February 2007's Best New Products

February's best new food products include a candy and video game fusion from Nestle; shelf-stable chicken breasts from Bumble Bee Foods; flavored oven-roasted peanuts from Diamond Foods Inc,; Newman's Own Organics' breath mints; asian noodles and condiments from Ka-Me; and NutriPals Balanced nutrition bars and drinks from Abbott Laboratories.

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What tweens want: candy and video games

Nestle USA, Glendale, Calif., breaks ground with WonkaZoid, a wacky, fun-filled invention for tweens from the Willy Wonka Candy Factory. A combination of the two things tweens love most -- candy and video games -- the portable, affordable, colorful gadget keeps tweens entertained anytime, anywhere.

WonkaZoid is a hand-held, refillable candy dispenser with a video game that features Willy Wonka characters. Plus, each WonkaZoid comes with a full pack of Wonka candy. The introductory series includes four varieties to collect and play: Grape Strawberry Nerds, which comes with the Nerds Hockey game, starring the Oompa Loompas; Sour Nerds is partnered with the Nerds Freeze Tag game; SweeTarts is packaged with the SweeTarts Oompa Candy Flip game; and SweeTarts Shockers are tied to the challenging SweeTarts Shockers Shockball Showdown game.

WonkaZoid comes in a variety of eye-popping colors. Also included are stickers tweens can use to customize (or "skin") their WonkaZoid, making it uniquely theirs. As an added bonus, a promotional bar code is included on the back of each WonkaZoid, allowing tweens special discounts at select retailers.

"Marrying popular Wonka candy brands with video gaming represents the next level of imagination. It's the kind of 'gotta-have-it' fun that could only come from Wonka," says Tricia Bowles, public relations manager at Nestle Confections & Snacks.

Suggested retail price is $4.99 to $6.99.


New buzz at Bumble Bee

San Diego-based Bumble Bee Foods leaves the seafood aisle to hatch New Prime Fillet Chicken Breasts, shelf-stable, ready-to-eat, entrée-style whole chicken breasts that bring a nutritious, great tasting meal to the table in minutes.

Each individual 4-oz. serving contains a skinless and boneless grilled chicken breast that is fully cooked and kept fresh in an easy-open vacuum-sealed pouch (just like the ones used for tuna). Varieties include Garlic & Herb, Southwest Seasonings and Barbeque Sauce.

Just pop the pouch in the microwave for 30 seconds or heat in the oven or on the stovetop.

"In developing the new Prime Fillet Chicken Breasts, we wanted to give our consumers meal solutions that are not only easy to prepare, but those that can be part of a nutritious meal," says CEO Christopher Lischewski.

Suggested retail price is $2.99.


Making peanuts bolder

As the popularity of complex flavored snacks continues to rise, Diamond Foods Inc. Stockton, Calif., adds three new bold-flavored oven-roasted peanuts to its lineup.

Varieties include: Emerald Wasabi Oven Roasted Peanuts, with a distinct Japanese-influenced wasabi flavor and heat; Emerald Chipotle Oven Roasted Peanuts, featuring the flavor of Mexican chipotle chiles; and Emerald Barbeque Oven Roasted Peanuts, evoking the outdoors with a combination of sweet honey and smoky barbeque.

The new line of flavors is centered on peanuts, which account for 30 percent of snack nut dollar sales, according to Information Resources Inc., making it the leading snack nut on the market. More importantly, peanuts are a nutritious snack, rich in protein, fiber, vitamin E, thiamin, niacin and a host of other nutrients.

One of the distinct characteristics of this new line is that the flavor is baked into the nuts, so snackers don't end up with the seasonings sticking to their fingers.

"Given the popularity and health benefits of peanuts combined with America's love of bold flavors, it was the right time to introduce Emerald's new product line," says Andrew Burke, vice president of marketing. "Also, since our seasoned nuts don't cause an oily mess, it makes them a more viable snack option to be enjoyed anytime and anywhere, including the workplace."

Suggested retail price for reclosable 1-lb. value packs is $3.49, ergonomic 12-oz. canisters are $3.29 and check-out counter friendly 2.5-oz. pouches retail for 69 cents.


Even your breath can be organic

Aptos, Calif.-based Newman's Own Organics launches organic mints in four flavors: Wintergreen, Cinnamon, Ginger and Peppermint. Packed in eye-catching tins with colorful cover designs, they carry the USDA organic seal on the back ingredient panel.

All the flavors are made from organic sugar, organic corn syrup, gum arabic, natural flavor and rice bran extract. Cinnamon Mints have added beet juice. Three pieces contain 10 calories with 2g of sugar and no fat, sodium or protein.

"This is the first time we haven't used our familiar American Gothic style logo on the packaging," says Nell Newman, who appears in the logo with "Pa" Newman. "We were delighted with the illustrations for the tins and thought they'd be fun to use for other purposes after the mints are eaten. The inner paper does carry the familiar logo."

Suggested retail price is $2.39.


Authentic flavors of Asian cooking

Noodles are the foundation for Pan-Asian cuisine. Ka-Me, Saddlebrook, N.J., introduces two authentic Stir-Fry Noodles -- Hokkien (representing China) and Thai Rice (representing Thailand) -- packed in individual vacuum-sealed noodle pouches.

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