Colors again permeated the marketplace, with Goldfish in a rainbow of colors and Herr’s Changing Popcorn promising to turn your tongue green.
  • Bite-size is big. Snacking on soy.
  • Majors begin to move organic.
  • Frito-Lay reformulating to avoid trans fatty acids.
Savory snacks continued the crossover trend of recent years with more sweet components popping up in new introductions. Similar in concept to 2001's Yo-Zels from Snyder's of Hanover, Hanover, Pa., Golden Stream Quality Foods, Fishers, Ind., unveiled yogurt-flavored pretzels.

Snyder's of Hanover made a number of introductions that blurred the line between sweet and savory. Nibblers added a chocolate coating to the company's line of pretzels, and Trader Joe's, Monrovia, Calif., took the concept into its stores but added another element to the mix. Their chocolate-covered pretzels also have peanut butter, as does the latest offering under the Emily's brand from Ames International, Fife, Wash.

In terms of healthfulness, most savory snack debuts with a good-for-you stance opted for the low-fat route. Such introductions included a fat-free saltine cracker from Keebler, Elmhust, Ill., and a low-fat Sweet Organics—in cocoa twist or old-fashioned caramel corn variety—from Season's Enterprises, Addison, Ill. Taking an even-more healthful slant, Glenn Foods, Valley Stream, N.Y., added Low Fat Soy Crisps. Made with “real Wisconsin cheddar” and providing 9g of soy protein per serving, these crisps are a good source of calcium and folic acid, according to the company.

Going after the fat-conscious consumer, Pita Products, Farmington Hills, Mich., added six new flavors to its line. Like others in the line, the dill ranch, cheddar cheese, chile & lime, lightly salted, and cinnamon varieties have no fat and are low in calories.

On the organic side, a number of new savory snacks could be found, including Kettle Foods', Salem, Ore., extension of its organic potato chips with Chipotle Chile Barbecue and Sweet Summer Herb. Meanwhile, Hain Celestial Group, Uniondale, N.Y., minimized organic tortilla chips by adding White Strips and White Rounds to its Garden of Eatin' line. The bite-sized chips have no genetically engineered ingredients, hydrogenated oil or preservatives. Hain Celestial also debuted a new look for the line, which includes Yellow Rounds.

Organic offerings were relegated not just to smaller companies, though. PepsiCo's, Purchase, N.Y., Frito-Lay division added five varieties of snacks certified as organic and made with all-organic grains. These included Natural Fritos corn chips, Natural Yellow Corn Tostitos, Natural Original Sun Chips, Natural Fritos Waves and Natural Classic-Style Rold Gold Pretzels. Frito-Lay's Natural lineup also included a pair of non-organic items—White Cheddar Cheetos Puffs and Ruffles potato chips. While not touted as organic, the former has no artificial colors or flavors and no preservatives.

Frito-Lay's big news for the year, however, was a reformulation of essentially its entire line of snacks. The snack foods will be made with canola oil rather than hydrogenated oil. This move was to rid the products of trans fatty acids, associated with hydrogenated oil, which studies have linked to a higher risk of heart disease.

New flavors from Frito-Lay featured consumer choice San Antonio Salsa potato chips, as well as Funyuns and a “nacho cheesier” Doritos addition to the Go Snacks line.

Every Vote Counts

The snack giant also debuted a limited-edition line of potato chips under the Tastes of America banner. Two flavors that launched the concept were California Cool Dill and Memphis Barbecue. The Tastes of America contest encouraged consumers to go online and vote for their favorite regional flavors, and the first two flavors have since been replaced with two new winners—Wisconsin Cheddar and San Antonio Salsa.

A number of new offerings from Frito-Lay focused on the burgeoning U.S. Hispanic market. Churrumais fried corn strips available in Limoncito flavor debuted in 10 select Hispanic markets. Crujitos puffed corn twists available in a Queso & Chile flavor. Sabritas Adobadas are potato chips in a tomato and chile flavor. Sabritones are puffed wheat snacks in chile & lime flavor.

However, other companies also ventured into Hispanic communities. Brimhall Foods, Bartlett, Tenn., released Chicharrones pork rinds, Chicharrones Picantes hot pork rinds and DediQueso, cheese puffs available in “heavily Latino” supermarkets.

Several new snacks came from a name familiar to Latin American consumers. Bimbo Bakeries U.S.A., Ft. Worth, Texas, introduced its Barcel Snacks line in the U.S. Chipotles are corn crisps in chile and cheese flavor. Taquis are taco-flavored tortilla crisps. Churritos are corn sticks in chile and limon flavor. Chicharron wheat snacks have salsa packets, and Chiccharrones are Bimbo Bakeries' version of pork rinds.

Fish of a Different Color

Pepperidge Farm, Norwalk, Conn., took the colorful route for its new line of Goldfish. Baked snack crackers now come in a rainbow of colors but are still baked with real cheese. In Canada, three new flavors of Goldfish joined the pack—Wild White Cheddar, Xplosive Pizza and Xtra Cheddar Cheese, and a fourth graced Ontario shelves—Atomic Barbecue. Back in the U.S., the Hot & Spicy variety of Flavor Blasted Goldfish could be found in the company's On the Go! packaging.

Following the lead of last year's Mystery Cheetos from Frito-Lay, Herr Foods, Nottingham, Pa., took the mouth-color-changing concept into a new arena. Changing Cheddar Magic Popcorn turned tongues green, but new popcorn products came complete with flavor pouches to be poured over the snack after it has been popped. Back to Basics Products, Draper, Utah, was one such example. Its Butter Flavored Popcorn “Just Like at the Movies” included four packs of seasoned popcorn and butter-flavored coconut oil, one packet of white cheddar seasoning and one packet of caramel popcorn glaze. The company also sold that popcorn glaze separately in a number of flavors—blue raspberry, sweet butter, strawberry, grape, red hot cinnamon, and caramel.

A similar introduction came from Bimbo Bakeries U.S.A. Dippers are corn chips with a packet of jalapeno cheese sauce in each bag. The corn chips are made in a canoe shape to hold the cheese sauce.

Other launches sought to improve the convenience of apparently not-quick-enough snacks. Nabisco Brands, Parsippany, N.J. introduced a Go-Pak container for its Mini Cheese Nips, Nutter Butter Bites, Ritz Bits Sandwiches, Teddy Grahams and Mini Oreos. These are similar to the Go Snacks line from Frito-Lay, which added Mini Doritos in a Nacho Cheesier variety, Sour Cream & Onion Crisps, and Funyuns Mini Onion Flavored Rings.

The Go Snack container got quite a workout this year, as Frito-Lay sibling Quaker Oats used similar packaging for its four varieties of Quaker Quick Bites: honey graham, oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip oatmeal and chocolate filled cookies.

Meanwhile, Kellogg, Battle Creek, Mich., reformulated its Munch 'ems baked snacks. The original, sour cream & onion, ranch and cheddar varieties now promise a lighter, crispier crunch.

Nabisco offered “a good source of calcium” with Teddy Cheddy Baked Cheddar Crackers. The bite-sized playful bear-shaped crackers are made with real Kraft cheese. The move to minimize also prompted Nabisco to introduce recloseable Snack'n Go bags for its three Mini Ritz varieties—original, cheddar and jalapeno cheddar.

Much of the information in this article was derived from Mintel International's Global New Products Database, www.gnpd.com, 312-932-0400.

Website Resources

www.fritolay.com — Frito-Lay
www.bimbobakeriesusa.com — Bimbo Bakeries U.S.A.
www.nabisco.com — Nabisco Brands
www.keebler.com — Keebler
www.backtobasicsproducts.com — Back to Basics Products
www.hain-celestial.com — Hain Celestial
www.kettlefoods.com — Kettle Foods
www.pitasnax.com — Pita Products
www.snydersofhanover.com — Snyder's of Hanover

Sidebar: Going Global

Around the world, savory snacks have gone the fun route. In Malaysia, Austin Quality Foods has treaded dangerously close to Goldfish waters with Dolphins & Friends bite-sized baked crackers made with real cheddar cheese and shaped to resemble dolphins and whales.

In the same country, Kraft utilized the power of Sesame Street for Tickles Baked Snack Mix, which consists of cheddar, apple cinnamon Os, pretzels and original snacks and is supposed to be a good source of calcium.

While not exactly a staple flavor in the U.S., ketchup was incorporated into a couple of snack debuts overseas. Intersnack has a ketchup flavor in its Pom-Bear savory snack range, and in Saudi Arabia, National Biscuits & Confectionery added ketchup-flavored crisps.

On the organic side, several interesting new introductions could be found, including Bio Potato Chips in Finland from Tra'fo, an organic sour cream & onion rice snack under the Freedom Foods brand in Egypt, and seasoned wild seaweed from Donghee Fisheries in China.

While it could be described as a snack bar, Contract Food Manufacturing opted to term its premium, oven-baked, fruit-filled logs as Fruit Logs. Available in Australia in blueberry, apple & cinnamon and raspberry & apricot, the logs are lactose-free and high in fiber.

In the U.K., Eat Natural launched a range of fruit bars in macadamia and fruit, fruit and nut, and organic fruit & nut varieties. A more decadent snack (of a sort) was found in Ireland; Flahavan's debuted Luxury Chocolate Coated Flapjacks.