For an actor there are few honors bigger than the Oscar. For a gourmet salsa or fine chocolate, the “sofi” is the award that gets the red carpet treatment. Sofi stands for specialty outstanding food innovation and Castleton Crackers was one of several Vermont food products to win the coveted prize.
Whitney Lamy began selling her homemade crackers in hand lettered brown paper bags at the Rutland Farmer’s market in 2008.
Today those crackers sell nationwide and her governor’s cheddar flavor was just named this year’s best cracker by the specialty food industry. “Really I get the chills when I sit here and look at this award, said Lamy. “It makes me proud of my hard work. It makes me proud of my family and them sticking with me through all of this and eating a hell of a lot of crackers over the last few years!”
The sofi awards were announced Monday in New York City. Lamy said the elaborate ceremony was thrilling. “This just makes me feel so honored,” she said, “and I’m hoping it brings even more recognition and more orders for Castleton Crackers.”
Louise Kramer of the Specialty Food Association said it very likely will. She said past winners have reported the award has boosted their business anywhere from 20% to 300%. Kramer said major retailers like Whole foods and Dean & DeLuca as well as resorts, casinos and airlines often use the list of sofi finalists like a shopping list.” “A sofi helps put a company on the map,” added Kramer.
She said the U.S. specialty food industry brought in more than $88 billion in sales last year. Kramer said this year’s awards were the most competitive in the association’s 42-year history with more than 2,700 entries competing in 32 categories.
Besides Castleton Crackers, three other Vermont-based specialty food companies won top honors including: Wozz! Kitchen Creations, Vermont Creamery and Tonewood maple products.
Ashley Thompson, co-owner of Wozz! Kitchen Creations said in the last few days alone, visits to their website have increased dramatically and congratulatory emails have been pouring in. The company, which makes all its products in Hardwick, won top honors in both the salad dressing and condiment category.