Navy Pier in Chicago is the place to be if you want to take a bunch of photos of a person who gets paid to hang out in a Bubba Gump Shrimp Mascot costume. Appropriate for a Pink Thing of The Day, the costume is a cheerful shade of Shrimp Pink, so that counts!
It is this guy’s job to stand outside the restaurant and try not scare people away, I think.
Here, he is posing for a holiday snap with group of tourist fans! A lasting memory from an incredible vacation!
Look straight ahead and keep walking, honey!
Hello Ladies, are you perhaps hungry for some delicious chain-restaurant seafood?
He is willing to go the extra mile to recruit those who wish to dip him in drawn butter.
One Entrance to SFFS17 Flanked By Larger-than-Life Replicas of the Coveted Sofi Award! (All Photos By Gail)
If you would like to know what it is like to eat and drink your way from one end of NYC’s Javits Convention Center to the other, then the Specialty Foods Association’s annual Summer Fancy Food Show is the must-attend event for you! Sadly, you must have at least a tenuous relationship to the Specialty Food business in order to get in, and lucky for us (and you) we have that connection. I attended with my food critic friend Anne on the opening day of the event’s three-day stretch of wild food delirium. It was all kinds of exhausting fun, but it was worth it.
The Sofi Awards Honor the Best and Most Innovative Products in Specialty Food
With over 5,000 exhibitors from around the globe, the SFFS is a kind of blissful food overload that is virtually impossible to thoroughly distill — but we are going give it our best shot! We have a lot ground to cover, so we will break it down into a few subcategories covering food that just was simply delicious to put in the mouth, plus the most striking booth displays, stand-out product packaging, favorite brand mascots and most unusual products of the show. Here are some of our amazing discoveries!
PastificioBacchini Pasta Display
The Pastificio Bacchini booth was loaded with gorgeous fresh pastas that they were cooking up on site for tasting and swooning over.
When they say that these pastas are the Chef’s Best Friend, they mean it!
This Heart-Shaped Ravioli Pasta (stuffed with mozzarella di bufala campana, tomato and basil) looked almost too beautiful to eat!
Our very favorite had to be the Fiocchi Formaggio e Pere (a pasta purse stuffed with cheese and pears), pictured above, which was just insane. Mangia bene!
Also taking top honors in the pasta category was the Amore brand Sun-dried Tomato Ravioli Salad featuring Amore Four Cheese Ravioli, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Pesto Paste! So easy to make — we got the recipe!
Calabro brand Fresh Rotolo are tiny, hand rolled pinwheels of Mozzarella and Prosciutto that make a delicious, convenient and visually-compelling party snack! Our favorite meat and cheese snack of the show!
Soon we came across the well-attended booth for C’est Gourmet Ready to Bake Pastry, from which you can make so many delicious treats of both sweet and savory variety — because everything is fresh baked by you at home!
In addition to an assortment of fruit and cheese strudels, and other pastries, C’est Gourmet also offers fill-and-bake Danish Twists and Swirls. You officially have no excuse not to bake!
Behold: the Red Velvet Bomboloni from Forno d’Asolo Italian Bakery! We are speechless!
Three words: Sticky Toffee Pudding from the Sticky Toffee Pudding Company. Like you couldn’t have just guessed that! Created by British ex-pat Tracy Claros, who is now based in Austin, Texas, these desserts are her updated approach on the great tradition of British hot puddings brought to America to share with you! You can buy them online!
Look at this cake. Just look at it. We found this gorgeous and outrageously moist and delicious Pistachio Pound Cake in the booth for Hahn’s Old Fashioned Cake Company!
This an Orange Creamsicle Smoothie that we refreshed ourselves with at the Walden Farms booth. The light and luscious smoothie is officially a low-sugar, low calorie treat as it’s made with both fat free yogurt and fat free milk, sweetened fresh fruit and two Walden Farms products: their Orange Marmalade Fruit Spread and their Marshmallow Dip. It tastes fantastic and you can get the recipe at their website!
Two Friends Chocolates makes gourmet candies that look like Art! We love the Mondrian design in the lower right hand corner, especially.
We had fun spotting and collecting snaps of products that had fun or funny names, eye-grabbing signage or clever slogans. Too Cool Chix are two cool chicks (Michele Elmer and Sharon Monahan) who have elevated the humble ice cream sandwich, because they think outside the pint!
Too Cool Chix all natural ice cream sandwiches are layered with handmade, soft cookies, paired with extraordinary micro-batch ice cream — what they call their “magic in the middle” — with the result being beautiful, delicious, classic and innovative flavor combinations.
The Beauty Bar: Lavender Ice Cream with a Soft Lemon Cookie Sandwich was my favorite!
Pickled Pink Foods, well, if you know me at all, it is obvious why this is included in the round up. These guys pickle foods that you would not necessarily traditionally pickle.
Like these Pickled Peaches, which taste exactly like you would imagine. They would be great served with barbecued meats (especially ribs), I think.
This is the slogan for Crapola Granola. Do you need me to explain to you why this is hilarious? It might not be as outrageous as This, but it still rates.
Crapola Cranbrerry and Apple Granola: It tastes good, and it makes you go. What more do you want?
Mallow Tree Fruit Flavoured Balls. The joke just writes itself!
“Eat Our Meat” is the sexually suggestive slogan for Ayoba-Yo, makes of Biltong Jerky and other fine dried meat products. Biltong (a word which I recently played in a game of Words With Friends) is a South African style of air-dried steak jerky which makes all other jerkies taste like chewy rope by comparison. The photo above shows a selection of Droewors, the new standard for Beef Sticks. Eat their meat, indeed.
Meat Jokes! Pigs! We can’t get enough of either!
Meat Mitch BBQ Sauce featuring a Pig named Mitch: Put it on Your Meat, and Eat It.
SuperSeedz Gourmet Pumpkin Seeds initially got our attention because their logo is a Big Pink Pumpkin! SuperSeedz makes seasoned and toasted, no-shell gourmet pumpkin seeds in a variety of delicious flavors that include Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt, Garlicky Dill, and Italian Tomato!
Al Dente Artisinal Pasta gets a pass for the pun! Ha ha ha, Pasta!
Suckerpunch Gourmet Bloody Mary Mix: There are so many things to like about the label alone.
Wise Crackers: For Health Snacking!
Brooklyn Brine Company is famous for its handmade pickles! Also: Metal!
Whitley’s Peanuts presents the Andrew Dice Clay version of Mr. Peanut.
Mama Zuma’s Revenge Kettle-Cooked Habanero Potato Chips (from the Route 11 brand)got everyone’s attention, not just with its fiery heat, but with its packaging art inspired by actress Jane Russell’s role in the 1943 film The Outlaw! Mama Zuma/Jane is depicted on the bag, carrying a Route 11 flag in one hand and a flaming habanero pepper in the other, while wearing a bunch of hot peppers like a grenade belt. Hot and Hot!
Red Rocker Candy Summer Sunset Mix: A Raspberry Lemonade Delight. It looks and sounds amazing!
Best Holiday Packaging, hands down, goes to Frau Helga’s Dresden Butter Stollen, which encapsulates everything delicious about the Christmas season in one festive package!
Chomperz Crunchy Seaweed Chips from Seasnax: Winner of our Shark Attack Snack Packaging Award that we just made up right now!
Choc Stars Chocolate Bars are all natural German-made milk chocolate bars with easily recognizable (and hilarious) depictions of popular music star as pets on their labels. The Michael Jackson one is just too perfect. Also: Katty Perry, HA! Winner: Best Pop Culture Mash-Up!
The Cuteness in Packaging Award goes to P-Nuff Crunch, with its tiny peanut mascot lifting weights. OMG so adorable. This snack is delicious and crunchy like Cheetohs but with Peanut flavor, and it is not made with corn. P-nuff Crunch is the only baked puff snack made from heart-healthy and protein-filled peanuts, fiber-full navy beans, and slow digesting complex carbohydrate rice — natural ingredients, with no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives are added! Our Favorite Bagged Snack of the show!
Enlightened Red Velvet Ice Cream Bar. Anne and I were initially chatted-up in the ladies room by the mother of the guy who created this line of high protein/low sugar frozen desserts. She claimed that it greatly assisted her weight loss efforts — worth exploring!
Best Coffee Pun goes to Java Factory’sJava Nagila Chocolate Mint Keurig pods (photographed in the booth for Brooklyn Bean Roastery)!
We love the retro-style packaging art for Virginia Diner Can-Do Button Mix. With every purchase of this item, a 10% donation is made to cancer research. This tasty candy/nut mix features Virginia Diner’slightly-salted Virginia peanuts mixed with candy coated chocolates to create a sweet/salty treat. For The Cure.
A shout out to Strawberry Hill Candy for their Sugar Skull, Bat, Ghost and Jack-O-Lantern-shaped Lollipops for Halloween!
We have no competition here against this gentleman clad in lime green trousers that flaunt a Hot Pink Crabs and Lobtsers motif (with bonus points for the coordinating Top-Siders, jacket, and tote bag)! Winner: Best Pants of the Show! (Update: Mr. Best Pants has now been identified to us as Stan Ferguson!)
With a staggering number of exhibitors vying for even 5 minutes of attention from dazed attendees, it can pay off well to have an adorable, or otherwise eye-catching, focal point at your boot or display that will attract those who simply must stop to snap a photo for their Instagram so they getinstagram likes. Greenlid compost bins is where we found these little Veggie Guys — a Broccoli Flowerette and her Carrot companion — which made us stop for a photo op, and a chance to learn more about their product. Greenlid is the first compostable and disposable composting bin, made entirely in Canada from locally-recycled cardboard. It breaks down with your compostable waste and produces nutrient-rich soil. Just fill it, seal it, and toss it in your backyard compost pile or put it curbside for municipal pick-up. It’s that easy!
Yes, there are real guys inside these hilarious inflatable costumes for Mr. Turkey and Mr. Bull, whom we found over at the booth for Field Trip Jerky.
All natural and gluten free, Brooklyn-based Field Trip Jerky is a fast growing, health lifestyle brand aimed at providing delicious and versatile meat snacks that complement a large variety of on-the-go consumers. Formed by three friends who saw a need to transform meat snacks after tasting their first craft jerky on the ski slopes in Vermont, Field Trip makes healthier protein-rich snacks without sacrificing quality and taste!
Winner: Best Mascots at SFFS17!
I somehow neglected to get a full photo of the booth for Cookie Dough Confections, makers of gourmet, customizable cookie dough for eating and baking, but I think that was because I was distracted by a couple of amazing Pink Things in their booth.
One being this Hot Pink Neon Cookie Light!
And the other being this Hot Pink KitchenAid Mixer! WOW! Winner: Best Pink Things of the SFFS17!
Stonewall Kitchen, an award-winning purveyor of jams, condiments, spreads, mixes and other gourmet specialty foods embraced a Winter Holiday theme by parking a miniature Red Christmas Tree Truck right in the middle of their rather expansive booth! You can see and feel the effects of Kitchenistic products in your home.Winner: Best Holiday-Themed Booth!
No gimmicks are needed for this super-clean yet visually seductive display for Peter SpantonDrinks: a selection of specialty tonics that can be served on their own as unique ‘soft drinks for grown ups’ or used as a bespoke mixer when paired with its suggested complementary spirit. For example, Lemongrass No. 5 pairs ideally with vodka or gin, while Chocolate No. 4 — an exotic blend of mint and dark chocolate — goes well with dark spirits. Home mixologists take note! Winner: Best Mixers!
Yo Mama Foods, makers of delicious homemade Marinara Sauce, Sesame Dressing and Marinade, and Balsamic Dressing and Marinade, made the most of their smaller space in the New Brands on the Shelf Alley with this fun illuminated vintage signage! Winner: Best Logo Signage!
Chuao Chocolatier make premium gourmet chocolate bars with unexpected add-ins that include Honeycomb, Potato Chips (my personal favorite) and even Bacon! A SFFS17, this Fair Trade company introduced two new Latin-inspired flavors: Cheeky Cheeky Churro (with little Churro bits mixed in) and Totally Tangy Mango! Mmm, mouthwatering!
Chuao Display — Choose Your Favorite!
Their booth incorporated this old fashioned Bicycle-Driven Ice Cream Cart, on which they displayed their many Sofi Awards! They had a little Boom Box Dance Action going on as well. Very fun!
And finally, we present our favorite booth of the show: Belgian Boys European style cookies and treats! The Boys (and Girl) brought the beach right into Javits Center with their Say Hello to Summer-themed booth, which featured a bamboo bar display, Surfboards, a Wading Pool full of cookies and a giant Waffle Shaped Pool Raft!
The Lovely Anouck Poses with a Giant Belgian Waffle Pool Raft!
Belgian Boys dominate in the European Bakery treats category with their Mini Pancakes, Crepes, Waffle Chips, Chocolate Waffle Chips and their famous Cookie Butter, the National Belgian spread, made of crushed Speculoos cookies. We were also introduced to the Mini Cookie Stache, everyone’s favorite cookie butter cookies in a cute mustache shape! Mustache-tic!
Mmm…so much deliciousness!
And…that about does it for our photo recap of the Summer Fancy Food Show 2017! We hope you had as much fun as we did! See you next year!
Hey what’s up. Have you seen those Xifaxan commercials with the little animated wad of intestines? Whenever I see that commercial, I want to barf, because he is made to personify diarrhea. Hilariously, I recently found out that the Intestines Man is actually called Gut Guy, and — surprise! — he was created by an artist whom I actually know in real life: Jim McKenzie. Actually, Jim is not the sole creator of Gut Guy, but he contributed in the design process, which was a group effort with his team at Aardman Nathan Love!
While looking at Gut Guy still makes me feel queasy, I am so happy for Jim, who is also known as the New York Art Scene’s Favorite Teen Idol, because he is just so super talented, quite clever and adorable, not to mention, but you can see I am about to, very easy on the eyes.
Look at that face. I took this photo of Jim at a recent art opening. You can see he is quite proud of Gut Guy, even wearing a pin of its likeness on his jacket lapel. See more of the art of Jim McKenzie at Jim McKenzie Dot Net!
For a food blogger, there is no better way to kick off the summer in style than with the three-day tour de force that is the Summer Fancy Food Show, which took over Manhattan’s massive Javits Center in its entirety from June 28th to 30th. With over 5,000 exhibitors from around the globe, Summer Fancy Food is the most exciting Specialty Foods product showcasing event of the year for restaurant owners, gourmet vendors, and foodies alike!
As usual, I went with an empty tummy, a huge swag bag, and eyes wide open for spotting the most striking booth displays, stand out product packaging and most unusual products of the show. Here are some of our favorite discoveries!
Simply Baked makes eye-catching packaging for baked goods, treats and gifts. They even have cupcake cups that go right into the oven and come out ready to serve! I appreciated the pink popcorn and cupcakes that were part of an overall visually enchanting display.
Salad Shotz makes Kid Friendly Salad Dressings with all natural ingredients, that will appeal to the adult palate as well. Chocolate Chip salad dressing, mmmmm.
I imagine it was fun for the folks at Buen Sabor to drive their Empanada-serving VW Bus right up to and inside of Javits Center!
Promising Food Truck Flavors Without the Line, Buen Sabor nevertheless attracted a consistent queue with their delicious offerings of frozen empanadas in tempting flavors like Plantain and Cheese, and Beef Picadillo.
Lolea Sangria is an exceptionally delicious beverage that comes in both red and white varieties and is as distinctive for its flavor as it is for its red and white polka dot bottles that recall the work of Japanese pop artist Yayoi Kusama. When I brought it up, no one at the booth had heard of her.
Morfat is how I felt when I was only about a tenth of the way through the show! And don’t these cakes look delicious!
Kefla Glass Bottles from Germany come in so many different shapes, sizes and colors, but I loved the ones that look like little shoes!
Barnana Organic Chewy Banana Bites is one of the most original and great tasting snacks I’ve encountered at any food show, anywhere. Unfortunately, they did not have free samples to take home at their booth, and when I tried to surreptitiously pilfer a bag from their display, I was caught red handed. The shame.
Mocktails brand non-alcoholic cocktail beverage alternative comes in this neato, totally reusable Cocktail Shaker packaging! Adding alcohol is allowed, at your discretion!
Serendipity 3’s Frozen Hot Chocolate Mix gets bonus points for having Satan depicted on its packaging. I imbibed my first Frozen Hot Chocolate at the age of 18 years and still recall how it made me feel drunk, even though it contains no alcohol. Mysterious! And now you can prepare one at home, in a variety of flavors no less!
Best Mobile Display goes out to Brian Levin of Perky Jerky!
I didn’t see too many Brand Mascots on the floor this year, but the Mamma Chia Human Squeeze Bag sure was friendly! Read more about the health benefits of Chia seeds at This Link!
Blue Isle Mediterranean dairy products had a String Cheese on display at their booth that was the size of a small infant. Impressive!
In line for Best Slogan/ Tag Line is Smari Organic Icelandic Yogurt with “Strong, Like My Mother.” Also, I love the Spoon wearing a Viking Hemet. Valhalla, I am coming!
Four Words: Beer Flavor Jelly Bellys.
Fancy Food is so huge, it has room to feature aisle after aisle crammed with hundreds of hot sauce products. These booths provide the best photos ops you could imagine. Let’s take a look!
Red Robot Hot Sauce, features a cute little Red Robot on its label!
Fat CatFoods makes an extensive line of spicy sauces, but this Bacon Sriracha was my favorite. I bet it tastes insane.
I put Empire Mayonnaise at the top of my list of booths to visit when their friendly PR Rep told me in an email that one of her favorites sayings was, “Hating Mayonnaise Does Not Make You Interesting.” They gave away little jars of their delicious gourmet mayonnaise. Best Booth Ever.
I also didn’t see as much candy at this year’s show, but we were impressed by Strawberry Hill Candy’sEmpire State Building Lollipops. New York City!
Cracked Candy may be capitalizing on the still-trending popularity of all things Breaking Bad (one representative in the booth was shamelessly sporting a Heisenberg-esque Pork Pie Hat) but this sweet stuff is sugar and gluten free, non-GMO and diabetic friendly, so it’s all good! Say Their Name: Cracked Candy!
Wine Sticks (tag line: “Sass with your Glass”) from South Carolina’s The Sweetery are thin, crispy biscuits (cookies) that pair with wine and can even be dunked! I enjoyed tasting several varieties with a glass of red wine, and company co-owner/founder Jane Jarahian was a sweet and attentive lady.
Aside from having an awesome name, Steve’s Ice Cream took home a coveted Sofi Award in the Category of Outstanding Ice Cream, Gelato, or Frozen Treat for their Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream! My personal favorite flavor though was the Southern Banana Pudding. Mmmm, Ba-na-na.
I was already at the point of exploding when I hit the Brownie Points Bakery booth for a sampling of their assorted mouth-watering, home made brownies and popcorn treats. They were baking fresh brownies right in the booth! Heaven.
Wouldn’t this multicolored popcorn make a fun party favor? Sure it would.
Sexy Pop Snacks always creates a bold presence with their brightly colored bags of chips and popcorn that come in all kids of yummy flavors.
Boulder Granola (tag line: “Unleash Your Inner Hippie!”) brought a much smallerVW Bus into the Javits Center (see below) but, dang if the don’t embrace a memorable and vibrant brand identify with their psychedelic flower power Bus logo/backdrop and commitment to being Organic and Gluten Free.
And finally, let’s wrap up this thing with the Pop Art SnacksGourmet Popcorn Booth, which got everything right! From the clever product name and Lichtenstein knockoff artwork to the Neon Logo and the custom-made Popcorn Disco Ball — this brand really made themselves stand out from the crowd! Owners Mike and Venessa (who, like me, are big Pop Art fans) started out in Brooklyn and relocated to Utah where they are growing the brand and enjoying great success! We hope to see them back at Javits for FFS 2016 next summer!
Photographed by Gail at the Summer Fancy Food Show, Javits Center
Mr. Knobs is a Human Ginger Root who is the Mascot/Chief Brand Ambassador for The Ginger People, a company that makes candy, beverages and other food products containing ginger. Visit them at This Link.
Hey, how cute is this little guy? Look at that tongue, will you? Amazing. You know what? The Anteater is actually the mascot for the college I graduated from about a million years ago, UC Irvine. Anyway, I know the caption on this video says that the Anteater is drinking wine, but it’s really just apple-cranberry juice, so don’t get your panties in a wad or anything.