Top 10 Food Brands of 2005

Our picks for those trademarks that have withstood the test of time and forged an emotional connection with consumers.

By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor

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Incidentally, consumers are responsible for the nickname Coke. At first, the company frowned on the practice, fearing loss of identity, but when customers persisted, Coca-Cola registered the nickname too (after winning a Supreme Court decision to do so in 1920).

Today, Coca-Cola has some 400 brands in its portfolio and is a proponent of strong local brands including Inca Kola, a soft drink found in North and South America; Samurai, an energy drink available in Asia; and Vita, an African juice drink. Its products are available in 200 countries, in fact, more than 70 percent of the company's sales are derived from outside of North America. Although Coca-Cola is committed to local markets around the world, the Coca-Cola brand remains a symbol of American ingenuity and consistency, and some 1.3 billion servings are poured each day.

All around the world, a Coke is a Coke. This core value - product quality - makes it a great and lasting brand.

Frito-Lay: Chipping away the competition through innovation

Perhaps no food category is so dominated by a single set of brands. Frito-Lay Inc., Plano, Texas, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, is the largest snack food maker in the world. It has a 60 percent share of the U.S. core salty snack food market and a 40 percent share of the global market. It owns more than 15 brands with sales of $100 million or more each, including Cheetos cheese flavored snacks, Cracker Jack candy coated popcorn, Doritos flavored tortilla chips, Fritos corn chips, Lay's potato chips, Lay's Stax potato crisps, Munchies snack mix, Rold Gold pretzels, Ruffles potato chips, Sun Chips multigrain snacks and Tostitos tortilla chips. These brands are sold in more than 120 countries for sales of more than $13 billion annually. Frito-Lay also sells a variety of branded dips.

Frito-Lay brands appeal to an extraordinarily diverse array of consumers. The brand recognizes the ever-diversifying population and strives to deliver authentic flavors and products. Through its world-class innovative research and development, Frito-Lay has developed unique snack products with their own identities and conducts relevant promotions for every consumer. It owns the top five brands in the Salty Snacks category: (in order) Lay's, Doritos, Tostitos, Ruffles and Cheetos, according to Brandweek's Superbrands - America's Top Brands. Frito-Lay brands are hip, contemporary, exciting, unique, they incorporate changing consumer preferences and deliver innovation and consistency.

Frito-Lay has it roots during the height of the Depression. In 1932, Elmer Doolin entered a small San Antonio cafe and purchased a bag of corn chips to eat with his sandwich. For $100, Doolin purchased the recipe for "Doritos," plus19 retail accounts and the manufacturing equipment - a converted hand-operated potato ricer - because the maker of the corn chips was eager to sell his small business and return home to Mexico.

That same year in Nashville, Tenn., Herman W. Lay started a business distributing Gardner's Potato Chips from his Model A Ford. Lay later bought the company that supplied him with product and changed its name to H.W. Lay Co. The Frito Co. and H.W. Lay Co. merged in 1961 to become Frito-Lay Inc., the largest snack selling company in the U.S. On June 8, 1965, shareholders approved the merger of Frito-Lay and Pepsi-Cola Co., and a huge new company called PepsiCo Inc. was formed.

Frito-Lay's ability to read the public's desire for healthier products pushed it ahead of the pack, garnering good publicity along the way by completing a conversion to zero grams of trans fats in its Doritos, Tostitos and Cheetos snack brands. In 2003, well in advance of the USDA's 2006 mandate, Frito-Lay was the first brand to change the Nutrition Facts panel on the back of packaging to include a trans fat content line. Lay's, Ruffles, Fritos and Rold Gold Pretzels always contained zero grams of trans fat, which now makes their entire line of branded snacks zero-trans products.

Hershey's: A recipe for success

Hershey is synonymous with chocolate in the U.S. Most Americans count at least one Hershey product as their favorite. The Hershey Co. is the largest North American manufacturer of both chocolate and non-chocolate confectionery, with revenues over $4 billion, has more than 13,000 employees worldwide and exports products to over 90 countries. It markets such iconic brands as Hershey's, Reese's, Hershey's Kisses, Kit Kat, Almond Joy, Mounds, York, Jolly Rancher, Twizzlers, Ice Breakers and Bubble Yum, as well as newer products such as Swoops and Hershey's S'mores.

From it's very inception, the company produced its own style of chocolate, added products that appeal to large numbers of consumers and packaged them simply - always emphasizing the Hershey brand, which stands for consistency and value.

Hershey's connection with the American Dream cannot be denied. Milton Hershey's rags-to-riches success story resonates with the multicultural generations of America. That determined pioneer's story captures our imagination; someone with a great product that works hard can reap rewards (and have a town named after him).

After building his own milk-processing plant in 1894 and working day and night for three years, Milton Hershey became the first American to perfect a formula of milk, sugar and cocoa for manufacturing milk chocolate - a process that had been a closely guarded secret by the Swiss. It enabled him to mass-produce and distribute milk chocolate candy with a shelf life. What had once been a luxury for the rich was to become an enjoyment that anyone could afford - the Hershey Bar. Always wrapped in a rich, brown wrapper, its color is evocative of the chocolate it contains.

Looking to expand its product line, the company in 1907 began producing a flat-bottomed, conical milk chocolate candy – Hershey's Kisses Chocolates. At first, they were individually wrapped in little squares of silver foil, but in 1921 machine wrapping was introduced. That technology also was used to add the familiar "plume" at the top to signify to consumers that it is a genuine Hershey's Kiss.

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