Five groups of entrepreneurial Texans from across the state had a lot to celebrate Thursday afternoon. As the collective winners of grocery giant H-E-B's third annual Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best contest, their innovative grocery items earned cash prizes totaling $90,000 and a coveted place on store shelves across the state.
The Texas Pie Company's original Pie Dough Puck earned the grand prize of $25,000 and a featured placement as an H-E-B Primo Pick. Hailing from Kyle, a small town near Austin, Texas Pie Company has been selling pies made with local and organic ingredients since 1988.
For the first time in the contest's history, two products tied for first place. Austin-area vendor KITCHUN makes allergy-conscious snacks that are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and grain-free. The company's NO-GRAIN-OLA granola and Batch, Please cookie mixes both earned prizes.
Houstonians Purav Patel and Aarti Garehgrat emerged from the city's 10 finalists to earn a first place prize of $20,000 for their Bagel Dots. Clearly inspired by the bagel bombs created at New York City's famous Milk Bar bakery, Bagel Dots are bite-sized bagel balls filled with cream cheese and other ingredients that can be eaten quickly and without the mess of a full-size bagel.
A judging panel of H-E-B executives, including H-E-B Houston president Scott McClelland, selected the winners based on criteria that included product quality, marketability and readiness for production as well as the makers’ suitability as retail suppliers.
The contest attracted more than 500 entries from 101 towns across Texas. H-E-B narrowed that down to 25 finalists who made presentations to the judges this week in Houston.
“The final presentations were phenomenal, showcasing a unique blend of creativity, resolve, and purpose,” said H-E-B's James Harris in a statement. “As we celebrate the third year of competition we have enjoyed the inventiveness that our fellow Texans continue to showcase.”
Those who are inspired by the contest to develop their own ideas can take heart that H-E-B will continue it in years to come. Next year's final selections will be made in Austin.