WHAT'S NEW

It's ingenuity and creativity at work!. The semiannual American Wholesale Marketers Association convention features some of the most interesting -- and ridiculous -- new product entries you can possible imagine.By far the most worthwhile product introduced at the show in February in New Orleans was the Incredible Soda Machine from Reon based in San Diego. This is a screw-on dispenser top you simply

It's ingenuity and creativity at work!. The semiannual American Wholesale Marketers Association convention features some of the most interesting -- and ridiculous -- new product entries you can possible imagine.

By far the most worthwhile product introduced at the show in February in New Orleans was the Incredible Soda Machine from Reon based in San Diego. This is a screw-on dispenser top you simply push to dispense the soda. This works with any carbonated beverage and screws onto any threaded bottle (with the straw length cut for 2-liter bottles). The machine is not a pump, and the soda's own carbonation makes it work. It will dispense the soda down to the very last, and helps keep the soda fizzy, rather than letting it escape every time you would normally remove the top to pour. Sour Blast, "the first, tangiest, sourest, blastiest drink made just for kids," is new from Daily Juice Products, Verona, Pa. In 10 oz. plastic in orange, grape, cherry and green apple flavors, these will have you puckering up, offering the same results as some of the already-popular sour candies.

Pizza-To -- Blow from Uniconfis Corp., Atlanta, is small pizza-shaped bank/dispenser bubble gum complete with topping, done in a small hinged box -- more than enough for four mouthfuls. It has a Tutti Frutti flavor. The company also offers a 3 1/2-in. floppy disc container of bubble gum, called X-Gum Ublo Defense in psychedelic colors.

Bubble Brain lets you "chew your brains out," with a plastic brain-shaped bank/dispenser full of "smart gum." A plastic Power Prism is full of candy and the container, in the shape of a small kaleidoscope, can be reused after emptying. Pickle Puss pickle-flavored bubble gum in a plastic representation of a pickle, and Bubble Tongue in a plastic-shaped tongue round out the new items this year from Creative Confection Concepts, Milwaukee.

Using an audio cassette-sized dispenser in a sleeve designed like a video cassette, B.T., The Bubblin' Terrestrial bubble gum is Ft. Worth-based Zeebs Enterprises' entry this year. This comes complete with the story of a little outcast from the stars.

BerZerk Candy Works, Memphis, meanwhile, uses a plastic beeper-type container, complete with buttons and messages like "Awesome", "Later Dude" and "Get Real" as its new offering this year. Called Candypager and full of candy bits, this joins the popular CandyCaller and CandyKeyboard in the Werking Candy product line.

Roller Pop Candy from Topps Co., Duryea, Pa., is like a miniature paint roller and tray. This is "Candy N' Powder that paints your mouth. It comes in various flavors like Cherry, Strawberry, Lemon Lime and Grape. The roller is a pop that you lick, then roll in the flavored powder that you have emptied into the pan.

Robert McMath is a new-product consultant and director of the New Products Showcase & Learning Center in Ithaca, N.Y.