With a New Orleans theme, it would be easy for the Show & Sell Center teams — composed of retailers, manufacturers and chefs — to go over the top with their featured displays. But, the Show & Sell displays at this year’s International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s annual show and expo carefully balanced wild, eye-grabbing items with practical ideas that retailers could bring back to their stores.
“Since I’ve been involved in this, I’ve always maintained that we have to show items that are workable on store level — at least portions of them,” said Ron Fischer, bakery and deli director at Hugo’s Family Marketplace and nine-year veteran of the Show & Sell Center team.
“You always have to have one or two ‘wow’ items just to get somebody’s attention but I try to have as many items as we can in there that is actually some version of what could be done on store level.”
“The Breakfast Club” case got a lot of attention with its rainbow-colored pancakes, breakfast burritos, sweet waffles, breakfast hash brown nests, and breakfast pizza topped with eggs and tater tots.
“In all the 10 years that I’ve been doing this show we have never done a breakfast case. And breakfast is becoming such a large part of business that we said, ‘We’ve got to do something to prove you could actually put breakfast items in a case,’” Fischer told SN.
Waffles decorated with fruit and whipped cream and the hash brown nests garnered many comments from show-goers, and Fischer said he’s going to start offering the nests in his own store.
Over in the bakery section, a real upside-down wedding cake hung over a tabletop display of individually wrapped cupcakes.
The cake’s creator, Danny Lane, bakery technician at Harps Food Stores , said that the idea behind the cake was to draw attention.
Aesthetics were important to the bakery team. In a nearby display, Lane said the team wanted to show how to “jazz up” simple items to “make them look a bit fancier.”
The display featured both bell jar vintage-inspired and large dessert parfaits, as well as several different cupcakes — including cupcakes with unusual colored frosting (lime green, dark blue, light pink) and cupcakes fashioned into sparkling high heels.
A segmented cake was one popular, easy-to-implement bakery item. These cakes were made from four different cakes, frozen and cut into quarters, and then combined with assorted flavors.
“They get a variety cake and an 8-inch cake because then you got carrot, German, chocolate and white in that one cake,” Lane said.
In addition, the bakery team featured a stacked, brightly colored New Orleans king cake, a twist on the traditional Mardi Gras dessert, and an original French king cake.
While the king cakes were certainly appropriate for the New Orleans show, Dorothy Lane Market  bakery team members noted the success of king cakes in their Ohio stores.
Dorothy Lane began by selling around 100 cakes in the two stores they had at the time, Bakery Director Scott Fox said.
“Now we have three stores, and we’ll sell 1,300 to 1,400 king cakes in a season. For us in our bakery, it’s created a whole another holiday for the year. We really rely on sales from those king cakes every year,” said Fox.
With Dorothy Lane’s king cakes, Mardi Gras comes to Ohio.
“People have parties and you see people buying stacks of them for Mardi Gras parties,” said Jennifer Dahm, retail bakery manager at Dorothy Lane.
Many of the Show & Sell displays focused on presenting ho-hum items with unexpected applications. In the “Pies and Thighs” display that showed off new ideas for pizza and chicken wings, the wings were stretched across skewers that pointed out in different directions.
Chicken wings also appeared in the “Man Cave” display, housed in red solo cups that evoked barbecues and backyard parties.
The use of red Solo cups was actually inspired by the song “Red Solo Cup”— recorded by country singer Toby Keith — said Tony Wilkins, key account specialist at Jon Morris Co.
Beer bottles, smoked turkey legs, meatball kabobs, alligator nuggets, peanuts and tools accented this male-shopper-themed display, but the star of the “Man Cave” was the big turkey sandwich. The sandwich, made from two full turkeys, sat on an extra-large bun.
Attention-getters like the turkey sandwich are intended to stop people in their tracks for just a second so they then look at other items in the display, said Chris Koch, executive chef at Cooking Or Whatever, a culinary teaching and consulting firm in Langhorne, Pa.
While impressive in scale, the sandwich can easily be made at stores. “At retail I think having three chickens in there would be as impressive as two turkeys,” said Sonya Heydt, bakery and deli specialist at Nash Finch Co. “Then they can pull them out the next day and reconstitute them into the recipes.”
The team that put together the “Cheese Express” display also considered application at the store level.
“The easiest to execute is going to be the shredded cheeses,” said Paul Brumback, Balls Food Stores , about the convenience dairy display. “The thing is that there’s nothing here that’s hard. It’s something can be executed at store level with a lot of ease and very little labor.”
Instead of offering traditionally shredded cheeses, the dairy team members filled large jars with upscale shredded cheeses like jarlsburg and gruyere.
With grated upscale cheese, customers have the option to buy random weights for a recipe instead of buying a block and grating it themselves, said Brumback.
“Cheese Express” showed off compound butters out of the wrapper and put on top of a steak, an ear of corn, a baked potato and rolls. The display also contrasted adult and children’s versions of macaroni and cheese, in ice cream cones and oyster shells.
“The eye appeal is the one thing you strive for. … If it looks good, they’ll figure out what to do with it,” said Sue Bosse, regional marketing manager at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
With items like marinated cheeses and spreads, this convenience cheese case is a salesperson’s case, according to Brumback.
“Someone needs to be sampling so, first of all, people can try the product,” said Brumback, who noted retailers could offer rotating recipes on top of the case to make the display interactive.
Other cases focused more on grab-and-go items, like the “Meal Planner” snack display case that offered a mixture of branded products like juices and yogurt dips, with house-packed parfaits, salads in bell jars, and small packages containing grapes, hardboiled eggs and string cheese.
JoAnne Alm, bakery and deli category manager at Nash Finch , said snacks are important as consumers, including her, are looking for small, healthful snacks.
Sidebar: Byerly's Designer Wins IDDBA Cake Challenge
Andria Chinander (right) of Lund Food Holdings ’ Byerly’s took first place in the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s annual Cake Decorating Challenge at the show in the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.
The three finalists were chosen from over 70 contestants who applied to the challenge.
“This contest gets harder and harder to judge as the contestants get better and better,” said Carol Christison, executive director of the IDDBA, at the awards presentation.
For the length of the IDDBA conference, the three finalists worked on assignments in the middle of the Show & Sell Center on the expo floor.
“These decorators were subjected to a very intense schedule. Day one had them creating enough cakes to fill an 8-foot bakery case. Day two had them creating a wedding cake, and day three was the creation of three separate special event cakes, one of which was a show theme cake,” said Christison.
“Cakes are judged on theme, color, uniformity, writing, style and use of accessories,” she added.
IDDBA President Steve Beekhuizen presented the trophies to the finalists.