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Getting in the game at Expo East

My trip to Expo East this year — maybe yours, too — was highlighted in part by a gorgeous Wednesday night visiting the Baltimore Convention Center's neighbors over at Camden Yards.

The Orioles, baseball fans know, clinched the title of the American League East just the night before, and so were warmly supported by an appreciative crowd that hadn't seen their Birds win a division in 17 years — and waited 45 years for a clincher at home. Behind two Steve Pearce home runs, they made easy work of the visiting Toronto Blue Jays, 6-1.

In other sports news from Expo East, products marketed for athletes' performance and those with a more general health-and-wellness appeal tended to come together on the exhibit floor.

The phenomenon was clearly evident at a booth where brothers Mark and Jon Sider were introducing Greater Than, a beverage combining the electrolyte content and bright flavors of the traditional sports drink with the healthier properties and trend of coconut water. "We wanted to make something better than Gatorade," Jon told me, serving orange/mango, tropical fruit and pomegranite/berry flavors.

Pre-workout food was getting a similar treatment at a booth showcasing Perfect Fuel, dark chocolate squares infused with gingseng marketed as a sports energy snack. Miles Masci, whose business card calls him the brand's "director of chocologistics" explained the product was founded by a triathlete who snacked on chocolate for the energy and gingseng to improve endurance.

The bite-sized squares can be merchandised at checkout asiles and with nutrition bars.

Other sports bar makers could be seen bringing their equity to additional categories. Quest Nutrition, which grew through protein bars marketed to bodybuilders, was showcasing new "protein chips" — whey and milk baked chips in sea salt, BBQ and cheddar flavors. Quest reps said the expansion spoke to the overarching protein trend providing an opportunity to move "beyond the bar." 

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