Inside The Cavity-Inducing Creation Of HPG’s First Candy Product
In the year leading up to the soft launch of SugarSpot, the new candy brand by HPG under its Batch & Bodega line, there were some days that were just better to be in the company’s Northern California office than others. Those were the taste-testing days.
When HPG (PPAI 110772, S11) decided it was going to venture into candy as a promotional product, quality mattered, and that meant sourcing from the best. You’ll get a lot of different answers when you’re asking about the best possible candy makers, and the only way to know for sure is to try it for yourself.
“Every so often, when we would all be in the office, we’d be like,‘OK, it’s candy sampling day,’” says Campbell Davis, Brand Manager for SugarSpot and all things food at HPG.“We would open up all of the samples that we would have available, and just tell the 10 or 15 people who were in the office, like, ‘OK, try this.’”
It wasn’t just a product team that got in on the action;a photographer, a vice president of marketing, a creative director. “We used their taste buds to help us make some of those decisions,” Davis says.
That process helped the team narrow down 23 varied and mouth-watering flavors, from Champagne Gummy Drops to Mom’s Sugar Cookie Bites and Summer Watermelon Wedges. The branding of the candies lies in the packaging; company logos are placed on jars of candies packaged in HPG’s Minnesota facilities, and SugarSpot will complete orders as small as 25. That way, when sourcing their candy, the candy makers can focus on what they do best: sending over something delicious.
Different flavors of candies come from different sources, and some are small-batch providers or mom-and-pops. The people who make SugarSpot’s Almond Apple Pie Bites have been refining that product for 40 years. Some of the companies they source from have been in the candy business for a century.
Batch & Bodega is HPG’s initial foray into food, launching in 2020. According to Davis, the idea of SugarSpot was conceived almost immediately upon the launch of Batch & Bodega. “So, we've been working on this project behind the scenes for 18 months,” Davis says.
SugarSpot will be available for companies looking for tasty branding this Summer, but the soft launch at The 2022 PPAI Expo in January was a big hit. Unsure of what the attendance might be, Davis says the team brought more candy than they thought they would need, but that they were “absolutely mobbed by the end of the second day.”
It was a prime example of why the product isn’t particularly difficult to market. If a product tastes good, then sampling is the most effective advertising you can come up with. With SugarSpot’s sampling policy, customers give them a shipping number and receive five taster packets for free. They can simply request more after that, if they need a second opinion, or a second taste. It’s a similar policy as to what HPG might do for, say, pens, except they likely get a few more second and third requests to try out SugarSpot.
“People love candy,” Davis says.
It took nearly two years of the not-so-grueling process of taste-tasting to determine where to source candy from, and now SugarSpot is ready to provide whatever clients need. “The great thing about candy is it literally works for any industry, for any application, from a trade show to a super special gift basket,” Davis says. “You can use it to say ‘thank you’ or to say ‘hello.’”
Davis points out that quality is still a reflection of a brand. No customer wants their name on something that someone is going to politely spit into a napkin 30 seconds later. SugarSpot was HPG’s effort to strike the balance of creative flavors and excellent quality. Did it accomplish the goal? Davis couldn’t help herself in her affirmative.
“I think we hit that sweet spot.”