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The United States confectionery industry was worth over $22 billion in 2020. Over 2/3’s of those sales came from chocolate candy brands.
Data shows that Covid-19 affected candy brands in widely different ways.
Many brands that could typically count on a particularly large boost in sales during Halloween experienced an overall decrease in revenue. The majority of brands of gum, mints, and gift box chocolates also suffered.
Meanwhile, many candy brands that were already commonly distributed through e-commerce channels saw explosive growth during the year.
Overall, the United States candy industry grew at a rate of 2.3% over the previous year. Although this may seem like a small percentage compared with many other industries, it actually represents a fairly unusual year for the confectionary market.
Total sales between 2018 and 2019, for example, was only a meager 0.8%.
To provide a deeper dive into the current U.S candy industry, this article will look at the current top ten brands by annual sales.
We’ll briefly cover each brand’s history and then examine their product lines and place in the market.
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Largest Candy Brands in the United States by Revenue
2020 Annual sales: $712 million
MM’s is an iconic brand of multi-colored, button-shaped chocolate candies. Each consists of a soft chocolate core, surrounded by a layer of harder chocolate on which is inscribed a lowercase “m.”
The outer shell helps MM candies retain their shape even in warm weather, leading to the long-running slogan “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
The brand originally began in the United States in 1941 and was sold exclusively to the U.S military during World War ll.
To cope with high levels of demand during the war, the MM Company moved to a larger production facility in Newark, New Jersey.
As of 2021, approximately half of all MMs are still produced at the Newark location.
MMs come in a variety of flavor categories, including fruit, dessert, and nuts.
A large part of the brand’s marketing strategy is its cast of colorful, computer-animated MM characters that feature in numerous comical commercials.
The MM brand can also be found in many joint marketing campaigns with other notable brands such as Nascar and Star Wars.
2020 Annual sales: $412 million
Reeses’s Peanut Butter Cups is a popular American candy consisting of a peanut butter-filled chocolate cup.
The brand was invented in 1923 and operated independently under the H.B Reese Candy Company until 1963 when it was acquired by the Hershey Chocolate Corporation.
Since 1969, Reese’s has been the company’s best-selling chocolate brand.
Reese’s includes the United States’ single best-selling confectionery item in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups King Size.
Reese’s products also make up 47% of all seasonal candy sales in the country. The next top-selling brand only accounts for 10% of these sales.
The brand’s current slogan is “Not Sorry, Reese’s.”
2020 Annual sales: $394 million
Hershey Bar is the most popular brand of chocolate bar in the United States and the flagship product of The Hershey Company.
The company refers to the product as “The Great American Chocolate Bar.”
Hershey’s Candy Bars come in a variety of forms and flavors, including milk chocolate, milk chocolate with almonds, and Cookies ‘n’ Creme.
Hershey’s products are created using the patented Hershey Process. Although its specific steps are a trade secret, experts speculate that milk lyophilization plays a major part.
This may be the cause of the iconic tangy taste of Hershey Bars, which Canadians and Americans strongly associate with.
2020 Annual sales: $381 million
Snickers is a chocolate bar brand sold by Mars, Incorporated. It consists of a chocolate-layered piece of nougat topped with peanuts and caramel.
Mars, Incorporated invented the brand in 1930, naming it after the Mars family’s favorite horse.
The chocolate bar was sold under the name “Marathon” in Ireland and the United Kingdom until the early 90s, when Mars, Incorporated changed the name to Snickers to align it with the global brand.
In the United Kingdom, Snickers candies are also marketed as energy bars.
A new campaign was introduced in 2020 to market Snickers bars called “Confused? Maybe You Just Need A Snickers.”
Snickers is also a major sponsor of both Nascar and WrestleMania.
2020 Annual sales: $345 million
Kit Kat is a brand of chocolate-layered wafer candies produced by the Nestle Corporation internationally and by the H.B. Reese Candy Company in the United States.
Each standard Kit Kat bar consists of three layers of wafers, covered and separated by layers of chocolate.
Each package includes two to four bars fused together.
There are many varieties and flavors of Kit Kat products sold, including dark, milk, and white chocolate.
In the United States, the brand’s slogan since 1986 has been “Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar!”
Kit Kat regularly introduces new flavors and varieties of the standard bar. In 2020, for example, the brand released the Raspberry Creme and Lemon Crisp flavors.
A dairy-free, vegan Kit Kat product is also expected for release sometime in late 2021 under the name KitKat V.
2020 Annual sales: $297 million
Twix is a chocolate brand owned by Mars, Inc. Each standard bar consists of a piece of shortbread filled with caramel and covered by a thin layer of chocolate.
Nearly all Twix bars sold in the United States are produced in a Mars manufacturing facility located in Cleveland, Tennessee.
The product comes in a variety of permanent and seasonal flavors, such as Cookies-n-Creme, Tea Breaks, and Miniatures.
Twix Bars have been featured in a variety of popular television shows, including Seinfeld and The Orange Is the New Black.
Twix Bars originated in 1967 in an English town named Slough and did not reach United States store shelves until 1979.
Mars, Incorporated added peanut butter to the recipe to better suit American consumer tastes.
One of the Twix brand’s most popular recent marketing campaigns was the “Right Twix vs. Left Twix” concept, asking fans if they preferred the right or left bar in any Twix package.
This caused customers to take sides and argue on social media, raising awareness for the brand.
2020 Annual sales: $264 million
Twizzlers is the first candy brand on this list that doesn’t use chocolate. The confectionary is produced in Lancaster, Virginia, by YS Candies, Inc.
The standard Twizzlers product consists of two strands twisted around one another, each made out of wheat flour, corn syrup, cornstarch, and sugar.
Twizzlers are marketed as a “licorice-type” candy, as they don’t actually contain extract from the licorice plant.
Strawberry is the most popular flavor of Twizzlers, accounting for approximately 70% of the brand’s total sales.
Some of their other flavors include watermelon, cherry, and grape.
Twizzlers also come in a variety of non-standard shapes and varieties. These include Pull ‘n’ Peel, Twerpz, and Straws.
The official Twizzlers slogan is “The Twist You Can’t Resist.”
2020 Annual sales: $261 million
Skittles is a popular brand of fruit-flavored confectioners. The standard product consists of different colored hard sugar shells inscribed with the letter “S.”
In addition to citric acid and fruit juice, Skittles are also made out of corn syrup, sugar, and hydrogenated palm kernel oil.
They come in a variety of flavor categories, such as sour, tropical, and dessert.
Skittles were invented by a British company in 1974. They were later introduced in the United States in 1979 and began domestic production in 1982.
The brand’s official slogan is “Taste the Rainbow,” which is also the name of its main marketing campaign.
Skittles has commonly employed avant-garde viral advertising methods to promote its products.
In 2018, a Superbowl commercial was shown to only one person.
In 2019, a broadway commercial was performed, The Town Hall in NYC.
In 2020, they changed the color of all skittles candies to gray to draw attention to pride parades.
2020 Annual sales: $192 million
Dove, also known as Galaxy in the United Kingdom, India, and the Middle East, is a brand of chocolate produced by Mars.
The brand was established in 1956 by Leo Stafenos as an extension of his chain of candy and ice cream shops, “Dove Candies Ice Cream.”
Dove products were distributed solely within Chicago until 1985 when they were made available in other select cities across the United States.
The Dove brand was eventually acquired by Mars, Incorporated in 1986 and began sales around the world.
In addition to candy bars, the Dove brand also includes various chocolate products such as cakes, ice creams, and milk.
An iconic feature of Dove chocolates is the messages that are written on the inside of each wrapper.
The official tagline of the Dove brand is “Silky Smooth.”
2020 Annual sales: $187 million
3 Musketeers is a brand of chocolate bars owned and produced by Mars, Incorporated.
The standard 3 Musketeers bar consists of a chocolate-covered piece of a whipped, fluffy mouse.
3 Musketeers comes in a variety of flavors, including birthday cake, orange, and mint.
The brand’s current main marketing campaign seeks to highlight the low calories and health benefits of their products.
Most commercials feature women and include common taglines such as “45% less than other chocolate bars” and “Nice, Light Snack.”
The 3 Musketeers brand had also stated the importance of establishing relevancy and recognition among Generation Z.
This has led to many marketing campaigns focused on using Youtube and Tiktok as platforms, featuring popular digital media influencers and personalities.
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