The N.C. Specialty Foods Association recently announced winners of its 2023 Best in Taste product competition during the final virtual Summer of Learning event. The Durham Toffee Company earned grand champion honors for its Espresso Crunch, beating out a total of 163 entries across 12 categories in this year’s competition.
Sweater Box Confections of Nags Head was runner-up in the Baked Goods category for their Chai Shortbread Cookies.
Founded in 2011 by Chris Carroll, all of her sweet treats can can be found at her home base at ReStyle Market, 2910 South Croatan Highway an the seasonal weekly farmers markets in Nags Head and Manteo, as well as select products at locations up and down the Outer Banks, across North Carolina and around the country.
Sweater Box also just won Our State magazine’s Made In NC Awards Food Category for their Lavender Lemon Cookies.
“These winners plus other North Carolina food and beverage artisans in the association offer plenty of tasty options to add to your pantry,” said Sherry Barefoot, marketing coordinator for the NCSFA. “These products make great gifts, whether they be for a significant other, parent, boss, teacher or your kid’s coach. These products are sure to make a good impression.”
Following are the 2023 NCSFA Best in Taste winners and runners up in each category:
Grand Champion – The Durham Toffee Company, Durham, Espresso Crunch,
First place: Boozie Bakes, Raleigh, French Vanilla Bliss Cupcakes
Second place: Sweater Box Confections, Nags Head, Chai Shortbread Cookies
First place: Kitcheneez, Burlington, Kitcheneez BBQ Sauce Seasoning Mix
Second place: Queen’s Jollof Sauce, Apex, Queen’s Honey Jerk BBQ Sauce
First place: Sweet’s Elderberry, Charlotte, Sweet’s Elderberry Shrub
Second place: Alley Twenty Six, Durham, Alley Twenty Six Raspberry Syrup
First place: Queen’s Jollof Sauce, Apex, Queen’s Jollof Sauce
Second place: Kitcheneez, Burlington, Kitcheneez House Dressing Mix
First place: The Durham Toffee Company, Durham, Durham Toffee
Second place: America’s Best Nut Company, Rocky Mount, Carolina Cluster
Deli Meats, Cheese, Dairy
First place: Nana’s Porch Pimento Cheese, Charlotte, Nana’s Porch Smoked Jalapeno Pimento Cheese
Second place: Nana’s Porch Pimento Cheese, Charlotte, Nana’s Porch Original Pimento Cheese
Fruit Spreads, Jams and Jellies
First place: Berry Best Jams, Four Oaks, Reduced Sugar Strawberry Fruit Spread
Second place: Heaven’s Gate Orchard, Asheville, Nana’s Apple Butter
First place: Rising Smoke Sauceworks, Efland, Synergy
Second place: Oak City Hot Sauce, Raleigh, Reaper Madness
First place: Big Spoon Roasters, Durham, Lemon Coconut Cashew Butter
Second place: Big Spoon Roasters, Durham, Pistachio Crunch Almond Butter
First place: Darë Vegan Cheese, Asheville, Original Plant Based Cheesecake
Second place: Darë Vegan Cheese, Asheville, Pepperjack Plant-Based Cheese Wedge
First place: The Durham Toffee Company, Durham, Espresso Crunch,
Second place: JOY Filled Foods, Goldsboro, Sweet & Spicy Pecans
Sweets & Syrups
First place: Happy Heart Elderberry, Faison, Elderberry Syrup
Second place: Nurture By Nature, Clemmons, Elderberry Extract
The NCSFA serves more than 150 specialty food and beverage artisans. Its mission is to actively encourage and support the promotion and appreciation of the state’s specialty foods and beverages. Learn more and access the Dish This! catalog to find local, artisan, small-batch products made in N.C. at ncspecialtyfoods.org.