The Fancy Food Show — probably the most enticingly named trade convention in America — is a biannual opportunity for makers of specialty foods to get their product in the hands of the retailers they hope will carry it in stores. Producers and importers of anything from caviar to gummi bears to energy bars set up booths in New York’s Javits Center and hawk their wares, trying to get passersby, who might work for QVC or Wegmans (it’s not open to the public), to try their all-natural lime-flavored seaweed snacks (which are always “The world’s best!”). You know how when you go to Costco on a weekend, there are free samples in every department? It’s 363,000 square feet of that. But fancy.
So maybe you get lost in this labyrinth of food and try to eat your way out as though you’re Hansel or Gretel, dropping crumbs of gluten-free caramel biscuits. Because items are not grouped by category, visitors might spend their day eating bites of lemon-marionberry ice cream alongside bison jerky, or rinsing some pumpkin pie pot de creme down with a sip of balsamic vinegar. It is the weirdest buffet you’ll ever line up for.
Still, when you see that many fancy foods, certain trends begin to emerge. Coconut is still in everything. Matcha continues to spread its green fairy dust into all of our edibles. But here are some other up-and-coming flavors and foods:
This spice is best known for its starring role in curry, but turmeric is finding its way into more and more foods this year, That’s partly because of its health benefits: Studies suggest that the golden-yellow spice can ward off cancers, inflammatory conditions, autoimmune problems and other ailments.
“I think it’s a pretty mild flavor that can mix with a lot of things,” said Mike Murray, brand manager for Living Intentions, a brand that makes a turmeric popcorn. Murray called it “one of nature’s greatest superfoods.”
Turmeric also popped up in tea (Rishi’s Turmeric Ginger Chai, Republic of Tea‘s biodynamic turmeric cinnamon tea), peanuts (Thai-turmeric chili nuts by Feridies), and chocolate (a ginger-turmeric dark milk bar by Vosges).
What, you’re still eating beige-colored hummus on your beige pita chips? Welcome to the future, where hummus is the vibrant fuschia of a thousand Instagrammers’ dreams. Brands with beet hummus included Fountain of Health and Eat Well Embrace Life. Other fresh applications for beets: Mucho Gazpacho‘s single-serve drinkable gazpacho, and Cerea beetroot and currant cereal bars.
But wait, there’s more! It is now possible to eat hummus as an appetizer, an entree and a dessert, which will make your last-minute I-forgot-what-to-bring-to-the-potluck panic buying a lot easier. A person could theoretically eat a three-course meal made entirely of hummus. Anyway, dessert hummuses (hummi?) are made with beans, but when they take on chocolate and other flavorings, it’s a little bit like eating a particularly fibrous pudding. You could have it with pita chips, or some wafery cookies. Lilly’s makes a chocolate hummus, and Delighted By has four flavors: brownie batter, snickerdoodle, orange ginger and chocolate chip.
Whole grain smoothies
The more things we put in smoothies, the closer I fear we get to Soylent territory. But we’re not there yet, thank goodness. Uji Smoothies have oats and millet, and they’re grainy but not aggressively so.
Any meal can be like a dinner at Minibar when all of your sauces and juices come in translucent orbs. Bio-Revival makes encapsulated globes of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and various fruit juices. If you want to have some really futuristic hot dogs at your next cookout, they also do ketchup and mustard. Or, you could get a device called the Spherificator and DIY yourself some globular sauces. If I ever buy one — they’re $150 — I’ll sphere so many things. Tequila! Pickle brine! Robitussin! The possibilities are endless.
Sauces for things you didn’t know needed sauces
For years, I’ve been missing out. Every morning, like a chump, I eat a cup of plain yogurt with some fruit, nuts, flaxseeds and/or granola. But until it was expressly marketed to me, I did not know that yogurt needed yogurt sauce. Blackberry Patch makes three flavors of yogurt toppings, which were described to me as being halfway between a syrup and a jam. There was also Chef Ido brand “finishing sauce,” which can be used for making beautiful swipes of color on your plates if you think you’re really fancy (or you can just use them as dip).
Beans in everything
Beans in pasta. Beans in brownies. This is the year of pulses, and food makers have taken that mandate to heart. Have you ever heard of “snacking beans,” for example? The brand Brami makes little vacuum-sealed packs of lupini beans in four flavors, including hot pepper and garlic and herb. They’re fresh, not dry, so they have an unexpectedly squishy texture. Pure Genius Provisions hides chickpeas in brownies and blondies, so you can trick yourself into eating more fiber while you nosh on junk food.
Espresso in a chocolate-coated ice cream cone
It’s adorable. Just look at it!