10 New Food and Beverage Products Our Staff Can't Live Without

The Food Processing staff unveils its list of the top 10 products we can't -- or don't want to -- put down in 2014.

By Food Processing Staff

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We may be the editors, contributing writers and even publisher of Food Processing, but we’re consumers, too. Like everybody else, we have families. We go to the grocery store every week, and we know a great new product when we taste it. And if it’s truly great, we stick with it throughout the year. And beyond.

So we put our heads together and came up with our annual list of Our Favorite New Products. By new, we mean it’s less than 18 months old. And while we strive to find products with national distribution, sometimes a great regional product (like Prairie Farms’ flavored milks or Sam’s Club-exclusive Panera mac & cheese) is just too good to pass up.

This year’s list of favorites:

  • Chobani Greek Yogurt Oats
  • Coleman Natural’s Chipotle with Asadero Cheese Sausage
  • Hain Celestial Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips
  • HalfPops
  • M&M’s Candy Bar
  • Leinenkugel Canoe Paddler beer
  • Panera Bread Mac & Cheese
  • Prairie Farms Limited-Edition Flavored Milks
  • Reese’s Peanut Spread
  • Sargento Tastings

It’s hard to come up with a label explaining all our choices. There’s a little bit of health in there, but less than we found in our lists from previous years. Ditto for convenience. There’s a certain amount of indulgence. Bold and otherwise novel flavors maybe stand out the most. There’s something in here for everyone. Sample these for yourself and enjoy.

Reese’s Spreads, Hershey Co.

A Peanut Butter Cup in a jar

Reeses SpreadsI jumped the gun a little on this one. At the May Sweets & Snacks Expo (my favorite annual show), Hershey media relations people gave me a prototype jar of Reese’s Spreads. Can you just imagine smashing up a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and spreading that delightful mixture on just about anything you can get your hands on? I can, and have.

I certainly thought the product would be out by the time we created this report; the other chocolate-based Hershey spreads were. But we’ll have to wait for a Nov. 1 launch date (that’s probably already passed) to get our hands on the new Reese’s Spreads. So there were no technical or formulation details to be found. We were lucky to get this photo. But what more do you need to know? It’s a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in a jar, ready for spreading (or, I’m embarrassed to say, eating with a spoon). Nutella should retreat to Italy and set up European defenses. This one’s a conqueror.
- Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Leinenkugel Canoe Paddler beer

Top-drawer German copy

Canoe Paddler LeinenkugelIn Köln, trinken die Kölsch bier. In fact, there are very few options besides Koelsch beer when ordering a draft in Cologne, Germany. The word means “of Cologne,” and the Koelsch Convention of 1985 stipulates any beer that bears the name must be brewed within 50km of this city on the Rhine.

American drinkers are broadening their horizons, and a number of craft brewers now produce their own Koelsch-style beers. Somewhat surprisingly, the best comes from the Leinenkugel division of MillersCoors, which introduced Canoe Paddler as a spring and summer seasonal. Pale, crisp and slightly fruity, Koelsch is an ale that thinks it’s a lager. A handful of Cologne breweries still produce this top-fermented brew, but aficionados no longer have to visit Cologne to enjoy it – it will be back in U.S. distribution when the warm weather returns. Probst!

- Kevin T. Higgins, Managing Editor (and home brewer)

Panera Bread Mac & Cheese

Better than mom’s

Panera at home Mac and CheeseMacaroni and cheese is an all-time children’s favorite and now a popular adult side dish at restaurants. But Panera Bread raises the ante for store-bought mac & cheese with a frozen product offered via Sam’s Club. This Mac & Cheese will make the entire family happy.

The Vermont white cheddar cheese sauce is distinguishable from its orange-yellow counterparts, not only by color, but more importantly, by its fresh taste. The cheese is creamy, one of the product’s great attributes. The shell pasta is thicker than most other mac & cheese products, and is in harmony with the cheese sauce. The neighborhood kids have called it the “best mac & cheese in the whole wide world.” More discerning adults will appreciate its grown-up taste.

Panera Bread is known for providing quality and speedy food, and this mac & cheese hits both marks.
- Larry Bagan, Publisher

Hain Celestial Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips

VeggieChipsChip snacking made healthy

As a single woman who loves her snacks, I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy a very new product from Hain Celestial: Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips in a can. The stackable chips are available in four flavors: BBQ, Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream & Onion, and Sea Salt. They come in a 5-oz. canister, which is perfect for tailgating, to throw in a bag for on-the-go snacking or to have around the house for a quick nosh.

The chips are made from a scrumptious blend of vegetables that contain no artificial colors or flavors. Featuring three colorful vegetable blends that include red (tomato, red pepper, beet), green (spinach, pea, broccoli) and yellow (sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin), snacking on these wholesome chips feels decadent, yet healthy. According to a release, Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips can be found in the healthy snacks aisle in most Walmart locations nationwide just starting last month with a suggested retail price of $1.98.

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