Rollout: Best Products of December 2007

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Splendor of sea salt

Natural sea salts are one of the hottest culinary trends and add elegance to home-cooked meals. Hunt Valley, Md.-based McCormick introduces an exciting new line of Gourmet Collection Sea Salts, each packaged in a wide-mouth tin for sprinkling ease.
French Grey Sea Salt, an, moist salt, hand-harvested in Brittany, France, is renowned for its light grey, almost purple color. It’s an elegant finishing touch to roasted or grilled meats, seafood and vegetables. Sicilian Sea Salt is hand-harvested off the coast of Sicily. Rich in minerals and with a lower percentage of sodium chloride than regular table salt, its delicate flavor highlights salads or finishing roasts and sauces; Asian Style Spiced Sea Salt, is sea salt paired with an Asian spice blend (garlic, ginger, orange peel, coconut, red bell pepper and sesame seeds); it enhances Asian stir-fries, salads, noodles, rice and veggies. And Mediterranean Spiced Sea Salt is infused with Mediterranean spices (garlic, basil, oregano, lemon peel, red bell pepper, and a touch of red pepper heat). Sprinkle on salads, pasta, fish, chicken and meat. 

“People are intrigued by sea salts and love the idea of using them but aren’t totally sure how to incorporate them into their everyday cooking,” says McCormick executive chef Kevan Vetter. “Sea salt is far more versatile than many think; it can be used at the stovetop during the final stages of cooking, sprinkled on meats, fish and vegetables while on the grill or as a last minute seasoning at the dinner table.”
They also make great stocking stuffers for the foodies on your list.
Suggested retail price is $3.79.


Comfort food without the fuss

Sweet potatoes are synonymous with holiday meals, but with the ever-growing interest in health, they are finding a place in the family diet year-round. Minneapolis-based General Mills rolls out boxed mashed potatoes in two varieties: Betty Crocker Sweet Potato (6.3 oz.) and Betty Crocker Yukon Gold (4.8 oz.). The latter is a good all-purpose potato with a texture somewhere between Idaho and red mashed potatoes.

Made from real potatoes, each box serves six people. Simply heat milk, hot water and butter or margarine, add the potatoes, mix and serve for a potato side dish in less than 10 minutes.

“Sweet potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes have traditionally been holiday favorites and restaurant specialties,” says Andy Kroll, associate marketing manager. “Now, consumers can enjoy these two delicious varieties of mashed potatoes at home year-round, without the hassle of preparing them from scratch. And since they’re coming from a trusted brand like Betty Crocker, these potatoes will come out perfectly every time.”

Suggested retail price is $1.89


Make Santa happy

Santa will do a double take and probably add an extra present or two if you leave him a supply of new mini versions of traditional pure butter Walkers Shortbread Rounds and Chocolate Chip Shortbread Rounds (with dark chocolate chips) to savor with his glass of milk.

Made by Walkers (Aberlour-on-Spey, Scotland), Mini Shortbread Rounds are baked in perfect little bite-sized rounds in small batches for the utmost quality control. Each variety is made using a treasured family recipe that the Walker family has used for more than a century containing pure butter, flour, sugar and salt. Certified Kosher OUD, the cookies use no artificial flavorings, colorings or additives.

Presented in 7-oz. hexagon-shaped cartons with two individually wrapped trays, suggested retail price is $6.50.


A gift for mom

Created with a blend of fresh milk and imported cocoas for real chocolate taste and flavor, Swiss Miss is America's No. 1 brand of hot cocoa, according to IRI. ConAgra Foods Inc., Omaha, Neb., rolls out two new varieties for a nutritional and soothing treat after all that holiday preparation.

Swiss Miss Pick-Me-Up Cocoa swirls smooth and creamy chocolate taste with as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, plus as much calcium and vitamin D as a glass of milk. Swiss Miss Great Start Cocoa begins with imported cocoa, then adds 15 essential vitamins and minerals, including as much calcium as in an 8-oz. cup of milk as well as vitamin D. Good news for women looking for low-calorie indulgences is that both new cocoas have only 110 calories and 2g of fat per serving; less than other chocolate or mocha treats.

To better understand how women get themselves going to face their busy day, Swiss Miss recently conducted a survey of 500 women ages 25-44 and found that when women need a daily boost, most look to chocolate, caffeine and fortified foods. In fact, nearly three out of four women surveyed crave chocolate more than any other sweet and consume caffeine at least once per day, while the majority seeks fortified foods to enhance diets lacking in important vitamins and minerals.

“The survey revealed that caffeinated drinks are important to the lifestyle of many women, and that vitamin and mineral enrichments are also of importance to this demographic,” says Sergio Pereira, vice president of Swiss Miss marketing. “The new Swiss Miss varieties give women the chocolate they crave in a sweet, rich, lower-calorie drink but with an added boost – either as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, or 15 essential vitamins and minerals.”

Suggested retail price for a box of eight 1-oz. packets is $2.69.


Slam dunk from the Elves

Straight from the Hollow Tree and the popular Keebler Elves, who are employed by Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co., comes Keebler Dipping Delights, a sandwich cookie designed with a long, narrow shape for easier dipping in milk, sure to delight your family.

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