New Food Products

Editors' Favorite New Products, 2017 Edition

Our 'love' list includes 10 treats we can't seem to get enough of this year.

By Food Processing Staff

We may be the editors, digital director, and even a salesperson 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. If it’s truly great, we stick with it throughout the year. And beyond.

So we put our heads together and came up with a list of Our Favorite New Products. We used to create this list and story annually, but it's been a few years since we last visited this fun subject. By new, we mean it’s less than 18 months old.

VEAcrackers'I Savor Every Snacking Journey'

Vea Seed Crackers; Mondelez

Mondelez International says it created its new Véa savory seed crackers to drive growth in the savory cracker segment. The company is spot-on with these crispy, crunchy crackers made with ingredients like sweet potato, butternut squash and quinoa, and baked with visible herbs and spices. The name Vea symbolizes the brand’s purpose of "savoring the journey," according to the company, and accommodates busy on-the-go, well-being-focused millennials open to discovery, adventure and authenticity. But anyone in any generation who likes crispy, crunchy snacks will probably like these.

They're also sturdy enough to hold up to chunky dips. The handy standup, reclosable pouches work well for portable snacking. The recipes are have no artificial ingredients, colors or flavors, nor trans fats or GMOs. And thanks to the company's work with globally located chefs, Véa features bold regional flavors, from Thai Coconut and Tuscan Herbs to Peruvian Sweet Potato and Greek Hummus. The line became available nationally in the U.S. and Canada in July.

- Lauren Hartman, Product Development Editor

NothingButCheese'Cheese That Goes Crunch'

Nothing But Cheese; Gay Lea Foods

Not since the coagulated milk product known as American cheese has fromage seen innovation like Nothing But Cheese, a shelf-stable snack with a label as clean as it gets: 100% cheese.

Produced by Mississauga, Ontario-based Gay Lea Foods and sold under the cooperative’s Ivanhoe label, Nothing But Cheese is a crunchy snack that checks all the clean label boxes. Microwave drying under pressure removes half the moisture in the cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheeses used to produce Nothing But Cheese, lowering water activity to the point that no refrigeration is needed. An 18g package — slightly less than two-thirds of an ounce -- delivers 7g of protein, equivalent to two cups of milk. Cheese, peppers and cellulose are the only ingredients in the Monterey Jack variety, with 3g of carbs and 4.5g saturated fat accounting for many of the 100 calories. For bigger appetites, a 57g (2-oz.) package is available.

- Kevin Higgins, Managing Editor

'Now, This Is Leveraging Global Assets'

Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar; Mondelez International

Some people know about my junk food drawer at work. Don't go looking for these in there; they're in a different, locked drawer.

I think the best thing to come out of the creation of international snacks powerhouse Mondelez is the Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar. It's a classic case of leveraging synergies: Mondelez's Cadbury brand Milka (big in Europe) provides the candy bar coating and the company's Nabisco brand provides the chocolatey crunchy pieces.

Lest I overstate the case for the chocolate, the real star here is the vanilla crème center, which contains the Oreo bits and sits between the Milka chocolate outer layers. As my junk food drawer will attest, I perform daily research on the candy bar category, so I'm something of an expert. The Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar blew me away the first time I tried it, and it's become my new favorite.

- Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

'I Gotta Stop Buying These'

Deep Fried Twinkies; Hostess Brands

On a flight to Chicago I was reading a recent issue of Food Processing -- honestly. In the Rollout section, I saw a new creation, Deep Fried Twinkies. I love Twinkies and was disappointed when Hostess shut down and stopped Twinkie production at the end of 2012. Not only did Twinkies return to the market, but they were available in a new warm form last year (why had I not warmed up the original?).

I mentioned this in my daily conversation with my neighbor while she was at the store. She spotted them and picked me up a box. I had the Twinkies warm and ready to eat for the kids when they got home from school. They loved them. As my husband ate it up in two bites, he requested me not to buy them again because he wanted to eat the entire box of 12. The extra layer of goodness is not crispy but like a warm, soft layer of funnel cake. Yum.

- Betsy Norberg, Western Sales Representative

'Frozen Dessert Mends a Broken Heart'

Ben & Jerry’s No Dairy PB & Cookies

I went through a rather traumatic break-up in the past year. As I looked into my soul -- and pantry -- to fill the hole that had just been made, I found myself happy once again … with a spoon in hand.

I’ve been making changes to my diet and one of them has been to 'break up with' – and cut out or minimize -- dairy from my life. I’m also a sweet girl with a sweet tooth, so I was desperate for something that would be dairy free, yet sweet.

Then Ben & Jerry’s No Dairy PB & Cookies came into my life. The first bite I took nearly floored me. I couldn’t believe this was dairy-free. The non-dairy dessert has the ideal blend of vanilla, chocolate and peanut butter to make you feel like you’ve just ingested the most perfect dessert on earth. The ratio of chocolate to smooth, peanut butter chunks is decadent to the last spoonful.

That the dessert is also Kosher and Vegan make this product ideal for many consumers, including me.

- Erin Hallstrom, Director, of Digital Strategy

'10-Minute Risotto'

Knorr Selects; Unilever

I'm quite the cook – when all that's required is pouring the ingredients from a flexible pouch into boiling water. That's one of the reasons I'm fond of 2017 introduction Knorr Selects from Unilever.

Just 10 minutes cooking on the stove top and these rice-based side dishes are ready to eat. My favorite is Four Cheese Risotto – risotto-style rice in a creamy four-cheese sauce. Roasted Garlic Alfredo is a close second. But the other, equally cravable flavors are: Asiago Cheese & Cracked Black Pepper, Rustic Mexican Rice & Beans, Spinach & Artichoke and White Cheddar Broccoli. I've tried most of them, and all are delightful.

What's a small added attraction for me may be huge for others. The new line features ingredients grown and harvested on Knorr Landmark Farms, four farms in the U.S. and another 36 across the globe committed to sustainable farming practices. I think my Roasted Garlic Alfredo includes garlic responsibly grown in California and rice from an Arkansas farmer.

- Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Dessert Thins'Healthy and Surprisingly Indulgent'

Dessert Thins; Snack Factory

Snack Factory makes a nod toward healthy eating by baking, not frying, Dessert Thins. Healthier, yes, but the indulgent side comes at a cost: most of the calories (120) in a serving of these crispy biscuit squares are delivered via 6g of fat.

On the other hand, a handful of fat grams is small price to pay when it comes to snacking. Defining a serving size as four biscuits is laughable, though. Scarfing (definition No. 5 in the Urban Dictionary) the Brownie Thins triggers behavior somewhere between compulsion and addiction. The Lemon Tart variety is more resistible. As with Brownie and Chocolate Chip, Lemon Tart has no trans fat, cholesterol or artificial colors or flavors.

- Kevin Higgins, Managing Editor

Scoop Shop Favorite Now at My Grocery

Pralines 'n Cream; Baskin-Robbins/Boardwalk Frozen Treats

In my childhood, my family made regular trips to a Baskin-Robbins scoop shop. While I did my best to try all 31 flavors, my favorite always was Pralines 'n Cream. Maybe because my visits to the scoop shops are so infrequent now, I always default to Pralines 'n Cream.

Despite its widespread popularity, few other makers of packaged ice cream create that flavor. I think Haagen-Dazs still does, but that doesn't carry the nostalgia of the Baskin-Robbins product. So it was with great joy (and some health trepidation) that I discovered Pralines 'n Cream and a haldful of other Baskin-Robbins favorites in my local Jewel. They apparently have been out nearly two years, but only made it into my area in the past year.

Boardwalk Frozen Treats apparently is the manufacturer, and it does a fine job of recreating the golden ribbons of caramel and sweet, pralined pecans that probably outweigh the wonderful vanilla ice cream. This is my reward at the end of a hard day. Perhaps it's a good thing they only come in pints (actually 14 oz.). It's difficult honoring the Nutrition Facts panel notation that there are supposed to be 3.5 servings per pint. Yeah, right.

- Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

'Substituting Vegetables for Rice'

Green Giant Riced Veggies; B&G Foods

B&G Foods, like many big food companies, is trying to change with the times. Noting that only one in 10 people consumes enough fruits and vegetables, the company reintroduced the iconic Green Giant brand, which B&G bought at the end of 2015, with a frozen vegetable line targeting today's "health-minded, convenience-seeking consumers."

My family really likes the Riced Veggies, which are meant to replace starchy rice in side dishes. They're are100 percent vegetables with no sauce or seasoning. They have 70 percent to 85 percent fewer calories per serving than most white rice.

Flavors include Cauliflower, Cauliflower & Broccoli, Cauliflower & Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Medley. There's also a mashed cauliflower version that can sub for the typical mashed potato side dish. That one comes in Original with Olive Oil & Sea Salt, Cheddar & Bacon and Garlic & Herb. Green Giant also debuted Veggie Tots, which — you guessed it — replaces the potato in those little nuggets with vegetables.

Anything to help me sneak more veggies onto a plate that my family will eat.

- Lauren Hartman, Product Development Editor

Two Frozen Pizzas Worth Baking

DiGiorno Crispy Pan Pizza; Nestlé USA

We have a great pizza restaurant near the house; half the time we eat there, half the time I carry out. But there are times when we just don't feel like getting in the car. Nestle USA has made leaving home even more difficult with two very new products.

DiGiorno Bacon & Cheese Stuffed Pizza is not only topped with those two delectable ingredients, they're even stuffed into the crust. There are two varieties. Bacon Me Crazy is topped with Applewood smoked bacon and salami, and Aloha Bacon is topped with ham, applewood smoked bacon and pineapple.

Another temptation is DiGiorno Crispy Pan Pizza, which bakes in its own square pan in our home oven. There's no "rim" to these; the cheese and other toppings run edge-to-edge a crust that is crispy and caramelized on the outside and soft and tender inside. They come in their own 8 in. by 12-in. pans.

My apologies to Roundheads (our local pizza place).

- Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief