BOSTON (AP) _ The hottest thing in sweets is sours.

Visitors to the nation's summer confectionery trade show are puckering up to Crybaby Extra Sour Bubblegum, Silli Sours, Sour Blast Sour Stars and others.

There's also a ''Ross For Boss'' gum cigar whose bubble hasn't quite burst, even though Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot dropped his bid for the presidency last week.

''There's no real rhyme or reason why the sour mix sells,'' said Bill Sheehan, spokesman for National Confectioners Association. ''It snowballs. Sours are doing well, so other manufacturers extend it.''

E. Rosen Co.'s Sour Little Devils are one of the hits. They were designed with the help of 400 Rhode Island youngsters, said owner John B. Rosen, one of the 900 exhibitors at the 3-day trade show, sponsored by what was formerly called the National Candy Wholesalers Association.

The organization switched names in February to the American Wholesale Marketers Association. Displays included snack foods such as pickled Polish sausage and the multi-colored Fruity Confetti popcorn made by I Can't Believe It's Popcorn of Noblesville, Ind.

The aisles also were crammed with tobacco products, cough drops, toys - and even condoms.

''My business has never been better,'' said Linda Harkavy, of New York City, who said filmmaker Steven Spielberg keeps her Linda's Lollies brand of gourmet lollipops in his limousine.

''No matter how bad the economy is, it takes a lot before you decide not to get your child a good piece of candy,'' said Marvin Holland of the E. Rosen Candy Co. in Pawtucket, R.I.

Retail candy sales are expected to reach $14 billion this year, up 2 percent from last year, according to the National Confectioners Association. Americans consume an average of 21 pounds of candy a year per person, up from 16 pounds in 1981, the association says.

In addition to the sours, booths featured old favorites: Necco wafers, Almond Joys, Tootsie Rolls, Sugar Babies, Jolly Ranchers and Milk Duds.

Newer products included Linda's Lollies, which try to tempt adults with 60 flavors, ranging from German Chocolate Cake to Irish Creme. The most popular, though, is plain old wild cherry, Harkavy said.

Others want to whet baby-boomers' appetites for snacks they loved as kids. One example is Maxi Krisps of Norcross, Ga., which makes the Rice Krispie Treats Mom used to make, updated for the 1990s with chocolate or peanut-butter chips.

The show is held every six months in a different city and is open to members of the industry only. Organizers donate about 20 tons of candy and snacks to area food banks when the shows close, officials said.