Thursday, January 23, 2014

The value of bloggers: Am I worth a gingerbread man?

Sometimes I get a news story out of the Fancy Food Show, and it's always worth going. This year, though, all I got was this anecdote.

The Fancy Food Show is where the food industry shows its wares to buyers. If your local grocery store starts selling grapefruit sage kombucha* or tuna-stuffed peppers from Indonesia, a buyer for the store may have tasted a sample at this annual event.

(* All food products mentioned in this post are real)

The event is divided into two halls, one mostly American and the other mostly imports. The contrast seemed greater than usual this year. All the new American food products are dried junk foods purported to be healthy: crunchy chocolate chickpeas, or sugar-free chocolate brownies sweetened with monk fruit.

As soon as I wandered to the import side, I walked into the Spain exhibit and a man handed me a piece of chorizo. "There's only four ingredients in that," he said, and he could name them.

Anyway, I was wandering around the American side, not seeing anything I wanted in my mouth -- no, wait, let me back up and tell you about my press badge.

As you know, being a loyal reader, I am the reigning World's Best Wine Writer. The friendly Fancy Food Show media folks don't have a category for that. However, I fit a lot of other media categories: Freelance writer. Magazines. Online. Newspapers.

When I first attended the Fancy Food Show, I went as a staff member of the San Francisco Chronicle. I found myself getting way too much attention. Generally, I like being anonymous at trade fairs, so I don't have to talk about your lavender martini mocktails unless I'm really interested.

So this year I chose "Blogger" as my profession on my press badge. For one thing, it's true. Look at this, I'm blogging right now! And that wouldn't give anyone any unreasonable expectations about the media acclaim that might ensue if I like their ham.

So, back to my desultory stroll through the vast tablelands of American junk food. I turned a corner and saw a vendor behind a table hand two attendees, probably buyers for a store, a single small gingerbread man each.

I love gingerbread men! Mainly I love gingerbread. I'm not sure why it's so often in human form: perhaps it's a gentle way to teach kids cannibalism in case they need it as a survival skill.

I asked the woman, "Can I have a gingerbread man?"

She leaned forward, peered at my badge, then leaned back away. She closed the container of men and huddled it protectively.

"I can't have a gingerbread man?" I said, and I'm sure the sadness in my voice captured my inner 5-year-old cannibal, because the two food store buyers looked accusingly at the vendor. Perhaps a million-dollar deal hung in the balance. Would you deny this poor man a gingerbread man?

I can has gingerbread man!
Grudgingly, the woman opened the lid of the jar and handed me a single plastic-wrapped gingerbread man. She frowned at me, but the two food store buyers smiled. I smiled back at them.

I put the man in my bag and that should be the end of the story.

Except you know what? It's covered in chocolate. Yuck! The vendor was right after all. She wasted a perfectly good, or should I say perfectly representative, gingerbread man on me. I'm sorry.

But at least I got a blog post out of the Fancy Food Show.

Follow me on Twitter: @wblakegray and like The Gray Report on Facebook.


Goma SF said...

Cute story! I'm glad that you got a gingerbread man at the end. If not, too sad...
What kind of title you are planning to have on your name tag next year? Hope you get a good one for more goodies.

Mare said...


Next year, his badge will say, "Gingerbread connoisseur."

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the accompanying music next year:

Adam Lee
Siduri Wines