The Quest for Texas Best competition is a project of H-E-B Primo Picks, a two-year old statewide program that aims to find the best food and beverage products that Texas has to offer.
Judges whittled nearly 600 submissions from across the Lone Star State to 25 finalists. Submissions came from 128 towns across the state, yielding a mix of jams, jellies, spices and meats. Entries spanned 74 categories including beer, butter, cookies and milk, muffins, Mexican pastries, pickles, sauces and teas.
In two qualifying rounds, H-E-B business development managers judged submissions on taste and flavor, customer appeal, value, uniqueness, market potential and differentiation from products already available at most H-E-B stores.
The 25 finalists are Armadillo Eggs, Briggs True, Crybabies Sweet-N-Sassy Jalapenos, Davis Mountains Nut Company, Deelicious Red Velvet Waffle Batter, Fianco a Fianco, Four Escobars, Frenchie's Fabulous Nut Company, Fresh. Salsa, Frio Farm Artisan Extract, Habibi Gourmet, Huerta's Texas Gumbo, The Jelly Queens, Jolly Jack's Hot Sauce, Kristy's Toffee 'N Treats, La Nueva Tortilleria, Marigold Bars, MaxFrut, Savannah Rose Punch, Sweet Heat Jam Company, Texas Hot Salt, Texas Toffee Queen, Vela Farms, Walker Honey Farm and Yardbird Bloody Mary Mix.
During the deciding round August 19 and 20 at the Houston Food Bank, a panel of expert judges will interview the makers of the finalist products to weigh their potential as retail suppliers. In the process, they will examine each item for quality, marketability and readiness for production.
Four winners will receive cash prizes and consideration for a place on H-E-B shelves in 2015. The $25,000 grand prize carries an additional accolade: That winner will be named a "Texas Best" Primo Pick. A first-place winner will receive $20,000, with $15,000 awarded for second-place and $10,000 for third place.