2005 Innovation Awards: Works of Art

Our editors, readers and advisors pick the masterpieces of 2005 (and a couple of potboilers) with an eye toward healthier eating.

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Premium tuna in a pouch
StarKist, Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea bag it


For a generation of landlubbers, tuna was “chunk white” and it lived in a can. Without familiarity of the shore or the help of upscale restaurants, not much more was expected, and the end result was almost always tuna salad or a casserole.

The retortable pouch brought not only ease and convenience to an expected set of food products (rice, baby food, even ground beef) but also delectable and fresh-like seafood to the inland masses. In the words of the marketers at Bumble Bee, the pouch “helped to take the mystery, and even anxiety, out of fish preparation … These delicious tuna steaks share the healthful benefits of fresh fish, yet in a much more convenient form.”

Once feared by many, seafood now was ready to eat in 15-30 seconds, precooked and wonderfully marinated. And with potentially no cleanup.

Bumble Bee got the ball rolling in January with its Prime Fillet Albacore Steak entrées. They are available in Lemon & Pepper, Ginger & Soy and Mesquite Grilled varieties.

Del Monte followed suit this September with StarKist Tuna Fillets in Albacore Lemon & Cracked Pepper, Light Meat Teriyaki and Light Meat Lightly Seasoned.

While it appears to be abstaining from the fillet fight, Chicken of the Sea has a premium-quality albacore tuna in chunks in a pouch. The company’s pioneering act this year was wild-caught, wood-smoked Pacific salmon in a foil pouch. The bolder flavor and top-quality fish allows everyday cooks to make restaurant-quality meals and appetizers. And at the end of 2004, Chicken of the Sea claimed to be first with a line of pouched shellfish, including crab, shrimp, clams, smoked oysters and imitation crab. The shellfish pouches are single-serve items, at 3-3.53-oz. each. –Dave Fusaro


Kraft 100 Calorie Packs
When self-control alone won’t do


Inability to control portion size is one of the main reasons Americans are overweight. But it isn’t simply a matter of pushing oneself away from the table. Packaging labels are confusing, so much so that many consumers don’t bother to read them. And snacking, rather than regular meals, is a consequence of on-the-go lifestyles.

Kraft Foods’ Nabisco unit, East Hanover, N.J., made it simple and convenient to control both portion sizes and calories with 100 Calorie Packs of its best selling snacks. With only 100 calories, 0-3 g of total fat, no trans fat and no cholesterol, these preportioned snacks fall under both the relatively healthy and convenient categories. We chose this as one of our favorite products because it’s convenient, making life easier for time-impaired consumers – no weighing, no calculating, no guessing.

Varieties include: Oreo Thin Crisps, Chips Ahoy! Thin Crisps, Wheat Thins Minis, Kraft Cheese Nips Thin Crisps, Planter’s Peanut Butter Cookie Crisps, Honey Maid Cinnamon Thin Crisps and Ritz Snack Mix.

"Preportioned snacks like 100 Calorie Packs help you understand and track how many calories you are consuming in each snack occasion, while still enjoying the great-tasting favorites from brands you know and trust, " explains Joy Bauer, registered dietitian and author of The 90/10 Weight-Loss Plan. "Including the foods you love in a balanced eating plan can help you to stick with long-term healthy eating goals. The idea is to snack sensibly and in moderation by controlling how much and how often you eat. Preportioned, low-fat snacks can help make it a little easier." –Diane Toops


Haagen-Dazs Light, Dreyer's/Edy's Slow Churned
Technology churns out a healthier indulgence


Sometimes technology or at least process improvements are needed to bring about a decidedly improved product. Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Oakland, Calif., a year ago unveiled a proprietary manufacturing process similar to kneading dough that disperses fat and subsequently requires less.

Dreyer's/Edy's Slow Churned Grand Light ice creams, with 50 percent less fat and 30 percent fewer calories, made their grand debut in 2004. The launch was so successful, Dreyer’s came out with a similarly processed Haagen-Dazs Light this year.

Delivering a superpremium light ice cream with the taste consumers expect from the brand, but with 50 percent less fat (5g vs. 16g) and 29 percent fewer calories (190 vs. 268) than original superpremium ice cream, seems like an oxymoron. But the proprietary European process, which uses slow, low-temperature blending, allows Haagen-Dazs to use the same all-natural ingredients (such as egg yolks) that are incorporated in its full-fat ice creams without the addition of artificial sweeteners, fat substitutes or air. Indulgent flavors include: Dutch Chocolate, Dulce de Leche, Cherry Fudge Truffle, Coffee, S’mores, Vanilla Bean and Mint Chip. What’s more appealing than true indulgence with half the fat and fewer calories? –Diane Toops

Honorable mention: Dreyer’s/Edy’s Dibs

Dreyer’s/Edy’s, a Nestle affiliate, further shook our bon-bon this summer with the introduction of Dibs, bite-sized poppable coated ice cream bon-bon snacks. Packaged in an easy-to-share 9-oz. container containing more than 60 pieces, Dibs are available in five varieties – Vanilla ice cream with Nestlé Crunch coating; Vanilla ice cream with Nestlé Drumstick cone coating, Mint ice cream with chocolaty coating, Vanilla ice cream with chocolaty coating and Chocolate ice cream with chocolaty coating. Dibs prove that ice cream bon bons are a wonderful and fun way to share a tasty snack with those you care for. They also are a simple way to control portions. Now, if only we can get them into movie theaters.

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