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.

To accompany the noodles, Ka-Me also rolls out improved Southeast Asian Cooking Sauces sans artificial preservatives and MSG in three flavors: Red Curry, Green Curry and Peanut Satay (along with recipe suggestions). The company also debuts three improved Southeast Asian Condiments -- Sriracha Sauce, Sweet Chili Sauce and Fish Sauce -- which are produced in Thailand utilizing local ingredients.

Suggested retail price for the noodles is $2.49 to $2.79, the cooking sauces retail for $2.49 to $2.99, and the condiments sell for $1.99 to $2.99.


Clinical on-the-go snacks for kids

Snack time can draw a battle line between what children really want to eat and what moms know is smart. Abbott Laboratories' Ross division, Columbus, Ohio, which makes PediaSure, introduces NutriPals Balanced Nutrition Bars and Drinks, a new line of convenient snacks created specifically for children's discerning palates … and nutrition needs.

NutriPals Bars, available in S'mores, Strawberry Yogurt, Peanut Butter Chocolate and Peanut Butter & Jelly flavors, contain 5g of protein, 3g of fiber and 21 vitamins and minerals. NutriPals Drinks, available in Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry flavors, contain 44 percent less sugar per ounce than the leading kids yogurt drinks.

"Moms recognize that snacking is a prime opportunity to sneak in those important vitamins and minerals that round out a wholesome diet," says registered dietitian Elizabeth Ward, mother of three and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler. "New NutriPals provides smart nutrition and can help alleviate parents' worries about their child's snacking by supplying protein and more than 20 vitamins and minerals in delicious and convenient bars and drinks."

Suggested retail price for a six-count box of bars or a four-count box of drinks is $5.49.


Microwaveable quesadillas debut


Ruiz Foods, Dinuba, Calif., introduces El Monterey Grilled Quesadillas -- a popular Mexican sandwich -- in two varieties El Monterey Grilled Quesadilla Chicken and Cheese and Shredded Steak and Cheese.

Each 3-oz. Quesadilla is microwaveable in less than two minutes and was specifically developed in response to the continued demand for convenient, quality and authentic Mexican food.

El Monterey Quesadillas are made with freshly-baked fluffy tortillas prepared in the Ruiz bakery. Still warm, each tortilla is then filled with mild spices, chicken breast or shredded steak, and real cheeses -- resulting in a mouthwatering snack or delicious meal that can be easily prepared. As with all El Monterey products, they contain 0 grams trans fat.

"We believe our El Monterey Quesadillas are right on the mark for the consumer who is looking for a convenient meal solution, whether they want to prepare a quick snack when the kids come home from school or whether they're looking to slice some fresh fruit, or make a salad and serve a quality, great tasting Mexican meal," says Bryce Ruiz, president and COO.

Suggested retail price is $3.49.


Redefining indulgence

 

Balancing work, family and grocery shopping can add stress to a woman's already-busy schedule. Occasionally, she needs to take a moment to reflect and indulge. Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods Inc. offers a quick and convenient option with its Swiss Miss Indulgent Collection pudding snacks.

Packaged in four-oz. cups and combining fresh cream and milk to create a rich taste and silky smooth creaminess, varieties include: Creamy Milk Chocolate, Chocolate Vanilla Swirl, Creamy Vanilla, Old Fashioned Tapioca and new Dark Chocolate Bliss.

"The Swiss Miss Indulgent Collection is an option for people who want to indulge in rich taste and quality, but don't have a lot of time," says Sharon McLenahan, vice president of dairy marketing. "The pudding snacks are packaged in portion-controlled cups, making it a quick and convenient way to indulge. Our consumers tell us they want chocolate and our new variety, Dark Chocolate Bliss, is made for the chocolate lover."

A recent telephone survey by Omnibus Research Corp. reveals that pudding isn't just for kids. Four-in-10 respondents (41 percent) without children at home consider pudding to be an indulgence compared to just 33 percent of those who are parents. In fact, a quarter of Americans without kids (24 percent) admit to indulging seven days a week. However, parents also enjoy the positive attributes of indulging. Twenty-nine percent of parents agree that indulging brings feelings of happiness. Sixty-seven percent of women associate indulging with pleasure, and American women are more likely than men to say they deserve to indulge (59 percent compared to 51 percent of men). The survey also confirms women are the true chocolate lovers. Seventy-four percent of females consider chocolate an indulgence compared to 66 percent of men.

Suggested retail price is $2.99 for a six-pack.

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