actually have ginger in them? Regular shortbread has only flour, butter and sugar…period.

  4. That is exactly what I’m saying – they have the texture & crumb of shortbread, but have ginger, golden syrup and treacle in them (which reads to Americans as molasses). I thought when I saw them they were just gingerbread-man-shaped shortbread cookies, but they are ginger-short-bread.

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