NEW YORK — From salad dressings to chocolate-covered potato chips to bread made with beer and beer without alcohol, the International Fancy Food and Confection Show tickled the palate and pounced on the pockets of industry gourmands.
The four-day gourmet paradise at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, which opened Sunday, exhibited more than 8,000 products for sampling, notation or purchase by fine-food addicts.
The trade show caters to specialty food purveyors, attracts international connoisseurs and pits young producers against industry giants for the dollars of buyers from such stores as Macy's and Bloomingdale's.
Because consumers are leaning more toward gourmet foods, "a lot of companies are entering the business to satisfy this ever-increasing demand," said Jim McGilloway, president of the National Assn. for the Specialty Food Trade, the organization sponsoring the event.
"Domestic manufacturers are . . . marketing products that are healthy, wholesome and convenient," he added.
Well, some of these confections can result in more than an ounce of paunch.
Imagine a craving for something salty, something sweet and something ever-so-decadent and you might go for Hollis Savin's gourmet success, Chips au Chocolat--chocolate-covered potato chips.
The elite treat had humble beginnings when Savin and her husband were about to entertain.
"I just couldn't serve potato chips to my yuppie friends," Savin explained, so she dipped the salty snack in chocolate and collected both raves and dividends.
"It's been selling like hotcakes," says Savin, who heads her own Wisconsin company, Yuppie Gourmet Inc.
Total sales after only 16 months on the market recently surpassed $1 million, she said.
Her newest weapon against mundane munchies is Puffs au Praline, billed as lighter-than-air butter-and-caramel corn puffs with either macadamia-pecan or cashew-almond pralines.
If your fancy leans more toward salads, you may choose to dress it with a California line called Cuisine Perel.
The dressing, created by Sylvia Perel, mixes relishes, marinades, mustards and sauces blended with chenin blanc, chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon wine.
She says she and her husband, Leonardo, who emigrated from Argentina with their children, started the company in 1982 using wine, fresh fruit and natural ingredients. The line is devoid of artificial flavors, colorants, salt or sugar.
The show offers a variety of wines, from France's chardonnays to Italy's non-alcoholic spumante, Toselli, which captured the NASFT Product Award for the best-tasting beverage. Toselli is billed as the only beverage conditioned from the start without alcohol and contains about half the calories of champagne or wine.
An alcohol-free beer from Switzerland was advertised as having fewer calories than light beer.
If you prefer beer in your bread, there are all-natural Dassant Beer Bread Mixes, which require no measuring, no kneading and no rising time.