Oscar Mayer extended its Lunchables line for kids with Fun Snacks. The products consist of a cookie, cracker or brownie and fillings or toppings to decorate them.

Grain-based Foods 2000 1999

Cookies 337 293
Baking ingredients 273 266
Bread products 170 245
Cakes/pastries 188 175
Biscuits/crackers 119 147
Cold cereals 72 85
Hot cereals 16 29
Total 1,175 1,240
Like so many of the new food products introduced this past year, those in the Bakery category focused on flavor and fun.

The days of the cookie and cracker subcategories being mainly lowfat or fat-free are long gone, replaced by products that focus on good taste and premium quality. In addition, a wide range of products in this category allowed consumers to interact and play with their food.

Fun Times for Bakery

Cleverly extending its Lunchables range, which was once targeted toward adults but has found a nice niche with children, Oscar Mayer, Madison, Wis., introduced Fun Snacks. The portable product consists of a cookie or brownie and ingredients to decorate them. Kids can make s'mores or decorate a chocolate chip cookie or fudge brownie.

J.M. Smucker, Orrville, Ohio, elected to build on the success of its Smuckers Snackers (peanut butter, jelly and crackers) with Oatmeal Snackers--oatmeal cookies with decorative ingredients.

Other fun forms of bakery products in 2000 included new shapes of Goldfish crackers from Pepperidge Farm, Norwalk, Conn., and new and unique images on dough from Pillsbury, Minneapolis.

Another smart move in the category was Parsippany, N.J.-based Nabisco's extension of its Oreo brand with Mini Oreos. These snacks capitalize on a favorite brand and the convenience trend. Name recognition was also the basis of Keebler's, Elmhurst, Ill., Sesame Street Snacks. Here again, children can have fun with their favorite characters in food form (of course, adults can enjoy the Cookie Monster-shaped sandwich cookies, too).

It seems that there was an upsurge in waffle and pancake products last year. Perhaps consumers are taking more time forbreakfast, or simply are more interested in having a starchy breakfast rather than a protein-based one.

The most unique waffle product was from Kellogg, Battle Creek, Mich. Its Waf-Fulls look like waffles and go into the toaster like other waffles but have a built-in filling of either strawberry, maple or apple cinnamon for on-the-go eating.

VDK's, St. Louis, Aunt Jemima also introduced a new frozen waffle product, Waffle Sticks. The individual sticks retail in 12-ct. boxes of 4-ct. sets. The product is marketed as a convenient and fun breakfast solution for kids who won't eat a whole waffle.

Another convenience-oriented product is Pillsbury's Toaster Bagel Shoppe Filled Bagels, which feature fillings such as strawberry & cream cheese and plain cream cheese. We're guessing that there won't be much of a market for these in New York. Pangea World Bakers, Menlo Park, Calif., launched a new line of traditional bagels in four flavors.

Could mainstream bialys be the next big thing in breakfast food? Perhaps, but the downfall of the bialy for big companies is that these bread products do not lend themselves to stuffing and fillings.

Kellogg’s Waf-Fulls include a sweet filling of either strawberry, maple or apple-cinammon.

Organic in the Mix

The Baking Ingredients category saw a wave of healthful and convenience introductions. Organic and all-natural labels were plastered on many new products throughout the year.

For example, Oven Ready Foods, Rogers, Minn., introduced a frozen, pre-portioned bakery line with both those label declarations on its Blue Sky brand. Rogers' Ready to Bake Organic Muffins come in seven varieties, and its All-Natural Gourmet Muffins are available in six flavors.

Heart & Soy's, Denver, Colo., line of brownie mixes is not only all-natural but also wheat- and dairy-free, while Chestnut Hills, Mass.-based Hilary's offered all-natural cookies, brownies and cornbread.

Along with healthy, convenience was top of mind for many manufacturers of baking ingredient products. Pillsbury extended its cookie dough tubes with Ghosts for Halloween and I Love Mom for Mother's Day varieties. The company also continued its push toward no-prep-work baking by introducing Ready to Bake Cookies and Biscuits, which are precut slices of its pre-mixed dough sold in 18-ct. bags.

Some interesting odds and ends that emerged from the Baking Ingredient category may be a precursor of things to come. Six-Hundred LB. Gorilla, Wrentham, Mass., introduced an 18-oz. tub of cookie dough balls for baking or just plain snacking. Proslim Dessert Mixes from Biovitech, New York, contain high levels of protein and are low in carbohydrates, sugar and fat for all those workout fiends.

Finally, Fresh Hemp Foods, Winnipeg, Manitoba, introduced Manitoba Harvest Hemp Seed Flour. The low saturated fat content of hemp, the health benefits of its amino acids and ease of digestion make it an interesting alternative to standard ingredients. The unusual flavor is the only thing that might keep consumers away.

Bruschetta, a traditional Italian appetizer or snack, is now being offered by Jimmy Dean Foods, Cordova, Tenn. The tomato and spice-topped product retails frozen.

In the future, look for more companies to imitate Oscar Mayer and Smucker with their interactive products. The most likely candidates include bread mixes with various flavorings for the tops of rising bread, and individual cake slices with a mini tube of icing for decorating.

Cereal Surprises

Healthy was the watchword for cereal in 2000. The major introduction was Kellogg's Smart Start Soy Protein Cereal. Although it was not initially marketed to any one group, women are most likely to be the main consumers considering the high-profile benefits of soy for women.

One product that was squarely targeted at women was Quaker Oats', Chicago, Nutrition for Women Hot Cereal. The oatmeal-based cereal is fortified with calcium and folic acid.

Several organic cereals debuted for both adults and children. New Organics, Long Beach, Calif., rolled out organic ready-to-eat cereals for adults and, as part of its Richard Scarry line, introduced three varieties for children. Nature's Path, Blaine, Wash., also got into the act with its granola cereals for adults and EnviroKidz cereal for children.

This is not to say that there were not the usual variations on the traditional sugar-laden cereals. In fact, there was an abundance of these. However, we believe the trend over the years to come will be toward more healthy options for Baby Boomers looking to stay fit and trim. Also, the "tweens" and teens that have been raised on organic buzzwords will probably not mind starting their day with fewer sweetened and less colorful cereal products. PF