Who: VN Editorial Assistant Anna Peraino and the entire VN team
What: Natural Products Expo West 2011
Where: Anaheim, Calif.
When: March 11-13, 2011
Why: To find out about this year's best new vegan products, of course!
The Scoop: I had heard what I thought were tall tales of the food, beverage, and natural product Mecca that is Expo West, but to be quite honest, I didn't believe it. Boy, was I wrong. Imagine a grocery store multiplied by 50, filled with hundreds of thousands of people, and throw in millions of skillets, slow cookers, and toothpicks, and you have Expo West. The booths were massive (So Delicious' booth was not only two stories tall but also had a Nintendio Wii), the food and drinks were never-ending (think vegan quesadillas, pizza, 10 kinds of peanut butter, and Gardein galore in just one section of one of the 50 football field-long aisles), and the people were everywhere (The Spork Girls! Jillian Michaels! Fabio!).
So Delicious' two-story booth: one of many behemoths
Most of the VegNews team flew down on Thursday afternoon, and the weekend only got crazier from there. The days were filled with taste testing new products (chocolate walnut brownie ice cream, pizza, and orange sugar-covered marshmallow Dandies were three of the thousands), picking our 2011 Best of Show winners (want to know who we picked? Make sure to check out our May+June issue!), and catching up with friends. The craziness didn't stop there: with dinners at Native Foods Café (my burger consisted of a heap of seitan, Daiya cheddar cheese, tempeh bacon, BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, and fried pickle chips) and The Veggie Grill, it seemed like we never stopped eating. Well, to be fair, we didn't.
Native Food Café's Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger. Be jealous.
I'd like to sign off saying it was all fun and tasting spoons, but I'd be lying. A blackout at our hotel (waking up to a room full of lights at 4am? Jarring) and a two and a half-hour delay on our way home were definitely both unexpected (and quite unwelcome), but all in all, it was an awesome and completely exhausting weekend. Want more Expo West dish? Check out our Facebook album for pics, stories, and finds!