A box of large Snickers candy bars is on display at a Costco store April 4, 2008 in Tucson, Arizona.
A box of large Snickers candy bars is on display at a Costco store April 4, 2008 in Tucson, Arizona. - 

Prepare for a new king on the candy throne: Snickers will surpass M&M’s to become the number one candy brand in the world sometime this year, according to a new report from Euromonitor International.

A strong showing in Eastern Europe is a key part of Snickers’ global growth, and Russian sales have more than doubled in just five years.

“Chocolate is sweet and peanuts are not sweet," said Olga Chalykh, as she manned the front desk of Moscow’s Chocolate Hostel. "I like the taste."

That mix of sweet and salty is old news in America, where Snickers debuted in 1930. But it’s quite novel elsewhere.

“It’s certainly a new flavor, a different flavor proposition for much of the rest of the world,” says Euromonitor global head of food research Lee Linthicum. “It’s one that’s actually gaining traction in many markets.”

Peanuts are also a key part of a marketing pitch that touts an energy boost.

“It’s almost like a de facto energy bar, like a PowerBar,” Linthicum adds. “It’s not! It’s a candy bar, but the peanut element is important.”

That pitch has kept Snickers going strong back home in America. To stay on top around the world, though, Snickers will need to expand in China.

“The Chinese don’t have a history with chocolate, but they certainly have an appetite for all things Western,” says Bernard Pacyniak, editor-in-chief of the trade journal Candy Industry.

He points out that India matters too -- but chocolate is tricky there because India’s climate can melt it into a gooey mess.

Follow Mark Garrison at @GarrisonMark