It is hard to believe that Expo West ended over a week ago – all of the flavors are still vivid in my memory (as is the excitement that the show radiated). There were 3,187 exhibitors on the floorplan for this year and while they posted that they had expected attendance of 60,000+ I heard rumor that the numbers pushed the 80,000 mark, resembling the good ol days of this show!
We flew into town on day one of the show, so I missed the opening day. From what I heard, the North Hall (being the only one open that day) was packed to the brim. I do believe that because Day 2 was the same thing over in the main hall! Day 2 of the show started beautifully, the sun was shining and we got the amazing opportunity to earn our keep by helping out at the Serving Goodness breakfast. That event offered a catered breakfast in turn for help packing food boxes for the Children’s Hunger Fund. It was a great event that coupled a healthy start to your day with community service. There was a little break between the breakfast and opening of the main hall, and the sun provided for a great backdrop to enjoy the samples and events in the plaza.
On the show floor things were bustling. In fact, some aisles were nearly impossible to navigate. The high volume of people did make it nice when trying to get a few extra minutes to chew up the random samples that are constantly being thrown at you, but it made it difficult to navigate as it was easy to get lost in the sea of people. I was immediately excited by the new flavors that Liquid Death put out – especially their tea! Jason stopped at the Spicin Foods booth for a sample of the various levels of da Bomb, as made famous on Hot Ones. He fared that stop well…. Me not so much!
Day three of the show was still quite busy but the rain put a definite damper on the outside activities. I thought about the poor artist who was halfway done with her chalk mural… I never saw her back once the rain started because it didn’t stop. All that progress she had made washed away in the blink of an eye. The outdoor sample tents and trucks also had a major decrease in traffic as there were times where it was so wet they couldn’t keep their tents from filling with water.
One of my favorite stops on the last days of the show was at Endangered Species Chocolate. They had a display titled washed ashore and it was a large sculpture of a penguin made from a variety of garbage that had come from the ocean. It was a very visual depiction of what mankind is doing to our natural resources.
Calbee also released some really tasty almond snacks. My favorite were the chips flavored with wasabi which is my favorite flavor for their Harvest Pea Snaps. Beverage was another big category this year. I enjoyed a lot of sparking sodas that would make for excellent mixers! (I mean that were super scrumptious) Humm was also a regular go to every time I needed a coconut lime kombucha fix.
The show stayed super high pace right up until the final day. About noon on closing day you could tell people were out of samples and were done and over with the show. The aisles began clearing out by mid-day and the bustle turned from business as usual to pack up and get out. I wouldn’t have had it any other way though. The vibe was great and while the show was open people were connecting. Business was done, friendships were reinvigorated and the CPG industry was given an injection of excitement. Until 2024 Anaheim… it’s been great! See you next Expo!