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The Verge Trailer Awards at CES 2016: the best of behind-the-scenes

Featuring pissed-off preachers, drone cops, pomegranate liquid, and friendship

If you’ve spent the week breathlessly following all of our CES coverage, you’re probably familiar with The Verge Awards. It’s the space we use to recognize the coolest, funniest, most impressive things we saw in Las Vegas this week, and it’s full of products and experiences we’re going to remember long after we leave the desert. If I had to pick one thing that left a mark on me, though, I wouldn’t pick an electric car or a set of wireless earbuds: I’d pick the trailer.

I typically work remotely from Canada, so the chance to spend a full week with all of the co-workers I only ever see in Slack and on Twitter was one of the most promising aspects of CES for me. I still believe that, even after spending 18 hours a day together in a cramped and stinky double-wide with the majority of the people we employ. The trailer isn’t opulent or even particularly well-ventilated, but it’s been our home, and it deserves to be recognized.

That’s why we’re creating The Verge’s first-annual Trailer Awards, a cousin of our flagship awards post that highlights the best and worst of our CES trailer experience. After flipping through them, you’ll have a better handle on the glory, pain, and camaraderie that comes with spending a week in the convention center’s parking lot. I can’t imagine doing CES any other way.

best casual health product trailer

Best Casual Health Product:

Advil and fizzy packets of Emergen-C put up a solid fight, but the dark-horse winner in our first category are the 2-in-1 lozenges that prevented both coughs and sore throats. Anyone who had to record a video after five days of sub-optimal sleep can attest to the transformative powers of Ricola.

Best Cold Beverage, Alcoholic:

Corona Extra takes the crown over Heineken, which was… the only other option. (A potential line of inquiry: why were the only two beers offered in the trailer both imports?) I didn’t know we had limes kicking around until Thursday night, and their discovery was a total game-changer.

best cold beverage trailer

Best Cold Beverage, Non-Alcoholic:

I’m still not sure how to describe the IZZE pomegranate drinks kept stocked all week — soda? Juice? "Sparkling fizzy beverage partially from concentrate?" — but I can confirm it was delicious. (No disrespect to good ol’ water, though, which revitalized our dried-out husks on a daily basis.)

Best Comment on the Trailer’s Olfactory State:

This one goes to the woman who came into the trailer on Friday night and immediately said, "Ugh, it smells like armpit in here" after being greeted with relative warmth. She wasn’t wrong, but it still stung.

Best Debate:

Watching the esteemed Vlad Savov argue with our fearless troll-in-chief Nilay Patel over the inclusion of Razer’s Blade Stealth gaming ultrabook in The Verge Awards was like watching two rams butt heads in the desert outside the Strip. One of the rams is fighting passionately for something; the other one’s mostly locking horns for a laugh. It’s a wonder more sparks don’t fly after five days of wall-to-wall gadget blogging!

best dinner trailer

Best Dinner:

Having been conditioned by my co-workers to expect an endless parade of sandwich trays, Tuesday night’s make-your-own-BBQ platter was a surprise and a delight, especially after what ended up being the busiest day of the week. The jalapeno cornbread and heaping piles of meat were the perfect medicine after a day of frenzied liveblogging and warp-speed Pepcom floor hits.

Best Despairiscope (presented by @CaseyNewton):

I didn’t actually have a chance to watch this Despairiscope — a broadcast that revolved around our business editor Ben Popper’s potential pink-eye and the dangers of raising children — but my co-workers assure me it stood head-and-shoulders above all of Casey’s other dispatches from the front.

Best Hot Beverage:

The only answer is coffee. Bless you, Starbucks vat.

Bread bowls stale enough to crack a tooth

Best Lunch:

The bread bowls might’ve been stale enough to crack a tooth, but the smoky chili and tomato basil soups stood out in a category filled with sandwiches, wraps, and other bread-centric products. (The soups were no exception, I guess, but at least they involved a creative form factor.) The presences of all-star condiments and toppings like bacon and Tabasco sauce made the choice all too easy.

Best Planning Meeting:

Our Monday night meeting preceded the show’s most hectic day, and it didn’t start in earnest until a big group came back from CES Unveiled after 10:00PM. Everyone had to work on embargoed material after the meeting finished, and the meeting itself was spent breaking down the horrors of the week to come. All of that sounds terrible, and yet it felt a little like we were steeling ourselves for combat together the night before jumping into the fray. Score one for team bonding.

Best Row of Seats:

It feels a little silly picking one collection of glass, metal, plastic, and cabling over another, but the row of seats that’s second from the kitchen makes a compelling argument for its supremacy. It’s close to the TV that hosts streamed keynotes and the dry-erase board where we plan our days; it’s just a hop away from the kitchen, where we keep the food and drink that sustains us; most importantly, it’s close to the door, handy for both ventilation and escape purposes. I tried a few different seating areas this week, but I kept coming back to this one.

We're all hell-bound, sinful abominations

Best Soundtrack:

I have to thank the fire-and-brimstone preacher who lurked on the street corner near the trailer for repeatedly assuring us we’re all hell-bound, sinful abominations. When I was nearing rock-bottom in terms of fatigue and general CES malaise, he reminded me there was still at least one person out there crazier than I felt. (We eventually gave up and drowned him out with chill beats.)

best stream keynote trailer

Best Streamed Keynote:

Intel may have invented the opposite of rock ‘n’ roll at its keynote on Wednesday night, but it turns out that wearable painting, "reinvented fireworks experiences," and mangled, gestural versions of "Jai Ho" make for much-needed levity when you’re watching them on a big screen with your co-workers.

Best Traitor:

This year’s best traitor is Mashable’s Sam Sheffer: rideable enthusiast, dashing rogue, guileless Millennial, real friend.

"Who was flying a drone out there?"

Best Violation of Clark County By-Laws:

When an unnamed employee of The Verge decided to engage in some casual, trailer-adjacent drone flight one mid-week morning, he ended up rewarding us all with a visit from an infuriated, fully-uniformed Clark County police officer. "Who was flying a drone out there?" He was barking, walkie-talkie strapped to his hip like it was ready to shoot. "If I see another one, you’re out of here." We all stared at our laptops until he went away.

And finally, Best in Trailer:

I’m not giving Best in Trailer to a particular food item, piece of technology, or headache remedy. Instead, I’m giving to all The Verge staff who attended CES this year. CES has left me dehydrated, homesick, fatigued, and generally burnt to a crisp. I can’t imagine surviving it without the ambient support of three dozen other people going through the same thing. I can’t wait to get out of here, but I’m still going to be sad leaving it behind, and that’s a mix of feelings that compels me to give the biggest made-up prize in this made-up awards series to my co-workers.