My fourth time going to the Dallas Gluten-Free & Allergy-Friendly Exposition was full of mixed emotions. I’m part of their official bloggers team, so I get in free and enjoy some extra perks in exchange for covering the event (both live and on my blog). It is work and pleasure, and I think the hardest part is the coverage post following the event (what you’re reading right now). 😪
📷 This post is photo-heavy.
This year, I went as Jane Lawson instead of Liz Lawson for two specific reasons:
- Going by Liz when my blog is named Janepedia makes me have to do extra explaining.
- There is a bit of personal brand awareness that happens at the expo, which I didn’t notice until I realized how many vendors recognized me the previous year (2016). Consistency is important.
I enjoyed it, and I’m glad I made that call. 🙂
I did learn the importance of, like, having relevant business cards. 🤦 You get asked for them, and if yours has produce on it, you imply that you’re a food blogger—and let’s just say I’ve learned my lesson. I need to figure them out before October next year (2018). I have some ideas, and will discuss this later. 😉
We—Charlise (cousin), Brian (cousin-in-law/Charlise’s husband1), Solara (Charlise and Brian’s daughter), myself—went and stayed both days. Brian worked at Aleia’s with Josh (Aleia’s representative), so we stayed both days until, like, close. It was weird, but also interesting. It reminded me a lot of the Six Flags photoshoot—I got to learn some behind-the-scenes GFAF Expo secrets! As a result, we also got free extra goodies via Brian. I wish I’d’ve asked him to grab a box of the stuffing, because stuffing, but my love for vanilla bean cookies won out. 🍪
(Then I was gonna buy a box the next day, but the stuffing. was. GONE.)
As usual, I slept shit. For someone who sleeps only 0-3 hours the first day of these shows, I think I do pretty grand. This year, we were supposed to arrive about an hour and a half before the expo (8:30am, I think), because of Brian, and an hour early (9am) because we’re GFAF Expo Bloggers. We arrived late (9ish) because of me, because I stock up on water and also am always running behind on the first day. I can prepare and prepare, but the morning of the first day, it’s like, LOL WHAT IS PREPARATION?
Each year, I’m tempted to stay at a nearby hotel for the weekend of the expo so I can relax a bit more. 😅 Some show sponsors have blogger meetups the night of the first day, but it’s a lot of travel and lugging around even though Char and I live nearby (Richardson and Garland, respectively), so we always wind up declining.
Schär (pronounced shawr, like “Char” for Charlise) was the feature sponsor of the GFAF Expo this year. They treated the official blogger team to breakfast, which was super nice(!), then let us go “shopping” for Schär swag to take home and stuff our faces with. I’m a huge fan of their bread, which is slightly spongey but always tastes fresh, unlike other store-bought bread. The only other sliced bread brands I’m especially fond of is Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free and Unrefined Bakery.
We left the blogger breakfast early to go to the Aleia’s booth because Brian needed the keys to the SUV, and it was nice because it allowed us to take photos of the booth before all the people came in! During the show, it’s hard to get great photos. I try to take a lot of each booth, but it’s not always helpful; out of all the photos I take, less than half are actually usable.
If you’ve been following my GFAF Expo posts since the start, you know how much I love Aleia’s vanilla bean sugar cookies! If marrying cookies was as legal as gay marriage, I would be all over marrying their vanilla bean cookies (except that might not work as well as I wish).
I really need to have a go at their stuffing!
Enjoy Life Foods
Enjoy Life had an odd, but cute, setup this year! I did feel claustrophobic in some parts and wasn’t a huge fan of how much more social it was, and I got as good photos as I could considering everything. It felt like it was more for kids, and I’m usually cooler with that thing, but as an autistic person, I found it overwhelming.
I don’t know what happened to the photos, but Solara loves Mum-Mums, and she ate them while Charlise carried her on her back, and it was super cute! I personally enjoy Mum-Mums, because the sensory input is satisfying, but even the adult snacks are not too sweet.
The Baby Mum-Mums rep gave us extra snacks because Solara.
Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free
I really enjoy Canyon Bakehouse’s brownies, but I always like their bread display. It’s cute and looks a bit like a bakery!
I loved SunButter’s photobooth last year! I was low-key envious the show before Dallas in 2016 had had a SunButter photobooth. Even though I feel like I always look like a duck, I still enjoy partaking in the photobooths. 🦆
And then Solara passed out. 😴
She awoke around Xóchitl some thirty minutes or an hour later.
Smart Flour Foods
Smart Flour Foods makes some of the best pizza! In 2017, they added PIZZA ROLLS!
Zing Bars is an energy bar. They have only two nut-free bars, and they’re so good. I especially love dark chocolate mint bar, but I feel like that would be a given considering my chemistry with mint chocolate chip ice cream. 😏
Day 1 overall
We basically finished the whole Expo in one day. Aunt Charan (Charlise’s mom) brought the boys midday to enjoy it and grab some samples. The boys go through and are #OverIt within 30 minutes. They don’t know how to savor their food. 🤦
Liteful Foods had a variety of things, but I most enjoyed their cornbread because it was like a moist cake.
Char dressed Solara in girlier clothes this time, because people kept calling her a boy. It took her five boys to get a girl—all of whom were constantly mistaken as girls—and now that she has a girl, the girl is mistook for a boy.
We had to get here about an hour early today again (ugh, Brian, you’re killing me). I did accomplish actual sleep this time, however, so…#progress.
We went to Brazi Bites the first day, but I gotta split these up somehow. I love Brazi Bites. I’m determined to get the Albertson’s down the street to start carrying them. Case in point:
Weekly customer here. I live literally 2m down the road from one of you. Could you guys please start carrying @brazibites, preferably in the Asiago and pizza flavors? Otherwise, I have to go to Kroger or Sprouts, which are 5+ min away.
— Jane Lawson (@gotjane) February 15, 2018
Ronzoni had a photobooth set up, which I was def interested in. This is one of the pasta brands I love. 😀 I’m actually super picky about my pasta—from how it cooks to how it tastes.
Pearl Honey Spreads 🍯
!! This booth was amazing! I can’t remember my favorite flavor anymore, which rather depresses me, but Pearl Honey Spreads is basically, like, gourmet honey. They add spices and fruit, and the end result is uh-māz-ing.
(My favorite might’ve been Pear Ginger.)
Mozaics Chips are popped and made with veggies! I most loved the BBQ and cheese flavors. I liked them way more than regular ole potato chips, because they packed way more flavor and were much more filling. Like with pasta, I’m picky with my chips, but…I was #impressed.
Have you ever had roasted chickpea snacks?! THEY’RE THE BEST. Okay, so, Biena Snacks is my go-to for this. They have a new line of roasted chickpea snacks, which are sweet. I didn’t think I’d like them, but…ugh. They were so good.
P.S. The salted caramel flavor tastes like pistachio pudding! I’m so happy, because I LOVED that flavor, and they’re nut-free. 😀
Salad dressing is another thing I am super picky about, but Briannas Caesar dressing tasted like that of Chili’s in their retired Chicken Caesar Pita dish.
Day 2 overall
Char’s second son, Remy, joined us on the second day. He roamed the expo by himself often, and may have helped Brian? I don’t know if he actually did or not. I do know that, according to him, he got cut off from an energy drinks booth called Bolero. The drinks actually weren’t too bad, in that they tasted great. (…I guess that’s why he got cut off. 🤣)
Solara napped as she pleased, but she was still so adorbz!
Forno de Minas brought to us a new Brazillian cheese bread to try, which was good. I’m still a huge fan of Brazi Bites, however. 😅
GFAF Expo 2017 overall
Spinato’s Fine Foods is a forever favorite, but they were crowded and busy (as usual), and I was preoccupied with pizza, so I didn’t accomplish taking any photos of the booth. I personally love them ’cause they’re always partying! The booth is managed by two energetic guys who are easy to talk to.
Since there were so many newbies this year, most of our usual booth favorites weren’t. It was a bit disappointing, for me at least, because I enjoyed the consistency. No booth had any kind of alcohol—and I was really hoping for Mike’s, because I really enjoy being able to test out their flavors before buying them! The Aussies at the Freedom Foods cereal booth were present not, and…that’s honestly a big thing we look forward to every year. It was a bit sad, Idunno how else to explain it.
I felt rather disappointed in the expo this year, which is part of the reason it took me so long to get up this post2. I feel like a lot of the hype I helped build over it was, like, me lying? People in my life take me for my word regarding this show, and I feel as though I let some of them down.
There was an entire row less of booths, but more people—and the preparation for such an audience felt too slim. My knees don’t allow me to stand too long, because I’m still recovering from my 2016 fall, but we didn’t always get a chance to sit. Likewise, losing that column of booths added to the crowd. I was really claustrophobic and had a difficult time getting through a section at times. I’m glad I brought a cooler bag of ice water, because I don’t know how I would’ve survived without having cold water.3.
With that said, I do enjoy attending the GFAF Expo and look forward to the one happening in Dallas later this year!