Event Recap: IFT FIRST 2023


A wide shot of the IFT FIRST event focused on the eye-catching Bell Flavors & Fragrances booth.

A few members of the S/B team visited Chicago this July to explore the vast lands of the IFT FIRST annual expo. In addition to meeting a ton of great people in the ingredient industry (and eating more sugar than any doctor would recommend), our team paid particular attention to the booths themselves. We do design tradeshow booths, after all.

These observations confirmed what we here at S/B have always believed—getting creative and thinking outside the box is the key to success at a crowded show like IFT, where so many booths get lost in the sea of sameness.

Case in point: Bell Flavors & Fragrances’ booth, which took on a 90s theme of “newstalgic.”

Cups of edible citrus-lime green slime on a table at Bell’s booth next to their newstalgic 90s menu.

What made this booth our favorite?

To put it simply, it broke the mold of clean white backgrounds and natural woods photographed under a few carefully placed whole ingredients, and made you feel less like you were at a B2B expo, but instead at a cool new pop-up your friend said you just have to go to.

Bell’s team dressed in uniforms straight out of Saved by the Bell. Get it? Bell… Photo credit: Bell’s LinkedIn.

They capitalized on the very relevant trend of 90s nostalgia and turned their booth into a destination, weaving this theme flawlessly throughout every single piece. From the very cool uniforms every Bell team member wore (we kind of want one, honestly) to the bagel bites, green slime and glow-in-the-dark gummy worms being served and everything in between, not a single element was overlooked by the Bell team.

A glow-in-the-dark gummy worm, gummy lobster and gummy spider. Photo credit: Bell’s LinkedIn.

It’s no wonder this booth was teeming with people at any given moment. The strategy behind it all was just as sound as the execution. As Layne Hillesland, marketing specialist at Bell, explained to Food Ingredients First, “Consumers, whether they do it subconsciously or consciously, often lean toward products that remind them of a simpler time, perhaps of their childhood.”

With solid strategy, creative thinking and some serious attention to detail, Bell was bound to be a standout. In other words, wicked work, Bell.

If you’re in the market to stand out at a show (who isn’t?), shoot us a note. We’d love to help move your business forward.

See an example of one of our own outside-of-the-box trade show experiences right here.