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 the leftovers pulled from our inboxes.
This vodka may have a bit of an extra kick.
Scientists in the UK and Ukraine have collaborated to create Atomik, an artisanal vodka made from crops grown in the Chernobyl exclusion zone — the area around the site of the deadly Ukrainian nuclear disaster in 1986. The exclusion zone is considered unsafe for people to live and is still contaminated with nuclear materials.
Even though Chernobyl is a trendy tourist destination nowadays — owing in part to the HBO series chronicling what happened during the disaster — the vodka was not distilled as a way to cash in on the hype. It was actually an agricultural experiment. Jim Smith, a professor at the University of Portsmouth who worked on the project, told the university that Atomik represented "the most important bottle of spirits in the world."
Its importance lies far outside of what it is, and is actually more about what it is not. Smith and other researchers wanted to see if crops grown in the exclusion zone would be safe for consumption. They turned some of the grain into vodka because distillation reduces radioactivity. While the grains showed a little more radioactivity than normal, the vodka at the end is safe to drink, the researchers said. They even diluted the vodka with mineral water from an aquifer 10 kilometers away from the reactor that exploded 33 years ago, and no contamination was reported.
While scientists found land near a nuclear disaster can be used for agriculture, consumers are likely more excited about the potential danger lurking inside the bottle. Items that seem dangerous are often popular. Chip maker Pacqui made a limited variety called Carolina Reaper Madness. The company sold single chips spiced up with the superhot pepper, sold in a box that looked like a coffin. And it sold out twice. Several companies sell insects to eat. The world's most expensive coffee is harvested from animal poop. So why wouldn't the adventurous consumer want to drink vodka from Chernobyl?
It seems that many consumers aren't thinking twice about it. Smith's paper was published on Wednesday. By Thursday, a disclaimer headed the Atomik website: "WARNING: Sorry, but we've only got one experimental bottle of ATOMIK so far, so we can't sell you anything yet."
Considering the demand for the product, regardless of how much is produced, the company is likely to experience fallout from disappointed consumers hoping to get their hands on a bottle.
— Megan Poinski
New Twinkie taste from outer space
Hostess is putting an intergalactic spin on its signature snack.
The company's classic Twinkies brand is launching a limited-edition version called Moonberry. These Twinkies feature "a dark blue, night sky colored sponge cake with a fruity mystery 'moonberry' flavored creamy filling," according to the company.
But what is a moonberry? According to People, this cream is smooth, sweet and fruity while the dark blue sponge cake is just intended to resemble the nighttime sky. The Twinkies are exclusively being sold in Walmart stores across the country for $2.97 for a pack of 10.
Twinkies have faced a rocky journey in recent years. When Hostess sold its business for $410 million in 2013, the new owner said Twinkies would return to stores after a hiatus, but the workers union producing them were on strike as the company went into bankruptcy before the sale.
Hostess is far from the only brand capitalizing on moon marketing lately. Last month marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. To mark the historic occasion, Oreo commemorated with a Marshmallow Moon version of its cookies, Space Food Sticks relaunched with cannabis and Budweiser brewed a Discovery Reserve American Red Lager.
Twinkies have innovated with different flavors and variations before. Earlier this year, the company unveiled Orange Crème Pop Twinkies for summer. The signature Twinkies taste has also been turned into coffee and reports have claimed that a Twinkies cereal is in the works. If consumers are interested in devouring these latest blue cakes with moonberry filling, then the company may extend its limited-edition run.
— Lillianna Byington
'Friends' Central Perk Coffee is there for you
So no one told you it was going to be this way. You know, that you’d have to wait 25 years for coffee named after the legendary coffee house on "Friends" to make it to the market. Could there BE a better way to celebrate one of the most popular sitcoms in TV history?
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Los Angeles is partnering with Warner Bros. to celebrate the anniversary of the legendary TV series "Friends" by creating three packaged products: Central Perk Medium Roast, Central Perk Dark Roast and Central Perk Tea. The products will be available online and in retail stores through the end of summer.
In addition to the “Friends” coffee and tea products, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf will sell drinks named after the six main characters on the show during its 10-year run. The drinks, Beverage Industry reported, include The Joey (Mango Cold Brew Tea), The Monica (Midnight Mocha Cold Brew) and The Ross (Classic Flat White).
It’s unlikely the limited-time product will become much more than a novelty unless the coffee and tea are widely loved or nostalgic fans of the New York City-based TV show quickly snap up the product — prompting makers of the item to bring it back again or increase where they decide to sell it in the future.
Coffee remains among the most popular beverages in the world. The U.S. is the leading global consumer of coffee, with Americans drinking about 400 million cups per day. The high consumption of coffee translates to projected sales reaching nearly $80.9 billion in 2019, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 4.5% through 2023, according to Statista.
It’s no wonder that Coca-Cola, J.M. Smucker and Nestlé have doubled down on their investments into the space. Coca-Cola purchased Costa Coffee while Smucker's Folgers brand introduced a high-end brand of 100% Arabica coffee. Nestlé invested in Blue Bottle, acquired Chameleon Cold-Brew and bought the rights to sell some Starbucks brand coffee products in stores.
But if you feel like you're always stuck in second gear and need a little morning pick me up that leaves you feeling a bit nostalgic, "Friends" Central Perk coffee and tea will be there for you.
— Christopher Doering