Published on 02/23/16

Judges choose 33 finalists for UGA's 2016 Flavor of Georgia contest

By Merritt Melancon

Judges have selected 33 products to compete in the final round of the University of Georgia's 2016 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest March 14-15 at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot in Atlanta.

This year marks the 10th annual Flavor of Georgia contest. Over the last decade, the contest has grown in scope and prestige, but it remains the state's premier testing ground for both small, upstart food companies and time-tested products.

The 33 finalists, who have passed the first round of judging, were selected from a field of more than 135 products in 11 categories, the largest amount of entries in the contest's history.

Finalists will bring their products to the final round of judging as part of Gov. Nathan Deal's Ag Day at the Capitol.

"Each year it becomes more difficult to select finalists because each year the field of products submitted to the Flavor of Georgia contest is better, more diverse and more innovative than the year before," said Sharon P. Kane, contest coordinator and economist with the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

A food business development specialist, Kane and her center colleagues have organized the annual contest since 2007.

Judges for the final round of the contest will include food brokers, grocery buyers, chefs and other food industry experts. They will judge each entry based on commercial appeal, Georgia theme, taste, innovation and market potential in each category.

This year's finalists are listed below by product name, company and city.

Barbecue Sauces:

  • Joe Kem's Bar-B-Que Sauce, Joe Kem's BBQ, Moultrie
  • Smokin' Jerk BBQ Sauce and Marinade, Nature's Kitchen, Roswell
  • Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q Original Sauce, Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q, Marietta


  • Heaven's Finest Lemonade (Charlotte Bell Caribbean Blend), Heaven's Finest Beverages, Atlanta
  • Paulk's Pride White Muscadine Juice, Paulk's Pride, Wray
  • ASI Tea-Muscadine, Yaupon Tea Company, Savannah


  • Dark and Milk Chocolate Caramels with Sea Salt, Blue Ridge Candy Company, Blairsville
  • Caramel Pecan Pie, Buttermilk Pie Company, Gainesville
  • Coco-Nilla, The Chocolate Box, Conyers


  • Banner Butter Sea Salt Cultured Butter, A Good Churn, Doraville
  • Cherokee Rose Cheese, Nature's Harmony, Atlanta
  • Nekkid Espresso Dairy-Free Gelato, Revolution Gelato, Atlanta


  • Papa's Private Selection Honey 100 Percent Pure, Raw, Unfiltered; Bruce's Nut-N-Honey Farm/The Honey Shack; Homerville
  • Sweet Georgia Peach Honey, Native Honey-Native American Indian Honey Company, Homer
  • H.L. Franklin's Healthy Honey-Wildflower, Franklin Foods, Statesboro

Jams and Jellies:

  • Aronia Berry Lime Ginger Jam, Elange, Fayetteville
  • Peach Pecan Jam with Jack Daniels Winter Blend, Fairywood Thicket Farm, Fairburn
  • Wisham Jellies Wild Mayhaw Pepper Jelly, Wisham Jellies, Tifton

Marinades, Sauces and Rubs:

  • Anisa's Secrets Rosemary Lemon Pepper, Anisa's Secrets, Marietta
  • Hot Steve-A Seriously Spicy Chile Salt, Beautiful Briny Sea, Atlanta
  • Leek, Chive and Onion Seasoning and Dip Blend, The Salt Table, Pooler

Meat and Seafood:

  • Medium Smoked Link Sausage, Carroll's Sausage and Meats, Ashburn
  • Hot Georgia Night Sausage, Hunter Cattle Company, Brooklet
  • Chorizo Sausage, White Oak Pastures, Bluffton


  • Banana Bread, Back to the Basics 101, Cochran
  • Dinner Tonight White Bean Chili Seasoning, Backyard Safari Company, Covington
  • Pocketful of Starlight Vanilla Sugar, Beautiful Briny Sea, Atlanta

Salsas, Chutneys and Condiments:

  • Abby J's Blackhawk Field to Fork Sweet Fire Pickles, Abby J's Gourmet, Clarkesville
  • Adictos a la SALSA, KelRaeeMar, Sharpsburg
  • LeAnn's Gourmet Zucchini Relish, LeAnn's Gourmet Foods, McDonough

Snack Foods:

  • Kim's Cheese Straws-Pecan Cheddar, Marsh Cabin Bakery, Statesboro
  • Cinnamon Roasted Pecans, Pearson Farm, Fort Valley
  • Short Straws, Spicy Flavor, Southern Straws Cheese Straws, Columbus

All finalists receive a one-year, silver-level Georgia Grown membership from the Georgia Department of Agriculture and a customized Flavor of Georgia logo for their label and promotional materials, along with the opportunity to pitch their product to grocery buyers and food industry professionals who judge the final round of the contest.

Category and grand prize winners will receive trophies, and the grand prize winner receives complimentary exhibit space at the Georgia Food Industry Association's annual conference and consultation services from the UGA Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center.

The Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest is organized by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, with support from Georgia Center of Innovation for Agribusiness, the Office of the Governor, Walton EMC, the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Agribusiness Council.

More information about the contest is available at and by following the contest on Twitter at at or on Instagram at

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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