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Fancy Food Show’s flavors linger on

The 2013 Summer Fancy Food Show ended more than two weeks ago, but many stories from exhibitors are still front and center, thanks to the Specialty Food Association’s My Story, My Ad contest. This week, the public got their chance to read through the stories and vote for their favorites.

The contest grew from the association’s first-ever ad campaign that’s focused on telling the stories behind the food, with the tagline Specialty Food. Craft. Care. Joy. Some 373 fancy food entrepreneurs entered their stories during the show and online.

As of Wednesday afternoon, MagicalButter, a gadget that extracts nutrients from plants to make healthier butters, oils and even lotions, was leading with more than 750 votes. The machine was originally developed to ease the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and is now used by chefs and home cooks looking to derive a wide range of health benefits, according to the story submitted by founder and CEO Garyn Angel.

Next came Nicole Foods, maker of a slaw-salsa hybrid appropriately named Slawsa, with 626 votes for an entry by co-creator Julie Busha that calls the product “an old family recipe that never made it to market.”

Just like the massive show floor, the contest voting site is chock full of foodie stories and entrepreneurial tales from the specialty food business, such as:

  • A Cheesemaker’s Reflection” by Allison Hooper of Vermont Creamery, who learned to make cheese on a farm in Brittany as a broke college student who needed a way to pay for her keep during a summer trip to France.
  • Junk Food Olympian” by Kristen Buchanan, a member of the U.S. National Field Hockey Team who created the organic The GoodOnY Bar after developing autoimmunity after she retired from the game.
  • A Child’s Smile” by Dina Houser, who grew up with seven siblings and fine tuned variations of mom’s granola recipe into Ola! Foods, which donates its profits to a foundation that invests in programs to improve the lives of disadvantaged youth.
  • A Dream of Spices” by Nidhi Jalan, who tells the story of Masala Mama, who was destined from her birth in Kolkata to have a passion for spices and, as an adult, traded her career as a ceramic artist to launch a spice company.
  • From Tragedy, to Barbecue, to Business” by Chevalo and Monique Wilsondebriano, the founders of Charleston Gourmet Burger Co. Chevalo was a New York City firefighter whose experience as a 9/11 first responder showed him what’s important — he married Monique, moved to Charleston and set about creating the perfect  burger.

The public can read these stories and all the others at the contest site, vote for their favorites daily through Sunday, and even leave comments about the stories and the products. The winner will be announced Aug. 2. The prize, an ad campaign and a three-day trip to San Francisco, is valued at $15,000 all told.

What’s your favorite story behind a food or beverage brand? Tell us about it in the comments.