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.
Del Monte makes a play for functional fruit cups
Food as medicine has been a common theme throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes Del Monte’s newest fruit cups the latest in a series of product rollouts that play up their functional ingredients.
Del Monte Fruit Infusions are a line of refrigerated fruit chunks in juice, fortified with antioxidants and other ingredients to support specific nutritional needs. Each Fruit Infusion variety is named after its functional purpose. Gut Love contains pineapple in pineapple ginger-flavored juice with digestion-friendly turmeric and prebiotics. Boost Me features mangos and pineapple in mango and dragon fruit-flavored juice with vitamin C and coffee extract for a natural energy kick. Glow On has peaches in passionfruit guava-flavored juice with aloe juice and coconut water, which aids in hydration. And Stay Well offers grapefruit in pomegranate-flavored juice fortified with vitamin C and elderberry extract, both well-known immune boosters.
Each variety contains a full serving of fruit but no added sugar, GMO ingredients or artificial sweeteners, flavors, certified colors or preservatives, according to the company. Del Monte’s Fruit Infusions are launching nationwide this summer at retailers, including Walmart and Kroger, for a suggested price of $1.69.
Del Monte’s foray into functional foods comes less than a month after competitor Dole Packaged Foods debuted its own functional line of fruit bowls and beverages. Dole Fruitify juices and Dole Essentials fruit bowls both contain immunity-boosting ingredients such as turmeric and green tea extract, and coconut water.
According to a 2021 survey by the International Food Information Council cited by Del Monte in its press release, one in five Americans actively seek health benefits from foods. Manufacturers with a fruit-focused product portfolio like Del Monte and Dole already have a leg up in meeting this demand, but also need to keep consumers interested with new flavor combinations, functional ingredient add-ins and highly portable packaging as people return to the office. Products like Fruit Infusions crystallize this unique moment in time, when consumers are more aware of the connection between food and health, but anxious to return to a mobile lifestyle.
— Samantha Oller
French's bakes in the mustard with new bun mashup
After some zany collaborations to commemorate National Mustard Day in the past, McCormick’s iconic French’s brand is going back to basics this year.
Instead of adding the bright yellow condiment to places it isn’t usually seen — like ice cream or beer — French’s partnered with Piantedosi Baking Company to put mustard in a place it’s usually found: hot dog buns. Bright yellow buns with French’s Mustard baked in will be available at pop-up hot dog carts in New York, Chicago, Boston and Santa Monica, California, and at New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles games on Aug. 7, National Mustard Day. The buns will also be available on Aug. 14 at a hot dog stand outside Boston's Fenway Park.
The collaboration between mustard and hot dog buns — as well as the partnership between the 117-year-old condiment brand and the 105-year-old wholesale baker — seems to be a natural one.
"Together, we have over 200 years of quality, creativity and experience," Carmine Piantedosi, operations manager and owner of Piantedosi Baking Company said in a statement announcing the product. "Mixing the bold flavor of their Classic Yellow Mustard and our innovative baking process, we developed a truly unique bread formula for National Mustard Day."
Mustard consistently ranks as America’s favorite hot dog topping, with 68% of hot dog eaters putting the condiment on their hot dogs, according to a survey from the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council and the North American Meat Institute. (The industry group says putting ketchup on a hot dog is a faux pas for adults, though in the survey it was the second most popular topping.) Creating a bun with a favorite condiment already included could intrigue hot dog-loving consumers.
This French's mashup may be the first to pique the interest of a broad spectrum of consumers, not just mustard superfans. Last year, the yellow condiment partnered with craft brewery Oskar Blues to create French’s Mustard Beer. In 2019, French’s scooped into frozen desserts with a bright yellow ice cream made in collaboration with Coolhaus.
Though this is a limited-time promotion, the synergy between hot dogs and mustard may prove popular. And, like previous National Mustard Day promotions, French’s is providing recipes for consumers to bake their own mustard bread at home if they can’t get their hands on the buns. If these recipes can truly capture the taste of the condiment, French’s Mustard’s future as a baking ingredient may be bright.
— Megan Poinski
Pumpkin spice crosses the ramen Rubicon
It started innocently enough with lattes, muffins and other sweet, fall-inspired treats. Then it made its way into beers, Pringles and even dog treats. But now pumpkin spice has fully crossed into new territory by flavoring that beloved college food staple: ramen noodles.
Nissin Foods has launched its first limited edition flavor for Cup Noodles with a pumpkin spice variety. The fall-themed flavor will appear exclusively in Walmart beginning in late October.
In a press release, the company cites a nationwide survey that found more than half of Gen Z consumers were “obsessed” with pumpkin spice, with 10% of respondents craving the flavor throughout the year.
Unlike Nissin’s other ramen varieties, which include savory and spicy Cup Noodles and Top Ramen flavors, Pumpkin Spice Cup Noodles is not a soup. Instead, it combines ramen noodles with a sweet and savory pumpkin seasoning that turns into a sauce with some water and four minutes in the microwave. Nissin even encourages consumers to top their Pumpkin Spice Cup Noodles with whipped cream “for the quickest, tastiest and most outlandish pumpkin spice in-a-cup experience you never knew you needed.”
Ramen noodles are not the only unusual pumpkin spice medium. In 2019, Hormel Foods offered a limited-edition Pumpkin Spice Spam.
For Nissin’s Cup Noodles, this year may be as good as any to test the boundaries of Gen Z’s pumpkin spice obsession. The brand is celebrating its 50th anniversary and demonstrating how responsive it is to its consumer base. This past May, Nissin announced it would bring back the “O” in its brand name. An online survey conducted by the company found that more than 80% of consumers who love ramen still called the brand “Cup O' Noodles" even though it had been renamed “Cup Noodles" in 1993.
— Samantha Oller