Spotted on Shelves is showing off what was in the aisles at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show (FFS) in New York City. I scoped out new products from familiar brands and interesting things from up-and-coming companies.
As is the nature of trade shows like this, I was plied with free samples and the occasional tote bag. This did not affect what was chosen to appear in this column or my opinions of the products, but it did affect my waistline.
One of the trends at FFS was sparkling and carbonated drinks. Sodas and waters are evolving — taking on new flavors and ingredients.
Dry Zero Sugar Sodas (Cola, Peach Tea, Mountain Berry and Island Fruit)
These tasted like a cross between a flavored seltzer and a traditional soda. There are no artificial colors, so they are all clear. The cola flavor was lighter than a Coke/Pepsi and slightly spicy. Available now in grocery, big box stores and Amazon.
Gus One-Drink Cocktail Mixers (Mojito, Sparkling Cosmo, Moscow Mule and Tonic & Lime)
These are marketed as mixers to add to your alcohol of choice to make a cocktail, but I thought these were great on their own. The standout here was the Mojito – mint isn’t a common soda flavor, and it’s well-done here. Available now in select grocery stores and specialty retailers.
Töst tasted a bit like a grown-up ginger ale. It’s described as a non-alcoholic drink for celebrations – to me that means “for when you don’t feel like drinking, but don’t want to take flak from your hard-partying friends.” Handy.
Large bottles available now in gourmet, specialty shops and select Whole Foods in New England, single-serve bottles launched this week, hitting stores soon.
O.Vine Wine Grape Infused carbonated waters
I’m not a big wine drinker. I’ll take a good soda over wine any day. These wine grape infused waters were a middle ground between the two. The flavor was light and bright, but wasn’t just a watered-down wine.
Availability TBD – these were prototypes for testing at the show.
Just Craft Sodas (Pear and Vanilla, Apple and Ginger, Lemon and Lemongrass, Peach and Habanero, and Tangerine and Rhubarb)
This Canadian brand’s Peach Habanero flavor stood out to me. Hmm. Spicy soda? That’s new to me. It was an interesting experience – the heat hit fast with medium strength, but vacated the area quickly, which I liked. It was a self-contained sweet/hot with each sip.
Available now in select grocery chains and Cost Plus World Market.
Element Shrub & Club Sparkling Vinegar Drinks (Honeydew Jalapeno, Pineapple Turmeric, Lemon Mint, Blood Orange Saffron, and Cranberry Hibiscus)
Sparkling vinegar drink. I was a skeptic. Then I tried them, and I was still a skeptic. While they were pleasant, and the vinegar was much less prominent than I expected, these were just a bit too savory for my taste.
But if you remember and loved Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray (celery-flavored) soda, these vinegar drinks will be right up your alley. They’re tangy, a little sweet with a hint of earthiness/vegetables.
Available online now, regional retailers soon.
Pocas Ginger Brew (Original Ginger, Ginger Mango Turmeric, Ginger Apple Moringa, Ginger Pineapple Ginseng, and Ginger Calamansi Mojito)
I found these ginger ales ten minutes before the show closed – while boxes were being swiftly packed and subtle tasting and discussion were not on the menu. The mysterious ingredients moringa and calamansi (which I will address in later posts) drew my attention, but in general these had a good level of ginger and interesting combinations of fruits and/or “superfoods.”
Available online and Amazon soon, regional Northeast retail outlets afterwards.