Rollout: December 2003

New products from Fresh Express, Kellogg's, Walkers, Heinz, Betty Crocker and General Mills

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Fresh Express has a brand new bag

Salinas, Calif.-based Fresh Express has rolled out three varieties of Premium Salad Blends , Everything but the Dressing just in time for the holidays. The product is available in three varieties: Spring Mix with Cranberries & Walnuts (4.5- oz.), Baby Spinach Salad with Cranberries & Almonds (5.5-oz.) and Romaine & Radicchio Salad with Parmesan-Romano & Garlic Croutons (8.75-oz.). Open the bag, sprinkle on the complimentary toppings (individually packaged to preserve quality and flavor) and add your own dressing. "Ever since Fresh Express invented the blends segment for ready-to-eat salads in 1991, we have focused on combining different lettuce varieties and mixes of specialty lettuces that match consumer preferences and leading salad trends," says Christine Keller, marketing executive for Fresh Express. "We are especially excited about this new line because it offers the most popular lettuces and greens like Spring Mix and Baby Spinach and pairs them with terrific gourmet toppings, so everything's in the bag but the dressing. Fresh Express is also the only manufacturer in the industry to use a specially engineered Tender Leaf Processing System to gently wash the young, fragile greens," she said. "Of course, convenience, nutrition, freshness and flavor continue as the major drivers behind fresh packaged salads and the strong success of the category overall," she added. Suggested retail price is $3.29 to $3.79.

Savory shortbread for the holidays

Aberlour-on-Spey, Scotland-based Walkers is celebrating its 105th birthday with a variety of products that are perfect for holiday entertaining. They include: Festive Shapes Shortbread , pure butter shortbread cookies formed as stars, bells, Christmas trees and smiling Santa ($4.99 SRP), microwaveable Luxury Fruit Mince Tarts , made with dried apples, currants, sultanas and candied citrus peel $6.99 SRP), and Cheese Shortbread ($3.99 SRP) that has a distinctive British Cheddar cheese tang. Or one can stock up on Walkers Oatcakes ($3.99 SRP) , which were awarded a Royal Warrant of Appointment as the Supplier of Oatcakes to the Queen, Cracked Black Pepper Oatcakes ($3.99 SRP), or Walkers light-as-air Meringue Nests and Shells ($6.79 SRP). All of Walkers products are baked in the secluded village of Aberlour in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, and can be paired very nicely with one's favorite Speyside single-malt Scotch whisky on a cold winter's night.

Comforting homemade desserts a snap

Almost 75 percent of families enjoy having dessert with dinner at home and 55 percent would like to serve it more often, according to a consumer study by Minneapolis-based General Mills Inc., but only 14 percent of families serve it. Why? According to the 2003 National Panel Data, Eating Patterns in America, people say dessert requires too much effort and time to prepare. Betty Crocker Complete Desserts Mixes have been rolled out nationally to solve the dessert dilemma. Available in three varieties: Southern-Style

Peach Cobbler, Classic Cherry Cobbler and Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp, these desserts are ready in minutes. Each package includes Comstock real fruit and a pouch of dessert topping mix. Simply spread the fruit in the pan, add water and spoon or sprinkle the topping onto the fruit, and , voila! , four minutes from box to oven. Baking time is approximately 30 minutes. "We believe serving desert enhances family dinner time," says Steve Young, Betty Crocker marketing manager. "When everyone sits down to dinner, they are hungry and intent on eating. But when the dinner plates are cleared and dessert is served, the atmosphere changes. People relax and linger at the table as they enjoy dessert together." Suggested retail price is $3.79, and the package serves six.

Tony's brand new cereal

It took 51 years, but Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg's has provided an alternative breakfast choice for fans of Tony the Tiger, the iconic spokes-tiger for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes. Tony's Cinnamon Krunchers isn't simply an extension. The product is rice-based rather than corn-based, as Frosted Flakes are, and the crispy flakes are coated in cinnamon, the fastest-growing cereal flavor in the children's market. In fact cinnamon based cereals have grown by 39 percent in the past four years. Happily, the cinnamon flavor is not lost when milk is added and the cereal stays crunchy in the bowl. I also enjoyed it as a crunchy snack right out of the box. We caught up with Tony while he was having breakfast. Asked to describe his new cereal creation, he enthusiastically responded, "They're gr-r-reat!" Suggested retail price is $3.79.

Yu-Gi-Oh! cereal brightens store shelves

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a hit Japanese comic book series that follows the adventures of high school student Yugi, who has a magical secret that comes to life when he plays his favorite card game Duel Monsters. It is also the No. 1 trading card game and one of the top selling Game Boy Advance games in the U.S. The Yu-Gi-Oh! phenomenon inspired Minneapolis-based General Mills, in partnership with 4Kids Entertainment, to create limited-edition cereal bars, yogurt, fruit snacks and Yu-Gi-Oh! cereal, honey sweetened corn made into triangular pieces representing Yugi's mystical Millennium Medallion. It's boxed in spectacular metallic and holographic packaging that practically jumps off store shelves. "We've captured the essence of Yugi and his favorite monsters in both our cereal and its packaging to deliver a product Yu-Gi-Oh! fans will love," says Steve Vekich, marketing manager for promotional cereals. If consumers react the same way as our office staff did, it will be tough for General Mills to keep Yu-Gi-Oh! stocked on shelves. Suggested retail price is $2.49

Marinading easy as ABC

Pittsburgh, Pa.-based H.J. Heinz Co.'s EZ Marinader is a ready-to-use liquid marinade in a flavor-seal marinating bag and the first new Heinz brand rolled out in the U.S. in 20 years. It's as easy as ABC! First, open the flavor-seal bag, which has a zipper closure. Next, drop in your favorite meat, poultry, vegetables or fish. The pouch has a foil lining for strength, so it doesn't leak. Then reseal the bag and you're ready to grill, bake or saute in as little as 30 minutes. That's it! There's no fuss, no muss, and clean-up is a breeze -- just toss away the bag. EZ Marinader is available in three flavors: Jack Daniel's Mesquite (my favorite), Classico Garlic and Herb, and Mr. Yoshida's Teriyaki. Each 12-ounce bag is large enough to accommodate 2-3 pounds of meat, poultry or similar-sized serving of vegetables -- enough to feed a family of four. "With EZ Marinader, consumers can have a level of convenience never before experienced in the category," says Aaron Schwartz, brand manager for Ketchup, Condiments and Sauces at Heinz North America, the innovators behind EZ Marinader. "By pouring on the flavor while eliminating the mess and clean up, EZ Marinader takes marinating to a whole new level of taste and convenience. Simply put, if you like marinating, you'll love EZ Marinader." Suggested retail price is $2.99.

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