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The Vidalia Onion Committee in Vidalia, GA, is targeting certain regions of the United States this year with the specific goals of increasing brand awareness and increasing rings at the retail cash registers.

Wendy Brannen, executive director of the committee, visited Louisiana in early June as part of a partnership featuring a series of cooking demonstrations at Rouses Markets in the state. On Saturday, June 13, Ms. Brannen was at the Rouses Market store at 400 N. Carrollton Avenue in New Orleans, where she met consumers and educated them about Vidalia sweet onions.

More than 100 customers stopped by the cooking station to taste specially prepared recipes from Chef Daniel (Shoney) Lima of Juan's Flying Burrito, a popular local eatery. Those who sampled were impressed with the sweet taste of Vidalia onions, which were perfectly complemented by fresh fruit flavors in a Vidalia onion and mango chutney served over rotisserie chicken and a Vidalia onion and peach salsa for dipping.

"I was pleased to see that many people in Louisiana were already familiar with and like our onions. Some people thought our onions were from Vidalia, Louisiana, though, and didn't realize we are a seasonal product available only in spring and summer and that Vidalias can grow only in a small region here in Georgia," Ms. Brannen said in a press release. "For their part, Rouses Markets went above and beyond, from educating their team about our product, to prominent placement of Vidalias, to the warm welcome they gave us in their stores."

In addition to New Orleans, consumers embraced the Vidalia cooking demonstrations throughout the state. Demo leaders indicated that displays had to be constantly replenished as people bought bag after bag of Vidalia onions, making this a successful partnership for both the Vidalia Onion Committee and Rouses Markets.

This series of cooking demonstrations is another way in which the Vidalia Onion Committee has promoted its Sweet Times with Vidalias Recipe Contest, which runs through Aug. 15. Contestants can win one of three cash prizes by submitting a favorite Vidalia onion recipe with a warm memory or story about cooking with Vidalias.