This year’s Editors’ Picks delivered on trendiness and convenience, with some new spins on old favorites – but above all, great taste.

It took us weeks, but we ate it all.

The response to Progressive Grocer’s 2013 Editors’ Picks contest was indeed overwhelming. In all, we received nearly 425 entries, encompassing close to 500 individual products, taking into account multiple varieties and favors for many of the food products. (This year, we evaluated nonfood products separately; those winners were profiled in the July 2013 issue.)

When the dust — and our stomachs — settled, we were left with 123 winners, which are documented on the following pages.

That’s not to say that those not chosen as Editors’ Picks weren’t good products; to be sure, we received few stinkers. But the winners delivered in spades in three key areas:

Innovation: Originality, new packaging application, ingredient enhancement, ability to grow or develop a new or existing category, new flavor/variety/portion size, etc.

Taste/Functionality: How did the product live up to taste/quality expectations, or functional attributes?

Value: How did the product’s overall value proposition deliver on price, time and convenience?

Some winners employed novel packaging applications to simplify preparation or consumption and otherwise add value to products. For example: Musco’s Pearls Olives to Go, Home Chef Kitchen On the Plate entrées, Stemilt/Sunkist Lil Snappers mini apples and oranges, Tasteful Selections Microwave Potatoes, and Wholly Guacamole 100-Calorie Snack Packs.

Some winners were entirely new concepts. For example: French’s Flavor Infuser Marinades are neat single-use syringes aimed at making roasting or grilling proteins easier and tastier. Perdue’s Boneless Skinless Seasoned Rotisserie Breast Roast delivers a great-tasting, low-shrink prepared food solution. And Raes Bee Free Honee fills a niche for vegans looking for guilt-free sweetness.

Some winners bring new life to mature categories. For example: Cool Whip Frosting, Miracle Whip Dipping Sauces, Sunsweet’s bread and brownies, and Old El Paso Stand ‘n Stuff tortillas.

And some winners we just thought were really cool, such as Among Friends cookie mixes, Farmer’s Garden pickles from Vlasic, and Hammond’s Pigs ‘n Taters chocolate bar.

But above all, our Editors’ Picks had to deliver on taste, and this year’s winners came through.

Our judging panel was quite diverse this year. On the front lines were PG’s own staff members, backed up by the extended personnel of Stagnito Media’s offices in Deerfield, Ill., and Jersey City N.J. Staffers shared many of the products with their families, who also weighed in. And we assembled informal focus groups including neighborhood PTA members and Girl Scout leaders — the moms who serve as gatekeepers to their families’ pantries.

So as all of us at PG wipe the crumbs from our shirtfronts toss away the food wrappers and pledge to start our new diets tomorrow we invite you to take a look at this year’s bumper crop of Editors’ Picks.

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