Not Just Garden Varieties

Gardenburger Authentic Foods Company (Portland, Ore.) is launching three new products, with the Far East and Deep South among the influences. In addition to providing a diversity of options for vegetarians, the new varieties each contain less than 200 calories, more than 8g of soy protein and little or no cholesterol, according to the company.

Inspired by classic recipes for chicken-fried steak, Gardenburger is introducing Country Fried Chik'n with Creamy Pepper Gravy. Protein-rich soy patties are breaded and served with pepper-flecked, pan-style gravy.

The Meatless Sweet & Sour Pork serves as a Cantonese-influenced vegetarian dish. Soy slices have been simmered with bell peppers, onions and pineapple.

Lightly breaded wings promise a real chicken taste, says the company, in the Buffalo Chik'n Wings. Dripping in hot sauce, the wings are cholesterol-free.

Mixing It Up

General Mills (Minneapolis) is willing to help families looking to indulge. The company's new Betty Crocker Complete Desserts feature recipes such as Southern-style Peach Cobbler, Classic Cherry Cobbler and Old-fashioned Apple Crisp.

Allowing these classic desserts to be made in minutes, the mixes include Comstock real fruit and a pouch of dessert topping mix. The four-minute preparation time requires spreading the fruit in a pan, adding water and adding the topping onto the fruit. Then, the dish is baked for approximately 30 minutes.

A General Mills' consumer study found 75% of consumers enjoy dessert with dinner at home. Furthermore, 55% said they would like to have dessert more often, but perhaps due to time constraints, the effort involved or the difficulty of preparation, only 14% of families serve dessert.

Smirnoff the Mark

Diageo (Stamford, Conn.) is relaunching Smirnoff, one of the drinks giant's most-recognizable icons. As a result, the premium vodka brand, flavored vodka and premium flavored malt beverages all will boast a brand-new look.

National advertising and public relations efforts will communicate the change to consumers, while attempting to convey the quality and strength of the established brand at the same time. The company notes the new packaging arrives in an era when consumers are buying more premium and super-premium alcohol beverage products. Featuring a broad shoulder and tapered-body bottle, the revamp aims to reflect Smirnoff's Russian heritage and modern success.

The new logo is red and silver, inspired by the awards presented to Pierre Smirnoff as an official purveyor of the Imperial Russian Court in the late 1880s. A global initiative will promote the new look, including such tactics as on- and off-premise promotions, extensive public relations efforts, and “various non-traditional marketing tactics.”

So, How Does the Cookie Crumble?

In findings that literally could revolutionize the cookie industry, physicists at Loughborough University (Leicestershire, U.K.) have discovered why cookies seem to break so easily.

Sophisticated laser techniques allowed the researchers to peer into the cookie, revealing “fault lines” a few hours after it is removed from the oven. As the cookie cools, it picks up moisture around its rim, causing expansion. At the same time, moisture in the center is causing that area to contract.

The research, published in the scientific journal Measurement, Science and Technology, suggests a build-up of strain forces pulls the cookies apart, making them vulnerable to crumbling during handling, moving or packaging.

“This will help (cookie) manufacturers adjust the humidity or temperature of their factory production lines to change the cooling process in such a way that the (cookies) will not break up due to normal handling, hence producing the perfect (cookie),” said Qasim Saleem, doctoral student at the university.