Published on 02/19/18

State's top food products make final round of University of Georgia's 2018 Flavor of Georgia contest

By Merritt Melancon

Judges selected 33 products to compete in the final round of the University of Georgia’s 2018 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest in Atlanta set for March 20.

The contest is the state’s premier proving ground for small, upstart food companies as well as time-tested products. This year’s finalists represent all corners of the state and the best of Georgia’s diverse culinary heritage.

The finalists passed the first round of judging and were selected from a field of 126 products in 11 categories.

Finalists will bring their products to Atlanta for the final round of judging, which will be held in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Agriculture's Agriculture Awareness Week celebration March 19-23. Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black has designated March 20 as Flavor of Georgia Day.

“Georgia is home to some of the best and most creative minds in the food business, and each year the Flavor of Georgia contest helps to showcase that talent,” said Sharon P. Kane, contest coordinator and economist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ (CAES) Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. 

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

“The legacy of excellence and camaraderie that our Flavor of Georgia finalists and winners have achieved continues to be remarkable,” she said. “It is a competition, but it’s also a family. Over the years, contestants have built collaborations and networks that continue to support and enhance food entrepreneurship in Georgia, from the coast to the mountains. It’s not just great food, it’s economic development.”

Judges for the final round of the contest will include food brokers, grocery buyers and other food industry experts. They evaluate entries by category based on their Georgia theme, commercial appeal, taste, innovation and market potential. Contestants will provide samples to judges and pitch their products in a “Shark Tank”-style presentation. Finalists will be named in each category, and a grand prize winner and People’s Choice Award winner will be named.

This year’s finalists are listed by product name, company and city. All entries are from Georgia-based businesses.

Barbecue Sauces:

  • Jamaica Me Sweat Soppin’ Sauce, Two Fat Chile Cats, Savannah
  • Original BBQ Sauce, The GrillMan BBQ Company, Cumming
  • Sorta White BBQ Sauce, Lane’s BBQ, Bethlehem


  • Blueberry Citrus Tea, Olympus Greek Mountain Teas, Lawrenceville
  • Ginger’s Bunkhouse Spicy Ginger Ale, Bunkhouse Beverages, Athens
  • Magnolia Green Tea, Biron Herbal Teas, Macon

Condiments and Salsas:

  • Georgia Gourmet Tomato Ketchup, The Sauce Company Inc., Lilburn
  • Sourwood (Honey) Balsamic Vinegar, Built By Bees, Atlanta
  • Vidalia Onion & Balsamic Vinegar Jam, A&A Alta Cucina Italia, Johns Creek


  • Brown Butter Crunch Gelato, Honeysuckle Gelato, Atlanta
  • Georgia Pecan Bar, Bread and Butter Bakery, Covington
  • Pecan Shortbread, Watanut, Augusta

 Dairy Products:

  • BlackRock Cheese, CalyRoad Creamery, Sandy Springs
  • Feta Cheese, Bootleg Farm, Springfield
  • New World Chocolate Milk, Rock House Creamery, Newborn

Honey and Related Products:

  • Creamed Honey, H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey, Statesboro
  • Gourmet Vanilla Infused Honey Pot, Built By Bees, Atlanta
  • Southern Sriracha Spicy Honey, Bear Hug Honey Company, Athens

Jams and Jellies:

  • Datil Peach Marmalade, Emily G’s, Dunwoody
  • Hibiscus Jelly, Pride Road, Smyrna
  • Wild Elderberry Pepper Jelly, Fairywood Thicket Farm, Fairburn

Meats and Seafood:

  • Applewood Smoked Bacon, Pine Street Market, Avondale Estates
  • Grassfed Beecon Grind, White Oak Pastures, Bluffton
  • The Georgia Pie, Pouch Pies, Athens


  • Honey Cinnamon Pecan Butter, Goodson Pecans, Leesburg
  • Laynee’s Walnut Butter, LWB, Cumming
  • Savory Pimento Cheese Cheesecake, Honey Catering, Millen

Sauces and Seasonings:

  • BBQ Rub, Joe Kem’s BBQ, Moultrie
  • Cajeta, Bootleg Farm, Springfield
  • Lane’s Qnami Rub, Lane’s BBQ, Bethlehem

Snack Foods

  • Georgia Fried Peanuts, Georgia Fried Peanut Company, Edison
  • Signature Champagne Pecans, Pearson Farm, Fort Valley
  • Sugar and Spice Cashews, High Cotton Company, Sandy Springs

The Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest is organized by the UGA CAES Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development with support from the Georgia Center of Innovation for Agribusiness, the Office of the Governor, Walton EMC, Gourmet Foods International, 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 @FlavorofGA 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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