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Some Like It Hot: 2016 Summer Fancy Food Show Trends


The Summer Fancy Food Show flew by once again in a flurry of gourmet popcorn, sparkling water, and, of course, cheese. For the uninitiated, the Fancy Food Show is a three-day trade extravaganza for the specialty food industry, drawing nearly 50,000 professionals from around the globe and featuring almost 200,000 products. Here are some trends spotted over the 72 hours by the culture crew.

Spicy Cheese

There were a ton of hot cheeses on offer at the Summer Fancy Food Show, and we don’t just mean trendy curds—culture staffers spotted wedges and wheels flavored with everything from sririacha (Sriracha Gouda from Emmi Roth USA) to harissa (Arthur Schuman Inc.’s new line of flavored fontinas) to ghost peppers (some mouth-scorching curds from the Wisconsin Cheese booth, plus Kindred Creamery Ghost Pepper Colby Jack). Plymouth Artisan Cheese (who already produced a Hot Pepper variety) took it a step further by introducing Sambal, a cheese flavored with the spicy Southeast Asian relish.

Chipped Everything

Pick an ingredient, any ingredient, and we’ll bet it was featured as some sort of chip at this year’s Fancy Food. There were new twists on the classic wheat cracker (Pasta Chips, Matzo Project Crisps), chips made out of fruit and (sea) vegetables (Gimme Organic Seaweed Chips, Rhythm Superfood Beet Chips), and new gluten-free offerings (Saffron Road Lentil Chips, plus cheese crisps galore). 34 Degrees even ventured into dessert-cracker territory with new chocolate and vanilla varieties (try the former with a smear of fresh chèvre).

Feel-Good Tonics

To cure all that ails you, just have a sip (or so they say). Low-calorie beverages that boast numerous health benefits were all the rage at Fancy Food, edging out more traditional, sugar-laden sodas. In need of some antioxidants? Reach for one of the many bottled teas on offer, especially color-saturated matcha from Motto and Meta Matcha. Stomachache? Swig some drinking vinegar (we tried Fire Cider and Live Sparkling Drinking Vinegars) or bitters-tinged sparkling water from Sparkling Bitters.

Maple Madness

Maple water made its debut last year and continues to be a hit—but another sugaring product took the spotlight this year: smoked maple syrup. We found it at several booths (Runamok, Crown Maple) where it was recommended as a cocktail stir-in or bacon glaze (yes, please). Syrup aged in whiskey and/or rum barrels also made an appearance at many a maple booth, as did unique sweetener options like April’s Maple Spicy Maple Sugar.

Dairy-Free “Ice Cream”

Many of the ice cream booths we saw weren’t ice cream at all, but non-dairy frozen desserts. Most used coconut milk as a base (Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss, Revolution Gelato, Jawea Frozen Desserts, Little Baby’s Ice Cream), while others opted for a more popsicle-y vibe sans creamy ingredients, like Goodpop’s All-Natural Frozen Pops. However, we still prefer the real deal, and discovered several new tantalizing flavors, including those in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s new line of exceptionally tangy buttermilk frozen yogurts.

Rebecca Haley-Park

Rebecca Haley-Park is culture's Editor and resident stinky cheese cheerleader. A native New Englander, she holds a BFA in creative writing from University of Maine at Farmington.