Saturday, July 19, 2008

Gluten-Free Does Not Mean Taste Free

Today I thought I would talk about something that is becoming increasingly more prominent when it comes to diet, health and lifestyle: gluten-free foods.

Just a couple of years ago, "gluten-free" used to be something that you would only find on packages in select health and natural food stores. Now, it seems that just about everyone is familiar with the term "gluten-free" or perhaps knows someone that is on a gluten-free diet, whether by choice or because they have an allergy to wheat or its derivatives. And now you can find gluten-free baking mixes, crackers and other products in a variety of retail locations, from groceries and convenience stores to coffee shops.

Why are gluten-free products and the gluten-free diet such an interest to me? Because our Cupola Cookies & Cupola Clouds just so happen to be made with ingredients that are naturally gluten-free. When we created the recipes for our baked goods, my mom and I didn't intentionally set out to create gluten-free products. We knew that we wanted to make things that were wholesome and nutritious, but the idea that our baked goods could possibly be considered "gluten-free" is a welcomed surprise. At the moment, we don't have "gluten-free" on our packaging because we intend to get certified/ recognized by an organization which will help us ensure that our products contain the minimal amount of gluten (those that have gluten-free status may contain a very minute amount, measured in parts per million). This is particularly important for those who have Celiac Disease.

Celiac Disease is defined by the Celiac Sprue Association as a genetic disorder in which eating certain types of protein, called gluten, sets off an autoimmune response that causes damage to the small intestine. Gluten is found in wheat, barely, rye and to some extent oats. People who have an allergy to gluten can become very, very ill if they consume anything with wheat or its derivatives.

For the past couple of months, I've been doing an extensive amount of research on gluten-free diets, Celiac disease and the pretty robust community that has formed around those who abide by a gluten-free diet.

While the number of gluten-free products out there is growing, the options are still somewhat limited. We think it would be great to add our Cupola Cookies and Cupola Clouds to the variety of foods that our gluten-free friends can enjoy.

We'll be sure to keep you updated on our quest for gluten-free status over the next couple weeks!

A couple of related links to check out if you want to find out more information about Celiac Disease or gluten-free products:

Celiac Sprue Association

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The 2008 Summer Fancy Food Show- Diary Style

One word to describe our experience at the Summer Fancy Food Show: SUBLIME. Before the show, we had hoped that we would be well received by attendees, but nothing quite like this.

Since I didn't have time to blog during the show like I planned, I thought it would be neat to do a snapshot of our show experience.

Friday June 27

10:00 a.m. Arrive at Javits Center in our van and start to unload our stuff by hand. I have never actually been inside the Javits Center and it is massive. The first floor where our booth is located is cavernous, much like an airplane hanger.

1:00 p.m. Successfully unloaded the contents of our van and have made our way to Brooklyn where we are staying at one of my best friend's apartment while we are in town. So much more affordable and comfortable than a teeny tiny hotel room in Manhattan.

3:00 p.m. I head back to the Javits Center to start setting up our booth while my mom, Theresa and my dad, who has accompanied us as a moral supporter and extra pair of hands, figure out how our signage will hang from our booth. Ah, logistics. I make a quick stop at Pinkberry for some delicious yogurt and raspberries.

5:00 p.m. After a couple more hours of setting up, I head to the West Village to meet up with some friends for dinner. Saturday is a big day- have got several meetings with distributors and retailers as part of NASFT's 1 to 1 Business Builders Program.

Saturday June 28

8:00 a.m. Back at The Javits. Ready for our meetings with potential distributors and retailers. This is a great opportunity to pitch our Cupola Cookies & Cupola Clouds to some of the specialty food industry's best.

11:00 a.m. Go back to our booth to help my parents finish setting up. Impressed with the ingenious, Macgyver-like method they have come up with to hang our signs.

4:45 p.m. Done for the day! Tomorrow is the official first day of the show, which will be attended by distributors, retailers, brokers, individuals in food service and members of the press.

Sunday July 29

10:00 a.m. The show has begun- hurrah!

1:00 p.m. I think they like us! I mean, they like our Cupola Cookies and Clouds. At the show, each person has a badge. If an attendee is interested in a particular company or product, they can ask to have their badge scanned by exhibitors. Our badge scanner has been working quite a bit today, which is a good sign.

I could go on, but to spare you from eye strain, Monday and Tuesday's events followed suit very similarly to Sunday's events.

The Today Show coverage we received encouraged even more attendees to visit our booth, since they were really curious about our Cupola Clouds!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Debuting At The Summer Fancy Food Show

Hello all! As we speak, I am writing from my friend's lovely apartment in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, where we have been staying as we exhibit at the 2008 Summer Fancy Food Show in New York.

We received some wonderful national media coverage from the WEEKEND TODAY SHOW while we've been here exhibiting!

We were lucky to have been selected as one of just a couple products to be highlighted in a show segment that aired this past Sunday, June 29th called "The Next Big Food Fad."

This is the last day of the show, and I don't think there will ever be enough time for me to blog about the whole experience, but I am going to try and provide some highlights- this was definitely one of the most interesting, fulfilling, exhausting and worthwhile experiences I have ever had. Although we have been working in the specialty food/ natural food market for the past year now and I have been doing lots of research and studying, this trade show has been an incredible resource for us- we have made numerous business contacts and have had the chance to showcase our product among some of the best in the world!

I tell you though, I have a new found respect for anyone working at trade shows in any capacity. Heck, even attending a show the size of the Fancy Food Show in NY is a challenge! The Javits Center is a massive space.

I am going to do a follow up post with more details about our show experience later this week, but suffice it to say that so far, we have been having a very exciting, productive and delicious time here in NY!