Highlights from the 2012 Sweets and Snacks Expo

[Photographs: Daniel Zemans]

Every May, something beautiful happens in Chicago. Candy manufacturers and distributors from across the country and around the world gather at McCormick Place for the Sweet and Snacks Expo. It's difficult to overstate the sheer scope of the show, which was the biggest one in its 16-year history. Nearly three acres, or roughly three football fields, are covered with booths from more than 550 companies, ranging from startups looking to make their very first sales to industry leaders looking to expand market share.

While the expo covers all sorts of savory snacks, I spent my time pretty much singularly focused on gathering as many different candies as I could, with a special emphasis on products I hadn't seen before. It took a few days to sample a disturbing amount of candy, but I've identified my favorite discoveries at the expo. Click through the slideshow to see some treats that should be coming soon to a store near you.