Monday, January 30, 2017

Spicy, Sweet, Creamy, Crispy

By C.J. Hirschfield

Last week, two of Fairyland’s finest attended the 42nd Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. Featuring 1,400 exhibitors from around the world and “80,000 exciting specialty foods and beverages,” the event was not for the faint of heart – or stomach, for that matter, since samples are the name of the game.

One aisle in one of the halls at the Fancy Food show in Moscone Center.


Marguerite Mazzitti is in charge of Fairyland’s cafĂ© and espresso bar; Margaretann Fortner runs our birthday parties and sleepovers. What were they going to be looking for? For one, the perfect pizza. Also healthier and more natural options with less sugar and preservatives for both food and drink. And, of course, vintage and nostalgic items that tie in with our 1950s feel.

Marguerite and Margaretann said it took them four hours just to traverse one of the three halls. They were pleased to see our friends from Semifreddi’s Handcrafted Bread and Pastries, headquartered in Alameda. Semifreddi’s is a longtime supporter of our Gala.

I asked Marguerite and Margaretann about the trends they identified, and I’m happy to share them with you.

First, bacon is out. The flavors of birthday cake and sriracha hot sauce are most definitely in.

So we’re talking about birthday cake–flavored ice cream, popcorn, Rice Krispies treats, frozen yogurt and granola bars. Sriracha-flavored roasted chickpeas, trail mix, chips and spreads. Also, anything remotely associated with coconut: water, chips, bars, sugar and even vinegar.  And every sort of pickled veggie.

So what were our team’s favorites? For Marguerite, it was an “unsoda” soda with natural ingredients and less sugar. For Margaretann, it was roasted chickpeas, something she’d never tried before. They were both in agreement on the joys of birthday cake–flavored ice cream. And they both felt the need to eat lots of vegetables for dinner that night.

Marguerite (left) and Margaretann with some of the samples they brought back to Fairyland.


At last week’s staff meeting, we sampled of popcorn with birthday cake seasoning. The verdict: 3s and 4s out of 5. Future meetings will serve as testing sites for other products. Next week: pizza! We know the perfect one is out there somewhere…

We also hope that Fairyland can find a birthday-party drink with less sugar, a peanut butter substitute and perhaps some fun new products.

Will there be princess- and dinosaur-shaped pasta in Fairyland's future?

So on your next visit to Fairyland, if you notice princess- and dinosaur-shaped pasta, old-fashioned pinwheel lollipops, organic animal crackers and birthday cake–flavored marshmallows, you’ll have Marguerite, Margaretann and a magical visit to the Fancy Food Show to thank.

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C.J. Hirschfield has served for 14 years as executive director of Children's Fairyland, where she is charged with the overall operation of the nation's first storybook theme park.

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