December 2005 New Food Rollout

A look at holiday products: new beef cut; Jones' unusual soda flavors; Eagle dessert in a kit; brown sugar Splenda; Ore-Ida frozen roasted potatoes; a gift for Fido; a better butter wrapper.

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By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor

Gather 'round the Turkey... and Gravy Soda

It wouldn't be the holidays without Turkey and Gravy Soda.

For the third year in a row, quirky Jones Soda Co., Seattle, is producing the eyebrow-raising concoction, and for the second year, it's being teamed with equally questionable holiday-themed flavors in gift packs that also benefit charities.

Turkey and Gravy Soda is the main course of both packs. The National Pack adds Brussels Sprout with Prosciutto, Cranberry Sauce, Wild Herb Stuffing and Pumpkin Pie – all those are sodas. The Regional Pack substitutes Broccoli Casserole, Smoked Salmon Paté, Corn on the Cob and Pecan Pie.

The unlikely centerpiece, Turkey and Gravy Soda, caught Jones Soda by surprise in the drink's first year, 2003, when its supply of about 6,000 bottles sold out in less than two hours online. It returned last year in larger quantities in the first holiday pack, joined by Cranberry, Mashed Potato and Butter, Green Bean Casserole and Fruitcake sodas.

This year, Toys for Tots and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital will benefit from sales of the holiday packs.

The national packs are exclusively in Target stores. The regional packs are carried by select local retailers, including a number of Cost Plus World Markets. They are not available through the company web site. Price is $9.99 for either pack of five.


New beef cut created

There's a well-kept secret in the meat case: the Petite Tender Cut. It's a small but mighty cut developed on behalf of the Denver-based National Cattlemen's Beef Assn., and the research was funded through the $1-per-head Beef Checkoff Program.

A premium but lean beef cut that made its initial debut in fine restaurants, the Petite Tender provides a lower-cost option to cuts such as the New York Strip, Rib Eye, Filet Mignon and Porterhouse. This cut - also known as the Shoulder Tender, Shoulder Petite Tender and Beef Shoulder Filet - is a small, individual muscle located in the shoulder area.

Simple to prepare, the Petite Tender can be broiled whole, cut into thin slices for stir-fry or served as medallions. It provides a bundle of essential nutrients including zinc, iron, protein and many B vitamins, has a delicate flavor similar to beef tenderloin, but carries flavors well, so processors and restaurateurs find it very versatile. The shape and size of the cut (8-12 oz) are comparable to pork tenderloin.

"Given the tremendous success of the Flat Iron and Ranch Cut steaks in foodservice, the Petite Tender was destined to become an overnight sensation with chefs across the country and it did," says Jane Gibson, director of foodservice marketing for the NCBA. "Typically, food trends emerge in foodservice and transition to retail, so we expect the popularity of the Petite Tender to carry over to the meat case."

Suggested retail price is $3.99 to $6.99 per lb.


Roasted potatoes for your
holiday meal


Pittsburgh's H.J. Heinz Co., introduces Ore-Ida Roasted, the perfect complement to your holiday roast or turkey. Ore-Ida Roasted are diced potatoes covered with savory seasonings, packaged in a 20-oz., easy-open bag. Just pop them in the oven and the savory offerings are ready - soft inside and crisp outside - in 15 minutes. You can also pan fry or microwave them.

Ore-Ida Roasted are available in three varieties including: Original - seasoned with salt and cracked black pepper; Savory Herb - Lightly seasoned with thyme and basil; and Garlic and Parmesan - covered in garlic and Parmesan cheese seasonings.

Suggested retail price is $2.79.


Splenda in a shade of brown

McNeil Nutritionals LLC, Fort Washington, Pa., launches Splenda Brown Sugar Blend, a first-of-its-kind reduced calorie brown sugar product. A proprietary blend of brown sugar and Splenda sucralose, it provides an alternative to reduce sugar, calories and carbohydrates in traditional baking recipes.

A serving of Splenda Brown Sugar Blend has half the calories, half the sugar and half the carbohydrates of brown sugar and can be used anywhere brown sugar is used. That includes sprinkled atop a cup of hot cereal, baked in classic chocolate chip cookies or used in traditional holiday favorites, such as glazed ham, apple pie and streusel toppings.

The brown sugar in the product allows consumers more of the browning, rising, texture, moistness and molasses-like flavor characteristic of baked goods made with brown sugar. Consumers only need to use one-half cup of Splenda Brown Sugar Blend to replace the sweetness of a full cup of brown sugar.

Suggested retail price is $2.69 for a half-lb. bag and $4.69 for a 1 lb. bag.


Get a Gripz

Kellogg Co. Battle Creek, Mich., introduces Gripz snacks – "mighty tiny" versions of popular snacks Cheez-It baked snack crackers and Chips Deluxe chocolate chip cookies.

Designed for on-the-go tweens (children ages 8-12), Gripz come in portable "Rip 'n Tip" tubes that allow for an enjoyable snack experience anywhere kids choose. Tweens simply "rip" the packaging and "tip" the tube for a snack. Each box of Gripz contains nine easy-to-open portion-controlled (Gripz Cheez-It snacks contain 120 calories, while Gripz Chips Deluxe contain 130 calories) snack packs, making them perfect for backpacks, lunch boxes and purses or while holiday shopping. They make great stocking stuffers, too. (Check out this month's Food Biz Kids feature to read what our 7th graders had to say about Gripz.)

"Tweens look for unique snack options that can travel with them throughout their busy day," says Jenny Enochson, senior director of marketing communications. "Gripz provide kids with the freedom to have a great-tasting, convenient snack anytime, anywhere."

Suggested retail price is $3.49 for an 8.1-oz. box containing nine individual Rip 'n Tip tubes.


Decadent holiday dessert … in a kit

Nothing enhances a holiday meal or adds sparkle to a holiday gathering more than the perfect dessert. Eagle Family Foods, Columbus, Ohio, introduces new Toffee Dream Bars into its Eagle Brand Premium Dessert Kits. The line includes pre-measured, premium ingredients for the recipe except liquid items (oil, water or butter). Simple directions (no more than four steps per kit) are used to create desserts in about 15 minutes for consumers who lack the time to create a dessert from scratch.

The Toffee Dream Bars kit includes Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, chocolate chips, toffee chips and shortbread crust mix. It joins an indulgent dessert kit line that already includes: Decadent Fudge; Magic Cookie Bars; Peanut Butter Passion; Turtle Temptations and Pumpkin Pie Gems.

"Our kits are simple to make and include the premium ingredients our discriminating consumers demand," says Paula Ryan, marketing director. "Our Toffee Dream Bars dessert is no exception in both convenience and quality. We expect it to become a holiday entertaining staple."

Suggested retail price is $3.99 to $4.99.


Good karma for Fido

Don't forget your best friend. Natura Pet Products, San Jose, Calif., launches Karma Organic, an organic line of meat-based dog foods. They contain 18 certified organic ingredients and were created in adherence with human food quality standards.

Natura follows programs assuring environmentally sound ingredient transport, storage and handling, processing, warehousing, shipping and handling. And the packaging of Karma is made with 100 percent recyclable material. In addition, a portion of the proceeds is donated to help animals in need.

"If we wouldn't eat it ourselves, we don't put in the food we make," says co-founder Peter Atkins. "Your pet's health is just as important as your own."

Suggested retail price for a 4-lb. bag is $12.99-$15.99.


A new wrap for butter

Consumers who don't use butter as quickly as I do often find that it begins to taste like everything else in the refrigerator. Arden Hills, Minn.-based Land O'Lakes now wraps individual sticks of Land O'Lakes Salted and Unsalted butter (both 1-lb. and half-lb. packages) in a new Flavor Protect Wrapper, especially designed to keep the butter fresher for longer.

It looks and feels similar to the familiar wax paper, still includes tablespoon and cup measurements, and you can cut through it just as easily. The butter tastes fresh and exactly the same. Even more delightful, the company has not passed the cost of this innovation along to the consumer.

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