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story.lead_photo.caption Joan Reece, left, and Kay Lynn York, owners of Atlanta, Texas-based To The Moon Family Foods, have earned a place in H-E-B grocery stores. (Photo courtesy of Kay Lynn York)

The new little food company in Atlanta, Texas, is finally off and running. To The Moon Family Foods owners Kay Lynn York and Joan Reece have competed in the "H-E-B's Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best," an annual contest held by H-E-B Grocery Stores based in San Antonio, and won third place overall out of 800 products, earning them a spot on H-E-B shelves, plus a check for $10,000.

"We've been working so hard on this for about a year now," said Kay Lynn. "We've attended a couple of food shows now and when we made the Top 20 finalists we began working on our final presentation. It was so good, I wasn't worried, and we are thrilled to get third place!"

To The Moon Family Foods started with Joan's original recipes, which she developed over years of cooking before starting her 30-year run as a caterer in the Atlanta area. For this contest, they chose to enter her Nutty Carrot Spread, which is being served at a restaurant chain in California, and on the shelves of a San Francisco grocery store. The product will be mass-produced at co-packer Ron's Manufacturing in Houston beginning next week.

The winners received a combined $80,000 in cash prizes and a chance to have their products in the grocer's stores. The competition had more than 800 entries from nearly 140 Texas cities. Judges narrowed it down to 20 finalists after two qualifying rounds before choosing the winners on Aug. 8. Products were judged on customer appeal, value, uniqueness, market potential, and differentiation from current products at most H-E-B stores.

The judges were Cory Basso, H-E-B group vice president of advertising; Juan Alonso, H-E-B regional vice president of the Houston division, South region and Mi Tienda; Justin Tippet, H-E-B director of human resources San Antonio/West division; Chef Charlotte Samuel, H-E-B culinary nutritionist and product development chef; Tanji Patton, Goodtaste TV executive producer; Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle food writer; and Winell Herron, H-E-B group vice president of public affairs, diversity and environmental affairs.

With 400 stores in Texas and Mexico, H-E-B is listed as No.6 on Progressive Grocer's 2019 Super 50 list of Top Grocer's in the United States. They currently have no locations in the Ark-La-Tex.



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