Leftovers is our look at a few of the product ideas popping up everywhere. Some are intriguing, some sound amazing and some are the kinds of ideas we would never dream of. We can’t write about everything that we get pitched, so here are some leftovers pulled from our inboxes.
Kelly Clarkson and the Jonas Brothers bring popcorn to the BBQ
Rob’s Backstage Popcorn has rolled out a new product in collaboration with Grammy-winning singer Kelly Clarkson, Kelly’s Classic BBQ.
The brand, owned by pop band the Jonas Brothers and The Naked Market, launched in retail stores last year.
The collaboration came about after the brothers appeared on Clarkson’s talk show last April to promote the product. She “fell in love” with the popcorn, the brand said, and decided to make a sweet, smoky barbecue flavor.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Kelly Clarkson on this new addition to the Rob’s Backstage Popcorn lineup,” said Nick Jonas, one of the brand’s co-founders. “We’re grateful that she has been such a vocal supporter and fan of Rob’s since our retail launch last year. Kelly’s BBQ flavor leans into her Southern roots to create a truly unique spin on Rob’s original flavor profile.”
The flavor will be available on the brand’s website, Walmart, Albertsons and Kroger.
According to the press release, the popcorn was perfected for over three decades by the father of one of the Jonas Brothers’ managers, Rob Garbowsky. Nick Jonas had the idea to sell the popcorn after it became a staple snack for the band.
Celebrities regularly use their star power to enter the CPG space, which brings a built-in audience to products that might have otherwise been overlooked. Food and beverage brands pay top dollar for celebrity endorsements for already established products, and entertainers are increasingly acquiring or launching their own brands as a separate stream of income. Actor Ryan Reynolds became a co-owner of Aviation gin in 2018, which was then purchased by alcohol giant Diageo for $610 million in 2020. Rap legend Snoop Dogg launched a line of THC-infused onion ring-style snacks last October.
New entrants to the popcorn space often use unique flavors as a way to stand out. Opopop — which describes itself as a premium popcorn brand and touts its Flavor Wrapped kernels — has rolled out quirky variations such as Wasabi, Chedapeño and Pickle Monster.
— Chris Casey
Breyers Vanilla gets oat-ally dairy-free
As non-dairy ice cream gets to be more mainstream, Breyers is going all oat to get a firm scoop into the space.
The Unilever-owned vanilla ice cream standard bearer is launching its first non-dairy vanilla offering made with oat milk. The brand known for its 1.5-quart black cardboard tubs has produced non-dairy ice cream made with almond milk since 2017. This is its first one made with oat milk. It’s also the first time Breyers has made a non-dairy ice cream in vanilla.
Breyers says that its Non-Dairy Vanilla is made with a “formula upgrade” using the popular creamy beverage from the grain. And it looks and tastes like Breyers classic vanilla flavor, the company says, even down to the dark flecks of vanilla bean throughout each scoop.
Vanilla ice cream is often considered the epitome of something plain but satisfying. And while the ice cream market has provided a wide variety of new flavors, toppings and mix-ins, vanilla is still among America’s favorites in both the freezer aisle and in the scoop shop. According to a study last year from the International Dairy Foods Association and Research America, ice cream manufacturers said vanilla is their second most popular flavor, while consumers ranked it as their third. A YouGov poll last year found that nearly six in 10 people in the U.S. said they liked vanilla ice cream, and 11% ranked it as their favorite.
Ice cream made with oat milk is nothing new. Danone’s So Delicious brand was the first in the space in early 2019, and oat milk pioneer Oatly added a frozen dessert to its U.S. product line that summer.
What makes this launch notable is the reputation and market share occupied by Breyers. Unilever says its vanilla is the market leader for that flavor, and the brand tends to rank well in consumer taste tests.
A brand with such a large reach making an oat-milk based vanilla expands access and exposure of the dairy-free offering. It also means that Unilever is putting a lot of confidence in the quality of its oat milk ice cream. The simplicity of vanilla ice cream — it has no extra flavors, inclusions or colors to disguise anything amiss in taste, texture and eating experience — also creates a high bar for performance. By launching this offering under the Breyers brand, quite simply, Unilever must believe this dairy-free ice cream is oat-standing.
— Megan Poinski
International Delight gets by with a little help from ‘Friends’
So no one told you coffee was gonna be this way.
Danone-owned coffee creamer brand International Delight has announced its latest product, Friends Manhattan Hazelnut Mocha creamer, inspired by the hit ‘90s sitcom.
The creamer’s packaging features a cartoon of “Friends” characters, as well as the Central Perk coffee shop that was featured prominently on the show. It is also available in a Zero Sugar variety, International Delight said in a statement.
"As Americans are looking to recreate their favorite coffeehouse experiences at home more and more, International Delight Hazelnut Mocha creamer is Central Perk approved,” the company’s vice president of marketing Kallie Goodwin said in a written statement.
The product follows two other collaborative products from the brand using Warner Bros. intellectual property. In 2020, International Delight debuted a line of creamers inspired by Buddy the Elf from the holiday movie “Elf.” Last spring, the company launched Wonka Whipple Scrumptious Fudgy Caramel creamer inspired by “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
While the characters of cartoons are a staple of food products targeted toward children — such as Post’s Pebbles cereal line — other film and TV tie-ins have proven to be a successful way for brands to market new products and limited time flavors for decades. CPG giant PepsiCo even signed a $2 billion deal with Lucasfilm in 1996 to license snack and beverage products with the branding of “Star Wars” films.
In recent years, as nostalgia became a major selling point for brands, products featuring the branding from entertainment properties that older consumers are highly familiar with became more prominent. In 2021, ice cream brand Serendipity released a Peppermint Cookie Fudge Sundae flavor inspired by classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story.” But more current media has seen representation in CPG products as well. In 2019, PepsiCo launched a limited edition nonalcoholic sparkling rosé-flavored soda inspired by reality TV star Lisa Vanderpump from Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”
— Chris Casey