Sugar Sweet

Allergy season is already upon us, which means itchy, watery eyes, noses, and throats followed by a sore throat and cough drops … lots of them. There's a good chance the little morsels of throat-soothing relief you're chomping on were made in Mooresville at BestSweet, the largest manufacturer of cough drops in the U.S. (the company turns out 5.2 million every day). Its newest product -- Bee MD -- boasts honey as the main ingredient, but what we really love are its Baskin-Robbins hard and soft candies (bonus: they're low cal!). So we sampled them -- in the name of reporting, of course -- to find the very best in the bunch.

Cookies 'n Cream

Cookies 'n Cream
We were skeptical at first -- how can you mimic the flavor of an Oreo in a hard candy, anyway? -- but the tiny candy tastes just like the cookie. Both are equally addictive.

Pralines 'n Cream

Cookies 'n Cream
Think of the flavor of a Werther's Original candy … but better. The smooth flavor melts in your mouth just like a scoop (or three) of BR's Pralines 'n Cream ice cream.

Mint Chocolate Chip

Cookies 'n Cream
Though it doesn't taste exactly like the ice cream, it satisfies a late-afternoon chocolate craving and has a touch of mint flavor.

Web exclusive: How BestSweet is saving bees and their honey

One of BestSweet's newest products is called Bee MD. "It's an organic product that's formulated with honey as the main ingredient," said Harry Overly, vice president of marketing. Moreover, BestSweet plans to donate a portion of the product's proceeds to help out the little buzzing insects, which over the last few years have seen their numbers dramatically decrease due to something called colony collapse disorder (CCD). In 2007, 30 to 70 percent of hives of Western colonies perished. While experts are still trying to figure out why this is happening, Libby Mack of the Mecklenburg Beekeeper Association says it's probably due to a combination of a virus or fungus infection and pesticides.

Whatever the reason, if CCD continues, it could spell big trouble for all of us as more than one third of our global food supply would cease to exist without bees acting as pollinators. "If CCD were to start harming bees locally, first it would mean that it had spread everywhere and that would be bad news indeed for the food supply," says Mack. "Local growers of melons, apples, and peaches would find it difficult to get pollination and locally grown fruit would be scarce and expensive."

Overly says that BestSweet is working with the National Honey Board to coordinate how to best disperse funds within the CCD research community, and the company plans to move forward once this year's cold and flu season is over. "Once we realized just how important bees are to the food supply it was a no-brainer," Overly says. "We had to get involved."