We were encouraged to check out Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center over the weekend, but our Fancy Food Show visit a couple of years ago didn't prepare us for the amount of walking that took place. Three days and 10+ hours later, we made a sizable dent in the event. Deciding what was memorable became the difficult part. To make things more fun, we're bringing you the equivalent of yearbook superlatives.
Savory - EPIC took advantage of our savory tendencies and gave us the products we craved: protein snacks that didn't involve chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter or nuts. Uncured bacon or salmon bites, chicken Sriracha and even turkey cranberry bars, we dug them all. Their product line also featured animal cooking oils and bone broths.
Sweet - Yes, we even made time for non-salty foods. The folks at Bee Local out of PDX debuted a cold-smoked honey infused with Lapsang Souchong tea. It possessed a flavor with so much depth, we'd be fine with spoonfuls straight from the jar.
OC locals spotlight:
Savory - Listed as a Tustin business, we couldn't help but crack up at the name of Fashion Snackz's featured product: Deez Nuts. These sweet and savory vegan clusters were good eats, but the right name keeps you remembering . . .and laughing. We leaned towards their blueberry cashew bland.
Sweet - Our friends from Irvine-based ChocXO introduced a duo of products over the weekend. First up, SNAPS (a.k.a. quinoa crisps). Think crisped rice candy bars in dark chocolate, but with a healthier crunch. Other versions infusing almonds and peanuts are also in the mix. Their other surprise was a hazelnut butter cup with crispy quinoa, named noisettes. Offered in individually wrapped bites, we plan to get our sweets fix with these lovelies.
Hot: Upstairs, it was Chai-town. Yet our favorite sip came from Tea Drops. Dissolvable, organic flavors harvested from around the world, we gravitated towards Rose Earl Grey. No need to think about steep times, and those tags and strings are a thing of the past.
Cold: The gang at Revive Kombucha was as cool as the other side of the pillow. With taps on the ready, our tastes were swiftly poured into shotglasses while they grooved to tunes. From their OG craft cola to seasonal Spring Fling's cucumber, mint and lemon flavor, we visited them a few times for sparkling brews.
Part Two - (Because we can't help ourselves)
Call them honorable mentions. We couldn't fit them all into categories, but we like them all the same.
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Favorite marketing tool:
The dude wearing a velcro suit that was covered in packs of Perky Jerky. From far away, we thought he was supposed to jump out of a plane. Up close, our friend wanted to pull his jerky. We suggested that she ask permission before proceeding. Dude didn't mind at all, of course. Also worth mentioning, the Mancakes mascot. The man epitomized lumberjack chic, plus he was super nice. Is he available for parties?
Most heavily trending items:
It was a tie between all things chickpeas and everything yogurt. A wall of Banza pasta offered better-than-expected healthy, high-fiber noodles. Crunchy Biena snacks gave us flashbacks of a tasty side we ate in the lounge of Charlie Palmer with our lamb slider— except these were baked. In flavors like spinach jalapeno and artichoke dill, Sosi's Armenian yogurt dips hit the spot.
Best bacon-esque booths:
First off, when you're cooking bacon, you're automatically one of the best in show. That's how we felt about Pederson's Natural Farms. More meaty, less fatty. Their uncured pork is the stuff dreams are likely made of. And kudos to McSteven's for appropriate product placement. John Wayne's mug was spotted hawking bacon hot chocolate "A real man's drink". Bet we'd find that in the SNA gift shop.