A Random Sampling of Offerings From the Summer Fancy Food Show

A peek inside the goodie bag we smuggled out of the Convention Center.

Swag central: An embarrassment of riches from the Fancy Food Show. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

The 58th Summer Fancy Food Show has taken over the Convention Center through tomorrow. The press release proudly boasts of 2,220 exhibitors from 80 countries, including almost two dozen companies that are based in DC, Maryland, or Virginia. While the show is aimed particularly at the industry—people who own restaurants, stores that sell food and wine—it is open to a number of people who qualify for credentials, including journalists. How could I resist literally acres of food? I spent much of my time wandering among the booths trying to spot trends, which included enough different mineral waters to float an ocean liner, coconut in a multitude of presentations, honey, gluten-free everything, and olive oil in abundance, including in ice cream, frozen Greek yogurt, figs, and sea salt.

My other pursuit was to see how many free samples I could snag as a random representation of what goes on at the Fancy Food Show. Some exhibitors were eager to share; some had to be begged. Ironically, as I departed the Convention Center, security tried to confiscate my bag of samples—think TSA’s attitude toward a bottle of water. Fortunately, I had a good excuse (“It’s for a story”), and I was permitted to leave with my loot.

Here’s what was in the bag:

• A tiny bag of Great Emperor jasmine rice from Thailand

• A red pen from Austria

• A small jar of French mustard from Clovis

• A teensy bottle of Colavita olive oil

• A flashing Virginia Is for Lovers pin

• Honey roasted chipotle peanuts from the Peanut Roaster in Henderson, North Carolina

• One salted caramel chocolate and two Courvoisier chocolates from Bissinger’s of St. Louis

• Snapple Jelly Belly jelly beans in a 0.3-ounce bag

• 0.3 ounces of “Slap Ya Mama” Cajun seasoning (hot blend) from Walter & Son

• One Sanders Fine Chocolates dark chocolate coconut supreme

• A little plastic fish filled with soy sauce from Little Soya

• A 0.6-ounce bottle of Underberg’s digestive bitters, “to feel bright and alert.”

• A bag of of coconut extract from Bumas of Singapore

• A bag of Cinnabon almonds

• A banana bar from Bananko of Zagreb

• Gluten-free wild cherry gummies from Indie Candy of Mountain Brook, Alabama

• A box of fresh baklava and osh al bolbol from Subhi Jabri & Sons of Amman, Jordan

• A small cake made from Calamondin citrus fruit—“America’s new flavor”—from the Calamondin Cafe of Ft. Myers, Florida

• A ceramic logo mug from Moorenko’s ice cream of Silver Spring

• A two-inch square of mature cheddar cheese from Cathedral City of Surrey, England

• A 3-ounce bag of pistachios from Setton of Terra Bella, California

• A 1.5-ounce bag of Asiago cheese straws from J&M Foods of Little Rock

• A 0.5-ounce bag of Haribo mini gummi bears

• Five pieces of saltwater taffy from Taffy Town

• A bottle of Marble Pop “blueberry carbonated drink” from Japan

• Spinach balls with dill dip from the Spinach Ball Company of Fremont, Indiana

• A small plastic container of “s’mores mix” from Mama Mellace’s

• A teensy coffee candy from Sant’Eustachio Caffe, Rome

• Assorted caramels from Mouth Party of Baltimore

• Two Jacob’s cream crackers

• A plastic-wrapped toothpick from the Samurai company

• A piece of shortbread from Heritage Shortbread

• A pin that says “Fearless” from Fearless Chocolate

There were a few more items, but you get the idea. Perhaps after reading the inventory you can understand why I listed “Fearless” last. A couple of hours at the Fancy Food Show requires courage, good shoes, and a strong stomach.