On May 21, the editors of FaveGlutenFreeRecipes and AllFreeSlowCookerRecipes attended two lively trade shows at the McCormick Place in Chicago: the National Restaurant Association (NRA) 2013 and the Sweets & Snacks Expo. Overwhelming would be an understatement; both shows were put on a grand scale, which was a good thing for the two of us. We wandered through the exhibits on the hunt for marketing representatives and, more importantly, free samples. Our goal at these shows was to see, hear, and taste all new trends in both the restaurant business and the candy world.
At the NRA show, we were happy to find a plethora of different companies, both large and small. We were able to meet and chat with sale representatives from a multitude of well-known corporations such as Ferrero, Jennie-O, Idaho Potato Board, Coke, and Wisconsin Cheese Board. 78 Red, Leo’s Gluten Free, Teaspoon Willies, and Grillbot were some of the smaller companies that we were privileged to meet with; they had a lot of great ideas about the future of food.
Of course, almost every booth had a sample they were excited to share with us. Nutella made us crepes. Coke showcased touch-screen soda machines; they’ve been rolling out these new machines in restaurants. Gourmet Souffle made us the world’s first instant souffles. I had a bottle of Half-and-Half Soda from Spindrift, which is a smaller company that only uses freshly squeezed juices for their beverages. We noticed a lot of different kale and gluten free products at many of the exhibits. Other trends that we noted were Italian foods, BBQ sauces, fruit-flavored snacks and drinks, and hummus. Many different companies were also showing off their apps to make restaurant service easier such as apps for reservations and hostess services.
Sweets & Snacks Expo
After spending the morning eating everything from gyros to cheese, we headed to the Sweets and Snacks Expo. This sugar rush of a trade show was very fun to walk around; it was wall to wall snacks and candy in every shape, size and flavor you could think of.
On the candy side, there were booths from Nestle, Mars, Necco, Tootsie Roll, Pez, and Hershey’s…and hundreds more. Representing the snacks part of the expo, there were companies such as Utz, Pop Chips, and Skinny Pop. We also visited the exhibits of Scripture Candy, Fudgie Wudgie, iheartkeenwah, and Shelia G’s Brownie Brittle. Every type of snack or sweet you could imagine was there.
Of course, we ate as many samples as our bodies would allow here, too. Spicy snacks (and candy too) were all over the place; we tried out Cracker Jack’D Intense Mix Buffalo Ranch, which definitely lived up to its spicy name. A wide range of candy companies unveiled their mini, bite-sized snacks, including Starburst Minis. Another emerging trend we spotted were snacks and candies featuring nontraditional ingredients. Seapoint Farms had samples of their Edamame Crunch Chocolate Bars. We tried fun-flavored mints from VerMints (i.e. Chia) and tested new Tic-Tac Strawberry Mints. Skittles also rolled out its new Darkside flavors, which includes Pomegranate, Dark Berry, and Blood Orange.
With all these new opportunities and leads, be sure to be on the look out for many new giveaways from your favorite sites like RecipeLion, AllFreeCasseroleRecipes, AllFreeCopycatRecipes, and FaveHealthyRecipes as well as AllFreeSlowCookerRecipes and FaveGlutenFreeRecipes.
Right now, we are giving away a stuffed swag bag, filled with many of the wonderful sweets, snacks, and food from the companies mentioned above and more! One lucky winner (selected at random) will be shipped a bag full of delicious morsels from our adventures at these two trade shows. Simply comment below to enter! You must enter by June 7, 2013.
If you could eat one candy for the rest of your life, what would it be?