Chef Lauren Gockley is at the forefront of what’s trending in cannabis confections.

As director of edibles for Coda Signature, Denver, Gockley has shared her insights on flavor trends and how the edibles industry is expected to evolve in the “Summer 2020 Seasonal Trend Report.”

Gockley recently spoke to Cannabis Products about the report, the company’s newest launches and how flavor can transport consumers to a different time and place.

CP: Why do you think edibles are gaining in popularity among cannabis consumers?

LG: We’re in a challenging time, and people are opening up to cannabis as a solution to improve their wellness and recreation. Edibles are accessible for new consumers since they are a familiar way of consuming something—we’ve all had a chocolate bar before! 

Chocolate is also inherently comforting and uplifting, as I describe in the trend report. It’s no wonder that chocolate, especially when combined with cannabis, is the ultimate superfood. 

CP: Why are confectionery applications ideal delivery methods for cannabinoids?

LG: Beyond the benefits of being an accessible, familiar format, confections could be considered a safer way to consume. Lung health experts are concerned that other forms of consumption, including smoking and vaping, could put patients at higher risk of severe respiratory symptoms. Edibles do not pose this potential risk to your lungs. 

The effects of cannabis additionally last longer in the system when you consume edibles, which is beneficial for lasting relief from symptoms like anxiety and insomnia. 

CP: What role do whole, natural ingredients play in creating high-quality edibles?

LG: Just as it is in traditional cooking, quality ingredients play a crucial role in creating edibles. You can taste the difference when something was made with natural flavors, and edibles should be held to the same standard that traditional confections are. Our Fruit Notes are made with an all-natural French puree that uses real fruit. We wanted to show that an edible doesn’t have to be full of sugar and artificial flavoring, and a gummy doesn’t have to be a gummy. In fact, we wouldn’t even categorize the Fruit Notes as a gummy. They are their own confection. 

CP: Why are consumers drawn to nostalgic flavors? What about tropical ones?

LG: In a way, flavors are our best form of transportation right now! When we have a confection, we want to be transported. Flavor has a powerful way of bringing you back to a different time and place, something that is definitely needed right now. That’s why each of my flavor pairings are intended to evoke a specific moment in time. 

Nostalgic flavors can connect you with a memory, while tropical flavors can take you to a destination. I often create flavors based on my own personal experiences, and one of my favorite examples is our Coffee & Doughnuts chocolate bar. There is nothing like the smell of a steaming cup of hot coffee right before you dunk a freshly baked cinnamon and sugar dusted doughnut!

CP: How do these flavors pair with cannabis? Or does Coda Signature downplay the cannabis flavor?

LG: One of the most common misconceptions about cooking with cannabis is that the cannabis has to be hidden. I actually love the natural flavor of cannabis and think it pairs well with just about anything. Rather than try to cover up the cannabis flavor in Coda Signature products, we strive to harmonize with it. 

I have the freedom to experiment with flavor pairings that are adventurous and familiar at the same time, from Mango & Chile Lime to Cherry & Sarsaparilla. In one bite you should be able to experience a vivid combination of flavor notes, with hints of cannabis intertwined. 

CP: Why did Coda Signature decide to expand options for medical cannabis patients?

LG: From the beginning we made a conscious decision that we wanted to contribute to the legacy of medicinal cannabis by creating delicious high quality products that patients can accurately consume to their needs. Many medical cannabis patients seek increased amounts of cannabinoids in order to ease their conditions, but don’t have access to quality products with those dosage options. We wanted everyone to be able to enjoy our best-selling flavors at whichever dosage is right for them, so we started by updating our classic chocolate bars.

CP: The overall confectionery industry is very seasonal. Can this apply to confectionery edibles? How?

LG: Absolutely! As the cannabis industry matures, we’re seeing trends from the traditional culinary world make their way into the cannabis culinary world, which includes seasonality. In the report I shared my belief that edibles will become more seasonally driven, with products that echo the colors and flavors of each coming season. It goes beyond just designing a peppermint flavor for the holidays or changing up the packaging. We’ll see complete collections of multiple new releases at a time.

Of course, cannabis faces unique challenges to releasing products in seasonal collections, from  navigating different states’ regulations to packaging considerations. It takes a lot of long-term planning to ensure our releases are timely and compliant. With the launch of the new Fruit Notes, this is the first year we have released multiple new flavors at a time that follow the season. 

CP: Why is Coda Signature relaunching its truffle collection? What can consumers expect?

LG: Even as we find new ways to innovate, we also want to honor our origins in chocolate. Our original Signature Truffle collection was the first product that Coda Signature launched, and it started the legacy of artistry and craftsmanship that our brand is known for. We wanted to celebrate that tradition while continuing to develop new and exciting products. Consumers can expect our Aria Collection to be as delightful and beautiful as the original truffle collection, with a new look and fresh flavors that keep everyone on their toes.

CP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

LG: As I mention in the report, cannabis has such a rich history of craftsmanship and innovation — but most of all, it has a history of community and supporting people in moments of need. We are in one of those moments as we navigate challenging circumstances, and now is the time for cannabis brands to step up with products that bring imaginative experiences and all-natural ingredients to the table. It’s inspiring to see how far the industry has come, and I’m looking forward to this next chapter in cannabis and the essential role it will continue to play in our society and lives.

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