Manufacturers are incorporating an even wider array of flavors into their rice mixes now that sales finally have surpassed those of their bland plain rice side dish siblings.

The only problem is how to make the already-simple rice mix even simpler. For inspiration, some developers have turned to flavor infusion, a trend that began in restaurants and found its way into a wide array of products, notably oils and vinegars.

Infusion is proving a valuable ally, and eliminating the need for flavoring packets. First to eliminate the packets from their rice mixes is Masterfoods USA's (Hackettstown, N.J.) Uncle Ben brand. Each grain of Uncle Ben's Flavorful Brand Rice is infused with 100% natural flavors such as garlic, butter, cheese and herbs. The company claims proprietary technology eliminates the need for that meddlesome seasoning packet.