My M&Ms Chocolate Candies and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (MSLO) have announced a partnership whereby Martha Stewart’s do-it-yourself craft ideas will combine with personalized My M&Ms.

As a result, unique and handcrafted gift ideas will be available exclusively at and across all of MSLO’s media properties. MSLO is creating what it terms is a “360-degree program promoting stylish, personable and affordable gifts featuring My M&M’s Faces,” allowing consumers to put their favorite faces and personal messages on M&Ms Chocolate Candies. The ideas will also be featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius; MSLO’s online efforts; and through do-it-yourself articles found inMartha Stewart LivingandEveryday Foodmagazines.

At the same time, My M&Ms are also featuring My Team, allowing consumers to decorate their M&Ms with Major League Baseball team colors and logos.

Dr's Notes

Dr Pepper has been prominent in the news of late. First, the beverage augmented its efforts to appeal to younger generations by expanding its sponsorship relationship with Major League Gaming (MLG), the professional video game league. Approximately 175 million bottles of Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper will feature Tom “Tsquared” Taylor, an MLG star, the only time in company history that a sports league partner or sponsored professional star has graced its label for national distribution. However, the Dr’s biggest PR effort from 2008 is shaping up to be a nightmare.

Earlier in the year, the company announced every person in America could get a free Dr Pepper, if the rock band Guns n’ Roses released its long-awaited CD,Chinese Democracy, in 2008. It must have seemed a safe bet; the band had not released new music in 15 years. Well, in November, the album was released, and Dr Pepper offered visitors to its site a free can for completing a form on a certain day. The amount of traffic overwhelmed the site, and a second day’s opportunity likewise did not assuage the band, whose lawyers continue to insist Dr Pepper apologize.

Thinking Fresh

Admiration Foods has established a new line of mayonnaise and salad dressings known as Garden Fresh. What is interesting about the line is a multifunctional fiber blend common to all of the items in the range.

Full capacity production of the line is underway, with products including such dressing flavors as honey mustard, ranch and creamy Italian, each co-branded with the supplier of the fiber blend. That blend allows the company to claim the product offers fewer calories from fat.

“We’ve limited our offerings of low-fat products thus far, due to taste and texture issues, but with [the supplier’s blend], there are no such issues,” explained Michael Leffler, president and CEO of Supreme Oil, Admiration’s parent company. “We’re not even labeling the Garden Fresh products as low-fat. It’s just a great tagline that happens to be low in fat.”

Salty Banter

A report in the January issue ofConsumer Reportsinforms consumers that surprising levels of sodium lurk in foods that “consumers might not think to check.” In fact, the report explains that lower fat foods may be higher in sodium than their full-fat alternatives.

The analysis of 27 “supmarket staples” found large amounts of sodium, even in items without a salty flavor. The report cites a cup of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, which contains 350mg of sodium, while a half-cup of Friendship 1% low-fat cottage cheese has 360mg. Even Prego Heart Smart Traditional Italian Sauce boasts 430mg per half-cup.

The magazine advises consumers to check food labels, as dietary guidelines recommend no more than 2,300mg of sodium a day for healthy individuals and less than 1,500mg a day for people with hypertension. The average American, on the other hand, consumes 2,900-4,300mg a day.