Best of Both Worlds

Quite often, a consumable that can cure a sweet tooth while assuaging a craving for something salty is in high demand. But the combination of the two tastes is not always readily available and, eventually, one of the flavors is sacrificed. However, Hershey's Reese's Sweet & Salty Granola Bars contain a new taste creation that has a sweet and salty appeal all in one.

This infusion of granola oats, crisp rice and peanuts dipped in Reese's peanut butter produces a sweet and salty taste that is sure to be a hit in the marketplace. Other flavors in the line are Reese's with chocolate and Hershey's with pretzels.

Feeling the Heat

With a tagline that reads “release your inner heat,” it comes as no surprise that the Hot Pure Energy drink from Jump Innovations packs a powerful punch. It claims to have one of the highest, yet safest, stimulant levels, with an effect that occurs almost immediately. The active ingredients in this drink differ from the usual guarana and ginseng.

Instead, this drink features Citrus aurantium extract, a well-known thermogenic herbal energy compound also known as Chinese bitter orange. It is found in some non-prescription weight control products that cause an increase in metabolism. Hot Pure Energy is sugar-, calorie- and carbohydrate-free and comes packaged in a 10.5-fl. oz. sleek can.

Balance at the Bar

It was bound to happen…the “100 Calorie” pre-portioned pack trend has seeped into other segments of the food industry outside of snack chips, crackers, and cookies. New from Balance Bar is a nutrition energy snack bar with (yep!) 100 Calories. The line offers a total of three flavors, including Peanut Butter Crisp, and each bar is packed with 6g of protein, 5g of fiber and 3g of saturated fat.

The bar is suitable for any snacking occasion and an excellent source of calcium. Along with other portion-controlled products, the bar will help consumers get on the right track to healthier eating. It is just a matter of time before 100-calorie beverages hit store shelves.

Supporting Chocolate

O'Coco's Organic Chocolate Crisps from nSpired Natural Foods are touted as being the new way to consume chocolate. This baked snack can satisfy cocoa cravings with its rich chocolate flavor and crispy crunch. The extreme flavor is derived from fine organic ingredients such as dark cocoa powder, real vanilla and evaporated cane juice.

They contain 90 calories, 2g of fat, 0g of trans fat and are USDA organic. nSpired Foods uses a portion of the proceeds to provide hands-on support to cocoa growers by donating resources to improve their harvests. Chocolate crisps are packaged in individual, single-serve sizes for guilt-free snacking.

Finishing Lines

For an instant finishing touch to a delicious meal, McCormick has presented a line of Finishing Sauces. To prep the product for use, consumers need only heat the stand-up pouch in the microwave for 45 seconds, then pour onto meat, or even grilled tomato slices and sautéed mushrooms. To further enhance this product's novel appeal, the packaging has “cool” grips, designated cooler spots on either side of the pouch designed for safe handling of the heated product.

Additionally, the bottom of each pouch is transparent, allowing the user to see the sauce prior to purchasing. A Red Burgundy Wine for Beef variety is available.

Global Trends

Danone has introduced its limited edition Dan'Up Xperiment yogurt drink to the Spanish market, after launching it in Mexico in March 2005. This product does not reveal the name of the flavor on the pack; consumers are invited to go on the company's website to guess the flavor and introduce a code to win prizes. In July 2004, Spanish consumers saw the introduction of PepsiCo's Ruffles, and consumers could guess the flavor and submit proposals for naming it. However, the concept was a little flawed, as the ingredients listed “ham and cheese flavoring!” Xperiment, however, contains “aroma” on the ingredient list, ensuring consumers will have to try the product before guessing its flavor. This is a fun way to introduce a new flavor, to keep consumers guessing.

“Boil in the bag” dishes usually do not have much scope for innovation; however, Masterfoods in Finland has repackaged its Uncle Ben's World of Rice range in a special bag with four “cool corners,” handy for consumers to hold the bag and open it without burning their fingers. This is an interesting innovation that could eventually be adapted to microwaveable meals.

There have been a number of functional chocolate introductions, with benefits that range from heart health (through the use of soy isoflavones or omega-3) to more general health and beauty claims (with polyphenols and antioxidants). Now, it appears functional chocolates are becoming even more advanced. In Japan, Oacac introduced Choco Lady, a range of chocolate pellets, which actually claim to actively help slimming by suppressing the absorption of fat. These small pellets of chocolate have crispy biscuit centers and are enriched with mushroom chitosan, a polysaccharide said to prevent the absorption of fat and help aid its expulsion from the body. For maximum effect, the consumer should eat five pellets before each meal, and the product is available in a seven-day or a 30-day pack. This product is interesting, as it works like a regular supplement, with the advantage of being a nice sweet treat (usually out of bounds for consumers trying to lose weight).