In the Zone

Hershey (Hershey, Pa.) has taken a giant leap into the health/snack bar sector this year, first introducing its line of Snack Barz and PayDay Pro High Protein Energy Bar, and most recently its line of SmartZone Nutrition Bars. Developed with the Zone diet in mind, the bars contain about 200 calories and have a balance of 40% carbohydrates, 30% fat and 30% protein.

This is the first product in North America that has the “Dr. Sears Zone Approved” seal, given by Zone Labs, founded by the inventor of the Zone Diet, Dr. Barry Sears. Additionally, it is quite common to see a well-established confectionery brand expand into the snack bars category, just as happened with Masterfoods' (Hackettstown, N.J.) Snickers Marathon Protein Performance Bar and its “Cookies &…”/”Bisc &…” line of snack bars.

Weight Control with Quaker

Quaker Foods & Beverages (Chicago) has introduced its new Weight Control Instant Oatmeal. This is the first time the company specifically has suggested on the front of its packaging that the product can be used in a diet to control weight. The packaging also touts the presence of protein and fiber, promoting a balanced diet.

Along with this particular launch, the company also introduced a low-sugar granola bar that contains 100 calories per bar. Similar to the growing number of 100-calorie packs in the snacking sector, consumers can gauge the calorie content simply by looking on the front of the package.

Cooking with Crayola

New under the Crayola's (Easton, Pa.) Crafty Cooking Kits brand is Creative Cookie Studio, an all-inclusive kit that includes directions, cookie mix, icing, candy eyes, color gels, a brush and a color wheel. The kit encourages parents to cook with their children, while teaching them about cooking and creativity with a great deal of interactivity.

Other all-inclusive cooking kits include Create & Eat Brownie Treats, Inside-Out S'mores & More, Dino-Mite Donut Party, Fun & Hot Pretzel Shoppe and Funny Face Crispy Rice Treats. Crayola also recently has entered the confectionery sector, with products such as gummi bears, lollipops, candy dispensers and jelly beans.

Behind Bars

Following a number of introductions where chocolate confectionery brands have moved into the sweet biscuit/cookie category, the opposite is occurring with Kraft's (Northfield, Ill.) new Nabisco Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar--a cookie is expanding into the chocolate confectionery category.

This is not the first of its kind, as both Mrs. Fields (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Kraft's own Nestle Toll House released a cookie-candy bar concept earlier this year. This also is not Kraft's first experiment with its Oreo brand. Handi-Snacks Oreo Cookie Sticks 'n Crème, as well as Nabisco's Oreo 100 Calorie Packs, both were launched in North America within the last three months.

Self-heating Meals

New to the U.S. market from D&B Specialty Foods (Deerfield, Ill.) is Chef 5 Minute Meals, self-heating meals that can be prepared anytime, anywhere. The complete meal comes with a patented water-activated heating pad made from magnesium. When the saltwater (provided in the package) is added to the magnesium pad, it produces hot steam that thoroughly heats the entrée. The heating pad provides a “hot meal” in five minutes, a “very hot meal” in seven minutes or a “piping hot meal” in 10 minutes, eliminating the need for an oven or a microwave.

Wolfgang Puck (Beverly Hills, Calif.) recently introduced a similarly-heated product. Gourmet Latte is housed in a self-heating can that heats to over 140 degrees within six to eight minutes.


Ice cream is traditionally a sweet dessert; however, flavors are becoming more original, as consumers look for more something more unusual. In the U.K., Purbeck Dairy Ice Cream--often known for innovative ice cream and sorbet flavors such as lavender and elderflower sorbets, and Mixed Spice ice cream (launched in March 2005)--now has introduced a limited-edition Strawberry and Cracked Black Pepper ice cream, said to be a “delightful mix of fruit and spice,” sure to appeal to the more adventurous palate.

Peanut butter may be a prominent flavor in North American markets, but it is much less common in the rest of the world, aside from peanut butter itself, of course. Therefore, it is interesting to find a new gourmet hot chocolate latte with the flavor in a launch from retailer Woolworths in South Africa. Renaissance Café Peanut Butter Latte is a powdered mix available in a 250ml metal can

The continued popularity of Bassett's Jelly Babies from Cadbury-owned Trebor Bassett in the U.K. has encouraged the company to expand on the original formula, resulting in the introduction of Milky Babies, made with 10% sweetened condensed milk and 3% dried skim milk. Not only does the milk base allow the range to feature “milkshake” flavors, such as butterscotch and toffee, but the milk content is highlighted clearly on the pack, presumably to increase healthier perceptions of the confectionery. Interestingly, the company has chosen to launch Fruity Babies simultaneously. These fruit-flavored jelly sweets boast a 10% fruit juice content, which is highlighted on pack. Both products claim to contain natural colors and flavors.

Innovation in terms of packaging in breads and bread products is quite limited, and the emphasis is usually on freshness and convenience--allowing consumers to store or carry bread products more easily, and keeping the items fresher for longer. Meierbaer & Albro Spezialbrot in Germany provides an unusual packaging format, with the introduction of sliced, preservative-free rye bread (pumpernickel), packaged in a can with a resealable plastic lid.