This year's show was larger than ever, with more than 1,450 exhibiting brands and more than 450 first-time vendors. In no particular order, here's my list of the top five gluten-free products I tried at this year's event (not all items are currently available in area stores), along with information about some other noteworthy items:
New Pop: The Original version of this skinless popcorn, one of three flavors from a New York-based upstart, reminds me of a less cloyingly sweet Sugar Smacks cereal made with corn instead of wheat. The skin on the corn kernels are peeled before being pressure popped, so there's nothing to get stuck between your teeth. A cup serving size is just 32 calories, but you'll want more - it's addicting. Each serving has 4 grams of fiber, zero grams of fat and just 3 grams of sugar. New Pop can be found at a few area markets, but mostly in the New York City area. The company also takes orders online.
Smashmallow: The creator of Krave jerky is behind this new line of premium snackable marshmallows. The treats are made with organic sugar and all natural ingredients, and range from 70-90 calories per serving. Smashmallow bites come in seven flavors, including Cinnamon Churro, Strawberries & Cream, Espresso Bean, Mint Chocolate Chip, Toasted Coconut Pineapple, Meyer Lemon Chia Seed and Root Beer Float.
Also worth a mention:
Wholesome Sweeteners: The maker of Surf Sweets gummy bears and jelly beans sampled its newest product: DelishFish, an organic version of Swedish Fish sweetened with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. The candy will begin appearing on store shelves in early 2017.
Blissful Baking: These kid-friendly cookies are both gluten and lactose free and made in a dedicated facility. Locally, they can be found at McCaffrey's Markets but also are distributed in more than a dozen states and online.
Julie's Organic: The company's popular gluten-free and organic ice cream sandwiches, long sold in cylinders, is now packaged in boxes.
Paqui: Probably the spiciest tortilla chip currently on the market, Paqui's Haunted Ghost Pepper flavor overwhelmed even the most iron-mouthed 13-year-old in our family. Next month the company releases a Carolina Reaper version to stores, sold as a single chip in a mini coffin. If you didn't know, the Carolina Reaper pepper is the hottest on the planet.
Dieffenbach's Potato Chips: This Berks County maker of One Potato Two Potato chips displayed packaging for a conceptual product called Uglies, kettle chips crafted from rejected potatoes with minor imperfections. The sea salt, BBQ and salt & vinegar-flavored chips will have brown edges and spots but be sold at a lower price point than the company's standard line. The company may bring Uglies to retail in 2017.