Feast for the senses

The 2010 Winter Fancy Food Show was a sight for the eyes, nose and taste buds too.

By Richard Turcsik

Perhaps the organizers of the Winter Fancy Food Show should change the name of the annual mid-January San Francisco event to the “Why Didn’t I Think of That Million Dollar Idea First? Expo.” That’s because the show’s nearly 50 aisles were chock full of sure-fire, no-brainer, gourmet hits that will be making their way onto store shelves this year.

Take Konenz (pronounced Cone-enz), for example. Everybody knows that the best part of an ice cream cone is that last bite filled with luscious soft ice cream, but it took Jackie Clayton, proprietor of the Prescott, Ariz.-based start-up to bring it to market. Packed 12 Konenz to a box, the 1-inch treats are available in Coconut, Pecan and Sprinkles varieties, in a variety pack or individual flavors, with a suggested retail of $2.99. The cones are lined with chocolate, filled with ice cream and topped with coconut, pecans or sprinkles.

“We also sell a three-pack for impulse buys, like movie theaters, amusement parks, convenience stores and ice cream trucks,” Clayton said.

You know those 5-ounce aerosol cans that are used for whipped cream? Thomas Toth, managing partner at Melbourne, Fla.-based Lé Foam had a million dollar idea to fill them with low-cal, portion controlled versions of salad dressings and sauces. Show goers were lining up at his booth to sample salads sprayed with a dollop of Lemon Dijon or Wasabi dressings, as well as a Chocolate Truffle sauce. “We’ll be introducing Sundried Tomato and Parmesan sprays in mid-2010,” he said. “It has a full month shelf-stable life, but we recommend refrigeration just to bring it down to temperature. You get 33 servings in a can, but I’ve been using this one most of the day.”

Woeber Mustard Manufacturing Co. was touting its new flavored mayonnaise. “We’ve been around since 1905 and our Woeber’s Sandwich Pal Horseradish Sauce is the number one specialty condiment in the country,” said Rick Schmidt, vice president of national sales at the Springfield, Ohio-based company.

Chutneys from the U.K.

Over at the American Roland booth, dozens of new gourmet products were making their debut, including Bombay Authentics brand Indian chutneys, pastes and curry sauces that New York-based Roland is importing from England. “You can mix our Luxury Mint Chutney with yogurt, or you can marinate it with lamb chops,” the Bombay Authentics demonstrator said. “We supply Harrods in England and other stores and we have now come to America.”

“This year we came out with a line of Don Bruno pasta sauces to complement our Don Bruno pasta,” said Lisa Kartzman, marketing manager at Roland. “The sauces happen to be made in the U.S. which is unusual for us because most of our products are imported.”

Roland has expanded its line of shelf-stable tray-pack vegetables to include grilled white asparagus and grilled artichokes. “These are break-away boxes for the retailer so the store simply has to cut open the box and put it on the shelf,” Kartzman said.

Scott Walker, regional sales manager, West, for Needham Heights, Mass.-based Food Should Taste Good, was explaining to passersby at his booth about what sets his salty snacks apart from the mass market national brands. “We are all natural and all about flavor. Our olive chips have briny black and Kalamata olives baked right in; there are no topical seasonings that are sprayed on,” he said. “We offer true flavor. You really taste the flavor.”

The principals at York, Pa.-based Wolfgang Candy Co. had the million dollar idea to introduce a competitively priced domestically produced version of those popular chocolate-enrobed European cookies.

Pointing to a display of Eves milk chocolate-topped truffle cookies with a caramel filling, Mike Schmid, managing partner and chief marketing officer said, “Every­thing you see here is made in America.” He also noted that Wolfgang does the private label gourmet cookies for CVS and Walgreens. “For our grand finale we have a milk chocolate butter cookie and dark chocolate with raspberry. They retail for $3.99. The European version of this is the Lu cookie made in Belgium. That is 5 ounces. This is 10.6 ounces. The Lu cookie retails at grocery for $4.99. This is $3.99.”

Another new product featured at the Wolfgang booth was Jungle Jack’s chocolate covered animal crackers. “Skip Jack’s is our chocolate covered oyster cracker. It is a sweet and salty snack,” Schmid said.

Bacon is in

If there was one overall “in” flavor at this year’s show it was bacon. Last year’s show stopper J&D’s Foods Baconsalt from Seattle was once again exhibiting and showcasing its expanded portfolio that now includes bacon-flavored popcorn and bacon-flavored envelopes that are guaranteed to bring letter writing back in style.

Over at the booth of Plush Puffs, a gourmet “homemade-style” mar­shmallow company, bacon flavor­ed marshmallows were being sampled as a potential concept flavor.

Bacon’s potential was also being tested at the booth of Auburn, Calif.-based Mad Will’s Food Company. “Our bacon chocolate sauce is about as leading-edge as you can get,” said Tim Sullivan, director of product division. “This is a prototype and we have some really interesting response to it. We’re gauging reaction to it and the Fancy Food Show is the place to do that. The response that we’re getting is really, really favorable,” he said.

“The other thing we are doing is a lot of co-packing and we have six new brands that we are packing for,” Sullivan said. “Our Gray Salt Caramel Sauce is ideal for ice cream or just eating it right out of the jar.”

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