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THE NIBBLE Launches First Outstanding Artisan Awards

Specialty Food Magazine Honors 11 Artisan Producers
For Innovation And Quality


December 8, 2008, New York — Specialty food is a $45 billion industry; yet 80% of the producers are small companies, reporting under $1 million in sales. Many are “mom and pop” businesses that take in far less than that. Some 10,000 of these small businesses operate nationally; while some capture the brass ring and get good national distribution in specialty food stores and upscale chains like Wegman’s and Whole Foods Market, most never sell beyond their local area and to customers who find their websites. One of the missions of THE NIBBLE specialty food magazine is to seek out the best small producers that most consumers—and retailers—would never discover on their own. The best of the best of them can now be recognized with a new industry award: THE NIBBLE Outstanding Artisan Award, which has just been bestowed upon the first group of small specialty food producers.

“These are artisans who craft a great product, made of the best ingredients and with a superior taste,” stated Karen Hochman, founder and editorial director of THE NIBBLE. “But they are also entrepreneurs who started a business because there was nothing else like it. They love what they do—and they have to, because they work endless hours for modest compensation and little recognition. THE NIBBLE Outstanding Artisan Awards is our way of providing them with some.”

The winners for 2008 include:

  • Chokola’j founder Susan Kennedy, an artisan chocolatier committed to organic and local ingredients
  • Cool Beans founders Matt and Mark Fitzgerald, brothers who whipped up a nutritious white bean dip one day when the larder was otherwise bare
  • Fizzy Lizzy’s Liz Morrill, a pioneer in the sparkling juice category, who mixed juice with club soda to drink on her bike rides
  • Holly’s Oatmeal’s Holly DiMauro, a restaurateur who blended the whole-grain cereal for her customers when she couldn’t find a product in the marketplace
  • Peeled Snacks’ Noha Waibsnaider, who envisioned the grab-and-go dried fruit and nut snack when she couldn’t buy a nutritious, preservative-free snack at a deli or convenience store
  • Pestos With Panache founder Lauren Stewart, whose creative interpretations of classic Italian pesto enable gourmet meals in minutes
  • Popchips founder Keith Belling, who introduced the first line of “popped” potato chips, a lower fat, lower calorie, great-tasting alternative to fried chips
  • Rick’s Picks’ Rick Fields, a master of artisan pickled vegetables in innovative brines
  • Ruby et Violette’s Heather Sue Mercer, who, with her two sisters, bought a beloved specialty chocolate chip cookie business and made it even better with her own brownies and ice cream
  • SuperSeedz, flavored pumpkin seeds made by mom Kathie Rosenschein, who was looking for a healthy snack for her kids
  • Wine Cellar Sorbet, brilliant wine-based sorbets created by friends Bret Birnbaum and David Zablocki instead of opening their wine bar

The products are all natural and, with the obvious exception of the chocolates, cookies and brownies, are better-for-you products.

  • Rick’s Picks pickled vegetables are sugar-free, salt-free and low-calorie.
  • Holly’s Oatmeal is so high in whole grain that just one serving is almost your entire daily whole grain requirement (it has 38g of 48g RDV).
  • Fizzy Lizzy is a lower-calorie, lower-sugar alternative to soft drinks or straight juice.
  • Cool Beans is a healthy dip similar to hummus, that will be especially appreciated by people who don’t like the exotic flavor of the tahini in hummus. They, along with Pestos With Panache, offer versatility far beyond dips.
  • Peeled Snacks, Popchips and SuperSeedz are grab-and-go snacks to which a nutritionist can give the thumbs up.
  • Wine Cellar Sorbet is an exquisite dairy-free, fat-free, lower-calorie alternative to ice cream.
  • Even Chokola'j and Ruby et Violette can be seen as better for you, under the interpretation that, for the same calories, you should eat chocolates, cookies and brownies made with the very best ingredients.

All of the winners were prior NIBBLE Top Picks Of The Week. “We love all of our Top Picks, of course,” said Hochman, “but these we actually spend our own money on and keep buying week after week, long after the review has been published.”

Each winner received a booth at the Tastings NYC Gourmet Food Show in New York City, where they were able to present their products to a large foodie audience and meet members of the press. They also received a trophy creatively adapted from specialty water company Aquadeco’s 750ml glass spring water bottle (“It’s very impressive—the glass bottle analog to an Academy Award,” says Hochman). An engraved plate was strung around the neck of the bottle with a red silk cord.

Click on the links above to read more about these outstanding specialty foods.


THE NIBBLE™, “Great Food Finds,” is an online magazine about specialty foods and the gourmet life. It is the only consumer publication and website that focuses on reviewing the best specialty foods and beverages in every category. THE NIBBLE staff tastes more than 3,000 specialty foods every year and chooses a few hundred “best of the best” for review in the online magazine. The editors’ Top Pick Of The Week is e-mailed to opt-in subscribers. The magazine also covers gourmet housewares and other topics of interest to people who love fine food. The monthly magazine, featuring dozens of product reviews, articles and reference materials, was developed to meet the demands of readers—and to meet a gap in the consumer marketplace—for more extensive information about specialty foods. Content, which is free of charge, is also available via RSS and at Twitter.com/TheNibble, and is archived on TheNibble.com for permanent reference. There is also a daily news feed at Blog.TheNibble.com.

Media Contact:
Steve Brennen


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