We just got back from our whirlwind tour of Expo West, which essentially consisted of 3 days of non-stop sampling from 10am to 6pm. Our stomachs have simultaneously never been happier and hated us as much as they currently do.
Before we exit our version of Disneyland (AKA Heaven) and re-enter the real world tomorrow, we want to send our (gluten-free) hot takes on what we saw on the floors the last three days.
IF YOU PUFF IT, IT WILL SELL. We’ve never seen so many “puffs” in our lives. If you name it, someone was turning it into a puff. Vegetable puffs, fruit puffs, nut puffs, meat puffs, you name it. Some were the perfect balance of crispy and airy whereas some felt like they’d been hanging out in the Anaheim air a little too long, some tasted intriguingly spicy while others tasted like the air had puffed all their flavor off. Our favorite was Supereats Truffle and Rosemary Puffs (don’t allow their lack-luster brand name to mislead you).
MEALS ARE OVERRATED. EAT A SNACK. An overwhelming majority of the foods were snacks - bars, on-the-go nut butters, mini chip bags, etc. - a case in point that people these days think sitting down for a meal is overrated. We thrive on snacks more than the next girl, but were fairly sad how readily the industry seems to be promoting the lack of occasion-based eating. Our favorite snack was Soozy’s Sweet Potato Muffin.
GLUTEN-FREE IS A RULE, NOT AN EXCEPTION. Blair’s a Celiac, and never knew a heaven like this would exist where she could essentially assume every booth was gluten free. There were several times we asked a stand whether their product was gluten free (in the rare event it wasn’t prominently placed on their sign), and they’d respond like we’d asked them if they’d pumped their products with high fructose corn syrup. It did result in Blair eating too many samples, but not complaining. Our favorite gluten-free rendition of a non-GF staple was Capello’s GF Sheep’s Milk pizza, which has already converted several of our suspecting friends.
ANYTHING CAN BE JERKY-D. We never knew so many things could be turned into jerky, and also that there even was an affinity to have any food turned into a jerky. There was meat jerky, fruit jerky, vegetable jerky, and combination jerky. Honestly, we weren’t too much of a fan of most of them. We felt like we were the goldilocks of tasters - too chewy, not chewy enough. Direct quote from Jessica “it just weirds me out.”
THE FATTER THE BETTER. Healthy fats were such a norm that no one was pimpin’ the healthy fats in their products. Coconut oil by far was the star, integrated into sweet stuff, savory stuff, and even makeup remover towelettes (VitaCoco, you rule). Ghee was starting to make a more widespread debut as well. This is the hardest category for us to pick our favorite, but we’re going to have to go with Mud, which makes an INSANE vanilla coconut mousse (Jessica wouldn’t stop raving about it).
COWS ARE OUT, NUTS AND SEEDS ARE IN. Dairy was a rare find, despite the yogurts, milks, and cheeses that were literally EVERYWHERE. While Blair couldn’t be any more excited about dairy being “out” (she’s lactose intolerant), we found a lot of the replacements were VERY hit or miss (Ripple by far the biggest miss - their yogurt was extremely bitter). The dark horse winner was definitely Oatly, beautifully foamed into a latte. Yum.
Over the next couple days, we’ll share some more of our takeaways and insights from the trip. Next up will definitely be our favorite products, which we’ll share as we work our way through all the samples we were able to get our hands on!