The week of the Food Marketing Institute's (FMI) Show has quickly become one of my favorite times of year. On May 5-7, Chicago's McCormick Place played host to the food industry and offered a glimpse of products soon to hit store shelves. Some of the more interesting are as follows.

M&Ms/Masterfoods' Cookies &. . . line, featuring varieties with Twix, Snickers, Milky Way and, of course, M&M's (the plain version). I've often heard questions asking when the candy-covered cookie idea would make it Stateside. It looks like those questions will finally cease. (Masterfoods was mum on the dulce de leche flavored M&M's. These were a big hit around the office and with everyone I know who had the chance to try them. When will these make their way to stores around the country?)

Cola Wars Episode II: Attack of the Flavors (last Star Wars reference, I promise): Vanilla Coke made its debut, with Pepsi announcing Pepsi Blue shortly thereafter. All of this was followed by Dr. Pepper's announcement of Dr. Pepper Red Fusion—not to mention SoBe's carbonated debut with Mr. Green. Looks like Mountain Dew: Code Red began something of a trend. Expect to see more on all of these products next month.

Sodas with new flavors were just the start of this edition of the cola wars, as Pepsi and Coca-Cola both will augment their water lines with vitamin and mineral fortification. While not the most original of concepts, fortification will be ammunition in the battle of Aquafina versus Dasani.

Speaking of Coke, their fridge packs have met with positive reviews all around. These cases feature two rows of six cans and seem well-suited for refrigerator shelves, as opposed to the more traditional boxes with three rows of four cans. While no plans have been announced, expect other soft drink makers to follow suit with their own refrigerator-friendly cases.

Continuing on the packaging angle, Bacardi Silver is going PET, to allow for sales in stadiums. Hmm, something tells me the folks over at the Global New Products Database are going to see a lot more plastic packaging for adult beverages in the coming months.

Children aren't forgotten, however. Numerous Go-Gurt-inspired gel snacks could be found, but one of the more interesting kid-oriented products was a type of bread. IronKids is going crustless and, to appease parents, will boast four times the calcium of most other white breads, plus all the fiber of whole wheat. The Surgeon General should be pleased.

Internet Information

For more information on subjects covered in this issue, see the Internet sites below.

Pass the Sauce — Mintel International Group — Campbell Soup Company — H.J. Heinz

Innovating in the Food Industry — Trader Joe’s — Doblin Inc.

Satisfying the Yen for Asian Cuisines — Promar International, click on Consumer Insights: US and Canada — Culture and recipes on all Asian countries. — Southeast Asian cuisine information — American Spice Trade Association — Glossary of Asian food terms and recipes — Thai cooking and ingredients — Jollibee Food Corp.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids — USDA information

Demystifying Label Claims — FDA Labeling — Nutrient content claims

Building a Safety Net for Meats — American Meat Institute — American Assoc. of Meat Processors