The Best and the Bizarre of Fancy Food 2011

The weekend of July 10-11, I had the privilege of attending the 57th Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington DC. In our line of work, the Fancy Food Show is the trade show of all trade shows. This year it was a three day extravaganza of 6,173 exhibitors booths set up at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and several thousand buyers, wholesalers, distributors, or whomever roaming the grounds to buy, discover, meet, and greet. Imagine walking the length of a football field over and over again scanning the aisles line with yards and yards of foodstuffs – everything from cheese, crackers, cookies, chocolate, tea, sodas, spices, meats, etc. to packaging, merchandising displays, book publishing companies, and more. Needless to say it is overwhelming and exhausting, but in the end it is such an amazing experience – one in which Lake Champlain Chocolates is a part of every year.

R& D Team- Eric & Lauren

For me on the other hand, this was my very first year ever attending, and you’re probably thinking, “What is someone in R&D doing at a trade show where the primary purpose is sales?”Well, I spent two days walking the aisles opening my eyes to what new products other companies were introducing, meeting potential suppliers, getting some inspiration and ideas, and soaking all of it in. It’s always important in my eyes to be in touch with what’s current, what customers are really looking for, and being mindful of all of that when I create any product.  Long story short – I want to make things that you all can and will enjoy!

While I saw and tasted so many things over the past few days, I wanted to share just how eye-opening the show can be when you’re looking hard enough. Here are some of the things I had never seen or in some cases even heard of before ranging from the bizarre and not necessarily tasty to deliciously awesome and spot on.

Dark Chocolate Covered Mustard Seeds

Fish-shaped ravioli for children

Dark Chocolate sweetened with Stevia

         Water with fulvic acid added to make it turn black

The first domestically produced soy sauce

Popcorn made from sorghum rather than corn

Polish mead made from four different kinds of honeys, chestnut &

chocolate puree

Dried durian fruit.

While these things may not necessarily sound appealing or even taste good, it makes for a unique educational experience and gets you thinking outside the box. The fact that all these things were under one roof was amazing to me, and the fact that I was there to experience it was even more so. Here’s to another great year at the Fancy Food Show.