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Welcome to Fancy Food & Culinary Products' blog, your place to read reviews of the great fancy and gourmet products we find in the marketplace.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer Fancy Food Show, Part I

Today was day one of the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City. I wish I'd have taken pictures yesterday when our sales manager Joanne and I were there to set up and hand out ad boards -- it's like being backstage at a musical or play. You walk the aisles (very carefully! You don't want to get run over by a an electronic cart or cherry-picker!) and see booths in every stage of set-up. As of 12:30, there were booths complete with product displayed, counters draped and ready for the show opening, and there were booths that were still empty, except for a few boxes and crates marked with the company name. Boxes and storage crates of every size and shape were piled around the show floor -- I think it takes seeing the show in that stage to really get an appreciation of what goes into each and every booth on the floor.

Anyway, the first day of the show was great! I made the mistake of starting out up on the first floor, just like everybody else and their mothers. I wandered the 400-1000 aisles for a bit before heading downstairs. Here's a few of the companies I came across today:

The Cooperstown Cookie Company offers baseball-shaped shortbread cookies in officially licensed Major League Baseball packaging. New this year are the Baseball Hall of Fame vintage tins and classic Stadium Tins, including a favorite from my hometown, Wrigley Field. Now baseball fans can hang in through the seventh inning stretch with the Tube of Bunts, a cylindrical tin featuring logos from teams such as the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees and of course, the Chicago Cubs. More info at

New to the Fancy Food Show, Somebody's Mother's Chocolate Sauce ( was sampling their Chocolate Sauce, Caramel Sauce (nominated for a 2009 Sofi award) and White Chocolate with Pear William Sauce, which they sampled drizzled over some vanilla ice cream -- delish! Lynn Lasher and her three children, Reese, William and Hayden, were were manning the booth and dishing out samples of all three sauces. Good luck on the nomination, Lasher family!

Local brownie bakers, Mari's of New York ( was also at the show, featuring "simply marvelous" brownies. These moist little bites come packaged in a coral gift box that you might just see in an upcoming Fancy Food gift guide. The company offers seasonal brownie offers, such as Holiday Cheer and L'Orange.

Tune in tomorrow for more updates from the 2009 Summer Fancy Food Show!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Editor's Choice: Funky Chunky Inc.

It's been busy over here at Fancy Food & Culinary Products while we try to get ready for the Summer Fancy Food Show. I've got an extensive list of booths to visit and people to see. Much of my time will be spent sampling new products and talking to owners of new companies, but there are some companies that I will always take a few moments to visit, even if they aren't introducing any new flavors. One such company is FunkyChunky Inc.

Mother-daughter team Ronni L. Feuer and Erica Feuer-Kopilenko are the masterminds behind an absolutely addictive confection that starts with buttery caramel popcorn. Then layers of milk, dark and white chocolate are drizzled on and glazed whole almonds, pecans and cashews are thrown into the mix for good measure. They also have a pretzel version, drizzling chunks of pretzel in milk, white and dark chocolate, caramel and adding pecans. I can't decide which I like better, and at shows I find myself in front of their booth, gazing over the little sample cups, torn between taking the biggest sample I can find and the hard-learned wisdom of pacing with samples at the show. As it usually happens, this is a moment where caution is thrown into the wind and I end up trying whatever they're offering.

Added incentive for stopping by the FunkyChunky booth however comes in the form of a bar. This summer, the company is launching a brand new line of chocolate bars in four flavors: Chocolate, which blends milk chocolate with dried berries, graham crackers, pecans, crispy rice and chocolate sandwich cookies. The entire bar is then drizzled with white chocolate; Licorice, which packs dark chocolate with chewy caramel and soft red licorice pieces, then is finished with a white chocolate drizzle; Peanut Crunch, jammed with salty, fresh-roasted peanuts and crunchy chocolate puffs smothered in milk chocolate, topped with drizzles of chocolate and peanut butter confection; and Graham Cracker, which melds dark chocolate, fluffy marshmallows and caramel together, then tops the combination with a graham cracker drizzled with dark, milk and white chocolates. Is your stomach growling yet?

The new bars are packaged in a clear acetate bag topped with a black bow and hang tag to best display the premium ingredients used in the small-batch, handcrafted confections. If you're going to the Summer Fancy Food Show, these delightful new products can be found at booth #4734. Otherwise, check back with the website,, after July 1, which is when the bars will be available to ship.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Editor's Choice: Peanut Shop of Williamsburg

For me, one of the most exciting parts of eating is discovering a food I previously disliked – or at least wasn’t over the moon for – can be new and interesting. I experienced this when I opened up the can of Praline Glazed Georgia Pecan from The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg, made using a traditional Southern recipe. I was happy to discover that the nut I’d long associated with a scene from When Harry Met Sally was in fact light, sweet and delicious.

Most of my run-ins with pecans are limited to dessert, and I can imagine the Praline Glazed Georgia Pecans as a delightful addition to vanilla ice cream. However, what I like most about these pecans is that I’m able to enjoy a handful and they’re delicious without anything added. Not too sweet and not dry either. Chopped up, the Praline Pecans can add a sweet topping to a salad served with a light vinaigrette.

The company doesn’t limit itself to flavors from the South. The Peanut Shop gets creative with its Yin & Yang Peanuts, a mix of honey roasted peanuts and wasabi peanuts. And, I’m pretty pumped about the New Pecan Trio. With Roasted & Salted, Praline Coated and Sugar & Spice in one 18-oz. tin, it’s a three-way combo of sweet and salty delights.

To see more of The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg’s nutty products, candy and sauces, check out

- Mary

I'd like to welcome Mary to the staff of Fancy Food & Culinary Products! Mary Gerlach, editor of Fancy's sister publication Baby & Kids will now also be contributing to Fancy Food & Culinary Products. Nice job on your first Editor's Choice, Mary!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer Fancy Food Show Sofi Award Finalists

Finalists for Outstanding New Product 2009 and Outstanding Product Line

The judging is now complete to select Silver Finalists in all 33 categories of this year’s sofi awards for the outstanding specialty foods and beverages of 2009. This year’s panel of nine judges -- from The Pasta Shop and The Fresh Market to Pier 1 Imports, Meijer and the Myriad Restaurant Group -- met last week to select finalists for Outstanding New Product and Outstanding Product Line. Gold award judging will take place at the Summer Fancy Food Show. The 33 winners will be crowned at a special ceremony June 29 hosted by noted chef Ming Tsai.

Finalists for Outstanding New Product 2009:

Belle Chevre - Belle & The Bees Breakfast Cheese
Chex Finer Foods - Laurel Hill Tortilla Chips - Olive and Caper
Clotho Corp. - Haddrell's of Cambridge Rewarewa Honey
European Imports Ltd.- Cucina Viva Roasted Red Tomatoes
Grafton Village Cheese Co. - Grafton Duet
Koppert Cress USA - Mustard Cress Single Retail Unit
New England Herbal Foods - Danielle Fruit Chips - Roasted Coconut
Sonoma Syrup Co. - Acai Black Currant Superfruit Syrup
The Gracious Gourmet - Dilled Carrot Tomato Tapenade
Theo Chocolate – Theo Limited Edition Collection
Vinnedge Distributing Inc. - Vergnano Italian Organic Blood Orange Soda

Finalists for Outstanding Product Line:

Bellwether Farms – Bellwether Farms
De Medici Imports, Ltd. – A L’Olivier
Sarabeth’s Kitchen – Sarabeth’s Product Line
Silver Moon Desserts – Silver Moon Ice Cream and Sorbet
The Rogers Collection – Les Moulins Mahjoub

This year’s Sofi competition was robust. Members entered 1,997 products across all 33 categories, including 414 products for Outstanding New Product and 172 for Outstanding Product Line.

Don’t miss a chance to cheer for your colleagues at the Sofi awards ceremony at the Summer Show. To purchase tickets to the ceremony, visit This event is an "education session."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Organized Retail Theft On the Rise

NRF Organized Retail Crime Survey Finds Criminals View Global Recession as Opportunity to Abuse Retailers and Consumers

--Organized Retail Crime Activity Jumps by 8%, According to NRF Survey--

Washington, June 10, 2009 – As another illustration of the wide effect of the down economy, retailers and consumers are increasingly being victimized by organized retail crime groups. According to NRF’s fifth annual Organized Retail Crime survey, nine out of ten retailers (92%) report that their companies were victims of organized retail crime during the past year, up eight percent from 2008. Nearly three-fourths (73%) of retailers also reported the level of organized retail crime activity has increased over the past 12 months, an increase of 11 percent from 2008. Loss prevention executives from 115 companies, including department, discount, drug, grocery, restaurant and specialty retailers, completed the survey last month.

“The unfortunate economic events of the past year have played an intricate role in how criminals continue to rip off the retail industry,” said Joe LaRocca, NRF Senior Asset Protection Advisor. “Organized retail crime rings have realized that tough economic times present new business opportunities by stealing valuable items from retailers and turning around to sell the merchandise to consumers looking for bargains.”

Even with the economy forcing retailers to cut staff and do more with less, 42 percent of retailers say their company is allocating additional resources to address organized retail crime. According to the survey, the average retailer spends approximately $215,000 annually just on labor costs to fight organized retail crime. Some retailers surveyed spend far more, with six percent of respondents spending more than $1 million dollars a year to employ loss prevention executives devoted to organized retail crime.

The fight against organized retail crime would be futile without the support of top management. According to the survey, nearly half (49%) of respondents believe senior management in their company understands the seriousness of the issue. For the first time in the survey’s history, NRF also asked loss prevention executives whether they felt law enforcement had a firm grasp on the issue; 38 percent agreed that police officers, detectives and federal law enforcement understood the complexity and severity of organized retail crime.

Thanks to the new partnerships formed with Federal and local law enforcement officials, retailers have had some success identifying stolen merchandise or gift cards at physical fence locations such as pawn shops and temporary stores (60%) and through online e-fencing operations (60%), where stolen merchandise is sold through online auction sites.

Organized retail crime is not only an isolated problem in a handful of areas across the country. According to the survey, a staggering 72 percent of retailers have identified organized retail crime syndicates who are exporting goods outside of the U.S. or across state lines. Additionally, 28 percent found that criminal groups under current investigation have connections to street gangs with international connections.

When asked how they would rank organized retail crime as a threat to their company, nearly one-third (29%) of retailers gave organized retail crime a “four” or “five” rating, identifying the problem as severe or significant. On average, retailers gave organized retail crime a rating of 2.87 on a five-point scale.

NRF will address organized retail crime and many other loss prevention issues such as return fraud and counterfeiting at its annual Loss Prevention Conference and EXPO at the Los Angeles Convention Center, June 15-17. Law enforcement officials and retailers are eligible for complimentary EXPO Hall passes. Visit NRF’s LP Conference website for more information.

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2008 sales of $4.6 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations.

(Press release courtesy of the National Retail Federation,

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Have We Caught Your Fancy?

Niman Ranch CEO Jeff Swain (with Editorial Coordinator Barbara Wujcik) holds a copy of Fancy Food & Culinary Products at a recent chef dinner at Gibson's Steakhouse here in Chicago. Niman Ranch and its family farmers raise livestock traditionally, humanely, and sustainably to deliver the finest tasting meat in the world. More information on Niman Ranch and its products can be found at

Editor's Choice: Galison

As the stationery editor at one of Fancy Food’s sister publications, Giftware News, I constantly receive samples of the latest designs in greeting cards, note sets and other related items. Although many of the samples in my storage cabinet admittedly go unused (because honestly, I never plan on sending a birthday card with a giant cat on the front), I did receive one item in particular that I brought home and put to use right away. I immediately saw the utility in this product, and I have no doubt that it will be a saving grace for many of your customers.

Accordion organizers from Galison, a company known for its trend-forward stationery and office accessories, are the ideal solution for savvy shoppers who are currently clipping coupons to save money on groceries and other household items. These miniature books, which retail for less than $10 each, are portable filing systems that include six divider pockets to store coupons and ads; a notepad and an elastic pencil holder are also included inside, which makes it easy to keep grocery lists and menu plans on hand while shopping.

What’s even more exiting is that the hardcover organizers come in colorful patterns and designs from an array of famous artists (the organizer shown is a classic Andy Warhol option; the spine of the book even features a Warhol quotation). No longer do shoppers have to use boring, bland or flimsy plastic organizers; these sturdy little books truly bring a sense of style to the newly trendy frugal lifestyle.

To see more of Galison’s accordion organizers, as well as other coordinating kitchen and office accessories, visit


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Editor's Choice: Nutorious Nut Confections

This week's editor's choice comes to you straight from the pages of our July issue's Snacking All Stars feature. (Consider it a sneak peek!) The snack starts off innocently enough (after all, their tagline is "Innocently addictive"), with a mix of walnuts, almonds and pecans, but then comes the other stuff. In this case, for Cha Cha Chipotle, the other stuff includes sugar and spices, transforming the once good-for-you nut mix into an indulgent crunchy treat that is just plain good. I've got my reservations on how innocent the mixes from Nutorious Nut Confections really are, since they are so darn addictive. I was first hooked back when they were promoting their Cherry Vanilla Va-Voom, featuring cherries and just the right touch of vanilla. Since then, they have expanded the line to include Cranberry Orango Tango, Cha Cha Chipotle and Blueberry Lemon Merengue, which has been nominated for a Sofi award at this year's Summer Fancy Food Show. And of course, there's always simply the Ooo La La Original.

What's even better about these addicting nut mixes is that the company will be introducing the 2-oz. snack packs shown above at the Summer Fancy Food Show this year. This is particularly exciting for people like myself, who could take down a whole 8-oz. bag in one sitting if left unsupervised! Check out the Nutorious Nut Confections story and product details at or visit them at the Summer Fancy Food Show booth #5215.


Monday, June 1, 2009

June Top Shelf Advice

What kind of staging or promotions do you create in your store?