Food Industry Experts Rate New Products of 2008

Our annual unscientific picks for the best new products of the past year.

By Diane Toops, Dave Fusaro and David Feder

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There’s a lot of novel technology behind this. It was a little tricky to retort a product in a polypropylene tray with a film lid. The result is a product that needs no refrigeration …  which means my lunch sat in a desk drawer, sometimes for several days, until I was ready for it.

Most important is it tastes great. They do, that is, all 25 varieties in both the main Compleats line and a green-tinted sub-line, which focuses on healthier formulations. That green line meets USDA guidelines for a “healthy lifestyle,” primarily less fat and sodium and more fiber and protein. All are 10 oz. and they cook in 90 seconds. The cooking is surprisingly consistent throughout the product, which also is the result of product redesign.

From standards like Beef Stew and Lasagna to more artful ones like Sesame Chicken with Vegetables & Pasta or Santa Fe Chicken with Beans & Rice, these provide a filling and quick lunch. They cost about $2.69 each and leave you with a modest 250-320 calories.
- Dave Fusaro

Trident Xtra Care with Recaldent

Chew to your heart’s content

Wellness in the confectionary category may seem like an oxymoron, but the two are not necessarily incompatible. Although your mom probably told you not to chew gum and you devised all sorts of ways to hide your stash, today’s mom is rethinking that advice as she worries about her overweight kids. Smokers trying to break the habit are also finding solace in chewing; in fact, it’s no longer politically incorrect to chew gum (discreetly).

In May, Cadbury Adams USA, Parsippany, N.J., took chewing gum to the next level with Trident Xtra Care with Recaldent. This gum is clinically proven to actively protect, strengthen and rebuild tooth enamel while you chew. Cadbury Adams holds the exclusive rights in the U.S. to use Recaldent -- a unique form of calcium derived from milk -- in gum, and Trident is the only gum brand that contains this ingredient.

Recaldent provides calcium and phosphate (the building blocks of tooth enamel) in a bioavailable form to help remineralize the enamel in teeth for up to three hours after chewing. It helps make teeth stronger and protects them from decay and erosion.

At $1.49 for a single pack and $3.29 for a multi-pack, Trident Xtra Care is available in two flavors -- Peppermint and Cool Mint. It builds upon the success of other recent innovations from Cadbury Adams that have helped fuel the growth of the global chewing gum industry including Trident Splash in 2005 (now a $394 million brand globally) and Stride gum in 2006 (which enjoys a 7.1 percent market share).

“Cadbury Adams has an extensive history of developing innovations in chewing gums, and Trident Xtra Care represents a significant advance in the chewing gum category,” says Doris Tancredi, vice president regulatory and emerging science for Cadbury Schweppes Americas Confectionary. “Recaldent is a powerful ingredient that actually replenishes calcium and phosphate to remineralize and protect teeth by filling in the tiny crevices where cavities can form. The result is that teeth become stronger and less vulnerable to future damage.”

So, when you’re not chewing, you can  smile and show off those beautiful and healthy teeth.
- Diane Toops

Greek Gods Yogurt

So this is how yogurt is supposed to taste

By Zeus, this stuff is amazing! Each rich, thick yogurt from The Greek Gods LLC. (www.greekgodsyogurt.com), Mountlake Terrace, Wash., shows off centuries of tradition. Let’s face it: As yogurt grew in popularity, good yogurt became harder to come by. Display cases are jammed with yogurt anomalies such as mocha-chocolate chip and kiwi with rainbow sprinkles or superindustrialized pastel-colored yogurts in peach, blueberry, raspberry and strawberry chalk flavors. Live cultures are added after the fact, and the final products are more additives than yogurt.

With Greek Gods, there’s something authentic going on. In addition to Plain, Non-Fat Plain and Vanilla there’s Fig, Honey and Pomegranate. And from first taste, instant body rush. The flavors are real; they’re there to complement, not hide, the yogurt. The texture is, well, godly: dense and creamy, without being, slippery, cloying or gummy — and, most especially, without being chalky.

Also, the Greek Gods team knows there’s such a thing as healthful fat, that fat from real dairy can bring satiety and satisfy hunger. As a result, these yogurts are between 9 and 10 percent fat vs. the usual 3-4 percent. Besides, what good is a 100-calorie yogurt if you have to shore it up an hour later with a 200-calorie candy bar?

This is one of the few food products that still knocks me out every time I get one and dive in. So much so, I’ve developed the habit of leaving some in the refrigerators of friends and family members whenever I visit.
- David Feder

Town House Flipsides

Is it a pretzel or a cracker? Yes

Pretzel lovers long have suffered with over dipping their pretzels in a spread or dip, necessitating careful maneuvering in order not to spill the contents in their laps. Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co. and the Keebler Elves solved that problem by combining the taste of pretzels (on one side) and a buttery cracker (on the other side) in Town House Flipsides.

Yes, now you can enjoy the versatility of an oval cracker with the taste of a pretzel. Salty enough to taste like an indulgent chip, they are super crunchy and flavorful. Town House Flipside varieties, which sell for $3.59, include Original and Cheddar. You can eat them right out of the box or as a snack topped with cheese, spreads or dips at a party. Drizzle on an artistic design or dip them in chocolate for a triple treat. Five crackers total only 70 calories, but stopping at five will certainly be a problem since they are addictive.

“Pretzels and crackers are two great snacks to serve when entertaining; however, pretzels are hard to top and crackers do not have the taste that pretzel lovers enjoy,” says Raj Joshi, senior director. “Town House Flipsides address both needs. They give consumers a truly revolutionary snacking experience.”
Town House Flipsides really are a fun and unique snack. Take a bite with the cracker side up and it tastes slightly more buttery like a cracker, or bite the pretzel side up and it tastes more like a pretzel. It’s like getting two great-tasting snacks for the price of one.
- Diane Toops

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