business news in context, analysis with attitude

Okay, yesterday we used this space to point out that some manufacturers at this year's Food Marketing Institute (FMI) show in Chicago weren't as innovative and inspired as we'd like them to be. But not everybody fell into that trap…and we've compiled the following list of the Best-Tasting Items we consumed at FMI, as well as across the hall at the Fancy Food Show.

    1. By far, the best thing we tasted and the single best product idea we saw at the show was "Margarita In A Bag," which has margarita mix in a large bag that looks like a clear hot water bottle. There are lines drawn on the side to tell you how much tequila, triple sec, and water to add - and then you shake it up and stick it in the freezer for about six hours. The margaritas that result are cold and refreshing, and the packaging can't be beat. (You can find out more about this product at

    2. One of our favorite restaurants in the country is Etta's Seafood in Seattle, created by the estimable Tom Douglas. Now, Douglas has come out with a line of chicken, pork, and salmon rubs and beer-based barbecue sauces that are stupendous. (You can learn more at

    3. We didn’t expect to like Kim & Scott's Gourmet Pretzels when we spied them from across the aisle -- and then we tasted the stuffed apple cinnamon pretzel and the stuffed mozzarella pizza pretzel…and just plain salt and mustard may never do again. (Check them out at

    4. We've tried them before, and they've remained one of our favorite cookies: Brent & Sam's Key Lime White Chocolate cookies, part of a line of gourmet cookies that are as good as they get. This one happens to be the best key lime cookie we've ever tasted…and we love key lime cookies. (For more info, try

    5. The folks at Surebeam, the company that has revolutionized the irradiation business, were out there sampling hamburgers made from irradiated ground beef -- and they were just fine. What made them even better was the ketchup being served -- Ketchipotle, Ketchapeño, and Ketchonfire, three wonderfully spicy ketchups that complemented the burger beautifully. (You can find out more about these ketchups at

    6. The Content Kids (as they hate to be called) love Smorz cereal from Kellogg's. We have to buy two or three boxes a week just to keep it in stock, and now the cereal manufacturer has come with one we think the kids will like just as much - Cinnamon Krunchers, which happens to feature icon Tony the Tiger on the box (perhaps his first appearance on a box other than Frosted Flakes). Good stuff.

    7. There's a company called New Tree Chocolates that was peddling some pretty good tasting chocolate candy that is said to include certain properties that encourage certain feelings: "Bliss," "Vigor," "Pure Pleasure." We liked them a lot, and only question whether the chocolate called "Slender" really makes you thin. In fact, according to the company, it just improves digestion. We guess "Regular" wouldn't have been a good name for a chocolate bar. (Check it out at

    8. We were fairly critical yesterday of how Ben & Jerry's ice cream was being sold at the show, and how the presentation seemed to devalue the brand. That said, the company does have a terrific new flavor this year - an Oatmeal Cookie Chunk Ice Cream that is just out of this world…and too good to relegate to the same status as the company's Good Humor line.

    9. The Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, is where Buffalo Chicken Wings were invented…and now the bar is bringing to national distribution its own line of bottled wing and barbecue sauces. Yummy! (Find out more at

    10. Uh-Oh Oreos (vanilla on the outside and chocolate in the middle), and Cherry Cheese Cake Fig Newtons were new approaches to age-old products -- and they actually were pretty good. The latter was a little sweet for us, but our kids will love it.

That's the list -- highly subjective, but each one worth a taste.

KC's View: