Sleek and sexy. Not what I expected. The first batch of entries we received this week for our annual sofi Awards contest boasts several gorgeous glass bottles with curves in just the right places.
Vinegar stands tall in a clear glass bottle shaped like an ancient Greek urn. The tiny label allows the product’s deep russet hue to stand out and invite. Then there’s a yummy looking baking mix packed in a jolly, rotund, and huggable clear glass jar, stripes of flour and sugar and powdered chocolate in plain sight. Many great olive oils come in great bottles, and this year’s batch of submissions look particularly curvy and good.
Even pasta has panache. One pasta package entered for a 2009 sofi Award for Outstanding Pasta, Rice or Grain, is so lovely it could easily be a gift. It surely must stand out amid the typical mix of pastas at a specialty food store. “It invites you to want to take it,” says Bruce Tanner, a member of our sofi team here at the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. Shelf appeal, of course, is an important ingredient in specialty food merchandising.
The sofi Awards, now in their 37th year, are the Oscars of the Specialty Food Industry. They recognize excellence in 33 categories of foods and beverages. Gold winners are selected from more than 2,000 entries. Next Thursday, April 9, is the deadline for the first part of this year’s contest. Then a national panel of specialty food experts will descend on our offices on Wall Street to sample the entries and select finalists in each category. Those finalists will be judged again at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York to determine the winners of the coveted sofi Gold award. The award is a chef statue that looks like an Oscar. It weighs 4.5 pounds. I know. I helped hand them out last year.