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Food and Fashion

by Ann Zuccardy

Recently, while perusing my monthly issue of In Style magazine, I noticed that fashions from the 1980s are hot in 2006. For example, leggings and jeans with skinny pencil-cut legs that you wear with high heels are so trendy these days! I fear that soon big hair will be making a comeback. I tried wearing leggings (for the uninitiated, leggings are footless tights) recently. I paired them with a short denim skirt and stretchy long sleeved tee. While this combo was cute when I was 24, I felt like an idiot wearing it at 44.

Thinking about clothing fashion and trends made me think about food fashion. What’s cool in the food world these days and who’s buying specialty foods like gourmet shortbread?

Anyone can tell you that specialty upscale foods are a booming business. Just take a look at all the “restaurant quality” soups next to the classic Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom in the soup aisle of your grocery store to see what I mean. Ever notice how the word “artisan” is bandied about a lot lately in reference to gourmet or premium food? I’ve seen artisan coffee and tea, artisan bread, artisan cheese, and heck, even Wendy’s is now advertising a sandwich served on “artisan” bread! Sorry, Wendy’s but somehow the word artisan loses its oomph for me when used to sell fast food.

Consumer culture is changing rapidly these days. With the availability of fresh ingredients from all over the world at the click of a computer button or in our local super-sized grocery stores, people are becoming more exposed to ingredients that were impossible to find even 10 or 15 years ago. People are demanding to know where their food comes from and how it is grown or processed. The baby boomers especially (the generation born between 1946-1964) are willing to pay top dollar for high quality foods. I look at myself and my friends (yes, we’re at the tail end of the baby boomer generation). We won’t bat an eyelash at spending $100 on a good bottle of wine, but we often drive old compact cars with high mileage or shop at thrift stores. That tells you where our priorities are. We baby boomers love our good food and drink! The growth of the premium or artisan food industry is the result of societal and cultural change.

So what exactly is artisan food? It’s handcrafted. The craftsmanship, attention to small details, and top-notch ingredients create a superior sensory experience.

Recently I thought I should develop a shortbread wine biscuit. I learned at the 2006 Fancy Food show in New York City that wine biscuits are chic in 2006. After some lukewarm attempts at baking them, I realized it was silly to fix something that wasn’t broken. Vermont Shortbread Company has built its reputation and its amazing longevity on fine dessert shortbread. So the dessert market is where we’ll stay for now.

Last week at a networking meeting, I passed around a newly invented brown sugar and spice dessert shortbread fresh from the oven. Did it evoke any fond food memories for my tasters with its spicy aroma? Did they notice the beautiful presentation in a handcrafted basket lined with Vermont Shortbread Company’s signature green gingham napkin? Did my colleagues let each piece melt on their tongues, noticing texture, taste sensations, and how it felt in their mouths? You’d better believe it! Vermont Shortbread Company doesn’t need to tell you our product is artisan. Our shortbread speaks for itself. Now that’s MY definition of artisan food. Your senses know what feels and tastes good. Let them do the work. Don’t be a slave to food or clothing fashion!

In this world of leggings, wine biscuits and other food and clothing trends, Vermont Shortbread is like a pearl necklace; timeless, classic, simple, elegant, natural, always appreciated, and always in style. Our products speak quietly for themselves: always in style, always chic.

Copyright 2006 Ann Zuccardy. All rights reserved.


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