Charleston and Church wins Flavor of Georgia grand prize
Charleston and Church won the grand prize in the University of Georgia’s 2020 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest for its savory Cheddar Rounds snacks.
Warren and Jen Simmons, owners of the Atlanta company, developed the product in 2016 from a handwritten recipe by his grandmother, who was an avid hostess of friends and family at her home in Charleston, South Carolina. The couple topped the savory snack food with Georgia pecans to complete a “deliciously Southern” treat, as the package reads.
The couple were among 30 finalists who gave virtual product pitches from their businesses and home kitchens to a panel of socially distant judges who sampled submitted products in Athens on Oct. 27. The final round of judging was postponed from the original judging and awards date of April 7.
Flavor of Georgia, a signature event for UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, has launched many market-ready and established products to success, often garnering increased sales and publicity for businesses.
“Contestants represent the intersection of culinary skill and entrepreneurial spirit. Both ingredients are essential to bring a new food product into the marketplace and for the overall viability of the business,” said CAES Interim Dean Joe West during the virtual awards celebration.
Entries are judged on aspects such as flavor, texture and ingredient profile. Judges also consider consumer appeal including packaging, innovation or uniqueness, and how well the product represents Georgia.
The winners by category, product name, company and city:
• Barbecue Sauces: Strawberry Balsamic & Rosemary Barbecue Sauce, Aubs Company, Decatur;
• Beverages: Georgia Grey Black Tea, Thistle & Sprig Tea Company, Atlanta;
• Condiments and Salsas: Georgia Peach Balsamic Vinegar, A&A Alta Cucina Italia, Johns Creek;
• Confections: Georgia Fried Peanut Cluster – Vanilla, Georgia Fried Peanut Company, Edison;
• Honey and Related Products: Wildflower Honey, White Oak Pastures, Bluffton;
• Jams and Jellies: Apple Fig Pepper Jelly, Wisham Jellies, Tifton;
• Meats and Seafood: 920 Pork Sausage, 920 Cattle & Co., Millen;
• Miscellaneous: Lemon Cream Cheese, Bootleg Farm, Springfield;
• Sauces and Seasonings: You Saucy Thing Soy Ginger Vidalia, Chinese Southern Belle, Smyrna;
• Snack Foods: Cheddar Rounds, Charleston and Church, Atlanta.
All winners and finalists earn the right to have their products stamped with the Flavor of Georgia logo and the signature contest apron.
Since 2007, more than 1,600 products have been submitted to Flavor of Georgia. A total of 117 products were entered this year, all of which are featured in the annual directory on the contest website.
“The phrase ‘culinary delights’ takes on a whole new depth this year,” said contest coordinator Sharon P. Kane, an agricultural economist for the college. “Many people turned to food and drink for nourishment and comfort this year, and it’s more important than ever that we support these local businesses.”
Food and drink manufacturing businesses represent nearly 10% of employment in Georgia’s agricultural system and is the largest manufacturing sector in the state for employment, sales and value-added products, according to Kane’s research.