Retailers are lending a hand to a traveling cooking demonstration that uses a variety of fresh food items found in their stores, including produce. The venue, called the Southern Living Cooking Show, is presented by Southern Living Magazine.
For each of the 60, two-hour cooking shows, which are held from March to mid-June and again from September to November, retailers are donating all the foods.
"Our role as a sponsor is getting the word out to the public and then also being the food participant as far as providing them with the fresh products that they need for the school itself," said Rick James, president of Piggly Wiggly, Memphis, Tenn. Piggly Wiggly is one of the retail sponsors, selling tickets through Ticketmaster outlets located at the retailer's courtesy counter.
According to James, the cooking classes allow consumers that cook at home to learn new food preparation techniques and discover new foods.
"It gives them some new ideas and puts them into another part of the store that maybe they haven't been to," said James. "It may get them to try some new produce items or a different cut of meat that they really haven't thought about."
"There's great advantages to preparing meals at home for your family, but a lot of times people have difficulty adding the excitement and theater that comes with a restaurant," he added.
Other retailers participating in the spring leg of the tour are Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla.; Super Fresh, a division of A&P, Montvale, N.J.; Winn-Dixie Stores, Jacksonville, Fla.; United Super Markets, Lubbock, Texas; Super One Food, Tyler, Texas; Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif.; Kroger Co., Cincinnati; H.E. Butt Grocery Co., San Antonio, Calif.; Jitney-Jungle Stores of America, Jackson, Miss.; Gooding's Supermarkets, Apopka, Fla.; Harris Teeter, Charlotte, N.C., and Brookshire Grocery Co., Tyler, Texas, which also co-sponsored the cooking shows in its area.
Retailers promote their involvement by displaying shippers that contain coupons for products by sponsor manufacturers, and using bag-stuffers that publicize the show and recipes.
Retailers are provided with signs and shelf-talkers that are installed by the sponsors' products.
The retailers sell tickets to the classes and lend their names to local newspaper advertisements. The cost of the tickets varies from city to city, depending on sponsorships and other financial factors.
The shows are popular, and they must be held in large spaces such as college auditoriums and civic centers. According to a spokesperson for Southern Living Magazine, 60,000 people attended the shows last year, an average draw of 2,000 people per show.