My daughter has been wanting to go to this show ever since we attended the spectacular Expo West show in Anaheim in March 2012. The Baltimore show is much smaller, but nevertheless, a lot of fun and exhausting. I concentrated my efforts on finding unique companies that might need my marketing communications services, as well as looking for artisanal potato chips and honey. I also was determined to pick up some samples of Vitamin D and goat soap. Admittedly, potato chips and honey have always been two of my favorite indulgences, I was recently diagnosed with a low Vitamin D level, and I have been on a goat product kick for a while.
I was delighted to find the Original Saratoga Chips booth, especially when I saw the Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar Chips. I am always on the lookout for unique flavors in kettle chips. Rachelle Boff and Keith Snovely were very nice and gave me a full size bag of the original chips. This is indeed America’s original kettle chip with a fascinating history dating back to 1853. I hope they expand and start selling these delicious chips in the Midwest. This chip gets my vote for the best of show in this category. Second place goes to One Potato Two Potato for their kettle chips and cute name.
Nature Nate’s Natural – that is a mouthful to say, had wonderful raw honey products and super cool t-shirts. Mark McGinnis, Deb Corley, and Robert Turner were very nice and gave me a 16-ounce size of Raw and Unfiltered Honey and one of those cool t-shirts. Among quite a few honey companies, this is the one that stood out for me. Unfortunately, their products are not sold in my area, at least not yet.
The nicest person I met by far was an Amish farmer named Amos Miller. Naturally, I did not ask to take his picture, since that goes against Amish beliefs. He was incredibly nice and we chatted for at least 30 minutes about his products and Amish communities throughout the U.S. Amos is the proprietor of Misty Creek Goat Dairy in Leola, in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Amos had lovely handmade bars of goat milk soap in milk & honey, mint, lavender, and herb, as well as other goat milk beauty products. Each bar of the 3-ounce soap contains at least an ounce and a half of goat milk. His goods were in a larger distributor booth that carried other Amish-made products including delicious honey and cheeses. He gave me at least six bars of full-size soap and a few other sample products. The second day, Amos waved to me as I walked by and I stopped in briefly to say hello – what a genuinely delightful man.
I was surprised to learn that the President of Earth Friendly Products, the company that makes my favorite natural dish detergent, lives in a North Shore suburb. I chatted for a long time with the friendly young man working his booth and then had a chance to meet John Vlahakis himself. The young man was willing to give me as many full-size products as I wanted, but I simply could not carry them. The new product line called Earthy, which is a little more upscale, features gorgeous artwork on some of its labels.
Although I was not seeking this out, I was impressed with the e-cloth product line. I had a chat with Brigitte Laurence about how cleaning glass is a huge personal pet peeve. I have long bemoaned how difficult it is to clean glass properly without getting streaks or smear marks – whether glass in a picture frame, my car windshield, or my rather large bathroom mirror. She gave me an assortment of intriguing products to try at home.
The coolest product labels in the show had to be those on Bone Doctors’ Barbecue Sauce. With a moniker like that, it was not hard to guess that these guys are orthopedic surgeons. The tag line is cute – the Cure for the Common Barbecue.
DiBella Baking Company had the most delicious biscotti I have ever tasted, and it didn’t break my teeth. The consistency was actually reminiscent of Jewish mandel bread that I ate in my youth. Biting into one of these delectable biscotti brought back a flood of nostalgic memories. Kent Collins generously offered to give me full size products, but I simply could not carry them, so settled for two single samples, which I sadly consumed a few weeks ago.
Jeff makes a mean beef jerky, so I was curious to try some high-end jerky products. There were quite a few companies, so it was hard to choose a favorite, but I picked three that stood out. The New Primal is the most commercial and widely available throughout the U.S. – I saw it at just about every grocery and health food store while in NYC, and many stores in Chicagoland carry it. I also really liked Country Archer All Natural Jerky from San Bernardino, Calif. And perhaps the most creative was Cowboy Coffee from Triple R Farms in York, Pa. You can get a kick of caffeine with this delicious all natural jerky. The only problem with the latter is that it has a very short shelf life. The two full-size sealed packages I got were full of fuzzy white mold when I opened them at the end of November – my fault for waiting too long to eat them.
Other than tasting a lot of interesting treats, I had my nails done by a delightful young lady, although the end results were pretty bad. I also had an aggressive salesman grab me and place a TENS therapy device on my arm – the darn thing hurt and I had a red mark on my arm for 15 minutes. While I did not pick up any new clients, attending the Expo was an eye-opening, savory experience that delighted most of my senses.