What is confectionary?
Confectionary is a broad category, ranging from penny sweets all the way to fine chocolates. Whilst innovation and new product development is important throughout this spectrum, flavour specifications are often dictated by the type of confectionary. For example, the fine chocolate industry sets out that “If the bar is flavored, it should be done so with natural spices, herbs or fruit extracts”. Therefore, flavour manufacturers like Quest need to have a range of natural flavours available to fit this criteria.
Which flavours are possible?
In short, pretty much any flavour is possible. Most of the sweets that you can buy in a typical pick ‘n’ mix selection have come through a combination of experimentation and expert insight. These include pear drops, cola cubes, cola bottles, fruit salads, black jacks, mint-humbugs, refreshers and bon bons.
Which flavours are most popular?
Aside from the retro and exotic, here are a few of the staple flavours that confectionary companies look for:
Peppermint vs Spearmint vs Menthol
These three flavours are inextricably linked. Natural peppermint flavour is derived from the mentha piperita plant, which is a hybrid of spearmint and water mint, and has 40% menthol content. Spearmint also contains menthol however, in contrast to peppermint, the menthol content is just 0.5%. In terms of taste, peppermint has a spicier taste compared to the more delicate flavour of spearmint.
This flavour difference is unsurprising. Menthol provides a tingly, cooling sensation that lingers on the tongue after consumption and it is this that brings out the crisp taste that we associate with peppermint. Peppermint sticks are a holiday favourite and peppermint in general pops against rich bases, with peppermint flavoured hot chocolate also being extremely popular.
Spearmint is most famously used for chewing gum, offering a more subtle freshness.
Lemon & lime
Citrus flavours have long been popular for sweets, balancing out the sugary taste. A notable innovation in this sub-category was the advent of sour lemon sweets, a hit amongst schoolchildren everywhere and evidence of how creative flavour development can yield rewards.
Love it or hate it, liquorice is still one of the most popular flavours for sweets. Liquorice flavour is made from the Glycyrrhiza glabra root which is found in the Middle East, Asia and parts of Southern Europe.
An article about confectionary would not be complete without mention of cola bottles and their derivative, fizzy cola bottles.
As well as cola nut, the cola flavour typically contains extracts of ingredients such as vanilla and cinnamon. The differentiating ingredient in fizzy cola bottle flavouring is usually a hint of citric acid.
Quest has over 5,500 flavours available to its customers and also offers bespoke creations. See here for access to the full range.