The Fancy Food Show is the arguably the best food event in the US every June. It’s fun to take your black officially FFS tote and load it up as you walk around tasting the treats and checking out the trends. There are foods from all over the world including cheeses from France, Italy and Greece that are flown in just for the show (since they do not have distribution). Needless to say, a lot of the products at the FFS are looking for stores to sell them so show attendees are often the first American foodies to ever try them! This is a real blessing and one of the main reason I attend the show. Every attendee is allowed to fill up the logo bag they are handed at check in but are not allowed to take more than that as all leftovers go to City Harvest. I’d now like to discuss a few of the favorite brands and trends that ai encountered at the show.I always have to head to the Gerrit J. Verburg Candy booth within the first hour of my visit to the Fancy Food Show because they have every retro candy that you could possibly dream of and I was thrilled when the team there gave me some Black Jack, my favorite childhood gum that I assumed was long as of production as well as the legendary Beeman and Clove gums, Gumbilees (which are my all time favorite gum drop) and classic licorice mix called Gustaf’s All Sort. They have one of the most colorful booths. You could easily spend an hour looking at the hundred or more types of packages candies here and they have some of the nicest people at the show in their sales force. If I was going to the electric chair, I would select five or six of their candies for my last meal–see and order many of their nostalgia candies at www.candystore.com/brands/gerrit-j-verburg!Not surprisingly, there were a lot of booths catering to the vegan and vegetarian set and the best veggie frozen entrees and appetizers in my book are Garden Lites. They always say that this line is about “veggies made great” and certainly everything I have ever tried by them had really lived up to all the publicity surrounding this line. Fancy Food Show guests got to taste their two newest items, Veggie Cakes and Frittatas. More specifically, everyone got to sample Spinach Egg White Frittata and Veggie Bacon, Potato & Egg Frittata and Broccoli Cheddar, Mushroom & 3 Cheese Egg White Frittata. It’s incredible that all of these items are gluten free, have five grams of protein and less than 90 calories. For more info on this ingenious line which combines healthy ingredients with great flavor, go to www.gardenlites.com.Every year I have to check out the Brownie Brittle booth because I am amazed at how much flavor is packed into this crunchy cookie snack and how low in calories it is. This year at the Fancy Food Show they heavily promoted the Blondie Brittle and had people posing with different props to celebrate including feather boas and brightly colored sunglasses. Other new products that the foodie crowd went wild for included Chocolate Almond Brownie Brittle (rich chocolate Brownie Brittle studded with chocolate chips and toasted almonds) and Thindulgent Cookies which are available in both Toasted Coconut and Caramel flavors and are filled with decadent creamy fudge. For more info, go to www.browniebrittle.com.One of the largest and most beautiful booths always belongs to Stonewall Kitchen. You probably see a lot of their products at William Sonoma stores but it features so many products that no store is big enough to stock. They have remarkable dips and jams and I thoroughly lost my mind over the Bacon Queso Dip and the Apple Blueberry Dip. I have yet to meet a food brand with more unusual dips, jams, jellies and spreads. I could have easily spent 90 minutes at this booth sampling everything but I was already full from the 20 booths I had visited previously. It was so great to get a sneak peak at their multitude of Christmas items including some great colorful boxed stacks of items in decorative boxes that do not need wrapping. For more info on this legendary brand, go to www.stonewallkitchen.com.Sugar Bowl Bakery is always a must-visit booth for me every year and I was thrilled to learn the story about this San Francisco area based business from Mark Ly, a second generation member of the Ly family who are the proprietors. The five Ly brothers came over from Viet Nam over 40 years ago and started the beloved Sugar Bowl Coffee Shop in 1984 which eventually evolved into the Sugar Bowl Bakery. This line is available both as a food service (to restaurants, coffee shops and cafeterias) and as a supermarket line. Sugar Bowl makes a lot of buttery American classics but the remarkable thing is that all items taste remarkably fresh even though they come wrapped in plastic. When you try them you will swear that they were baked that morning. The Madelines are one of their superstar products but the Elephant Ears (officially known as Petite Palmiers) are my favorite, especially since they are hard to get these days. I had their apple fritters for the first time at the Fancy Food Show and they blew me away. Former President Barack Obama is a fan and he told the story of the formation of the business as part of an immigrant success day in San Francisco about 10 years ago. All five Ly brothers are still “hands on” within the business. For more info, go to www.sugarbowlbakery.com.I am a longtime Jelly Belly fan so I had to go over and check out some of their classic and new products (many of which have a Harry Potter theme). I was dazzled by the new Wonder Woman, Toy Story 4 and Candy Cupcake items (the Candy Cupcakes taste like very fresh candy corn to me and are actually shaped like cupcakes). The new line called Recipe Mix is a collection that includes five new jellybean flavors–Blueberry Muffin, Chocolate Covered Banana, Lemon Meringue Pie, S’Mores and Peanut Butter & Jelly (which is actually peanut free). I did wander around this colorful and large booth trying new flavors and oohing and aahing at the amazing packaging and concepts. My favorite collection in the entire history of Jelly Belly is the Krispy Kreme collection (I still can’t get over the fact that they can make a jelly bean that tastes like a jelly doughnut.) For more info on this legendary brand which is available at supermarkets and mass merchandisers, go to www.jellybelly.com.I promised myself that I would check out some of the many healthy items at the show this year and I naturally gravitated towards Milkadamia’s decorative paper boxes–and I was blow away when I tasted it the Unsweetened Vanilla. Milkadamia uses pure raw macadamia nut oil and interestingly enough is owned by Jindilli Farms, the world’s largest producer of raw macadamia nut oil. This company doubled their sales in the past year and recently branched out to produce creamy macadamia butter. (I tried this at the booth and it was a big “wow” for me!) Milkadamia is infused with Omega-7 and they not only have the macadamia milk but creamers as well. For more info, go to www.milkadamia.com.Before I left the show, I had to check out the booth and annual happy hour given by Mingle Mocktails. I love non-alcoholics cocktails and it is an underserved field in the beverage world even though it has been growing a lot in the past ten years. I also love that this is a female-owned business. Mingle Mocktails are only 20 calories per glass and taste very natural; I fell head over heels for the new Blood Orange Elderflower flavor when I tried it. Other flavors are Blackberry Hisbiscus Bellini, Cranberry Cosmo, Moscow Mule and Cucumber Melon Mojito. This line is upscale yet approachable and available at 550 retail outlets including Stop & Shop, ShopRite, Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon. You can also order Mingle and find out more interesting info on this revolutionary line at www.minglemocktails.com.
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