by Andrea Doyle | March 26, 2015
The Chew. Hell's Kitchen. Chopped. Top Chef. All of these TV shows depict America's fascination with cooking. People's tastes have become more sophisticated and many yearn to try new and inventive products. Coinciding with this trend is the popularity of gourmet food products for incentives.

"Tailoring food gifts to a recipient's taste shows thoughtful consideration and contributes to relationship building because it shows you took the time to care," says Yvonne Szikla, founder and president of San Diego-based Affairs with Flair, a full-service event planning firm.

When done right, a gourmet gift can be an effective motivator. "Food has emotional connections. It can provide comfort, illicit positive memories, or just plain taste good," adds Szikla.

A fruit-of-the-month club just keeps giving month after month. Wine, beer, cheese, and even a hot-sauce-of-the-month clubs are popular as well, including those from Harry & David.

"People love to eat. We are a society of eaters," says Michael D. Robinson, JD, president, and chief fishing officer of Lobster Gram. "When you give a Lobster Gram as an incentive, it is not only about the food but the fresh, fantastic and unforgettable experience." Packages include live or frozen lobster tails that weigh from 5 to 24 ounces, including tails from all over the world.

Steak is also a classic when it comes to incentives, and one of the best-known companies in this arena is Omaha Steaks. The family-owned company markets and distributes a wide variety of the finest quality USDA-approved, grain-fed beef and other gourmet foods from its famous filet mignons to succulent seafood, pork, poultry, sides, and desserts. Its B2B division specializes in helping companies run successful motivation, promotion, and reward programs by handling all program fulfillments and supplying program support. There are many gourmet selections, and custom packages can also be created. Omaha can even ship in bulk for on-site distribution at events.

For a sweet treat, high-end chocolates are hard to resist. Godiva helps premium and incentive and special markets customers create award-winning programs with its popular assortment of world-class chocolates, truffles, cocoa, and delectable biscuits.

Fatty Sundays and its toffee chocolate-covered pretzels are gaining traction in the incentive market. At only $6.95 a box, they are inexpensive incentives for employees.

Shari's Berries, famous for its decadent, gourmet dipped berries and treats, has sent more than 25 million dipped berries in the last year. One of its most popular incentive products are its full dozen gourmet dipped premium strawberries. The gourmet dipped strawberries are available in milk, dark, and white.