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.
Dogfish Head brews the 'Turducken' of beer
As craft beer makers hunt for the next creative offering, Dogfish Head is turning to poultry for inspiration in making its next brew.
Dogfish Head, part of The Boston Beer Company, is partnering with Atlas Obscura’s food and drink vertical Gastro Obscura to launch a limited-edition, first-of-its-kind craft beer experiment: Fermentation Engastration.
Taking its cues from the famous holiday “Turducken” — a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, stuffed into a deboned turkey — the limited-time offering draws inspiration from the combination of five different fermented alcoholic beverages: a rose-scented sake, a Mid-Atlantic honey and date mead, a bittersweet hard cider, a fruity Muscat wine and a rustic farmhouse ale. The alcohols, which are fermented for as little as a few weeks to as long as four months, are then blended together at different rates.
The beer includes a combination of self-described “off-centered culinary ingredients,” including barley, spelt, muscat grape juice concentrate, flaked rice, apple juice concentrate, honey rice syrup, date syrup, yeast, hops and rose petals.
Dogfish Head is only producing 1,000 of the pint-sized bottles, which have an alcohol by volume of 10% — though only about 250 or so were distributed to the public, with the rest held for sale and sampling at festivals and other events. The first 150 bottles of beer sold out quickly on launch day, before the brewer released the remaining 100 bottles.
“As brewers and ‘mad scientists’ of sorts, it’s always been a fascination of ours to deconstruct, reimagine and reassemble how drinkers experience each sip of a new beer,” Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head’s founder and brewer. "Our latest example of that thinking is Fermentation Engastration, kind of like the ‘turducken’ of beer, which artfully melds a whole myriad of complex ideas and brewing concepts into one multi-layered drinking event.”
During a media event introducing the new beer, Calagione said the brewer “would be excited to make this liquid again.” But he noted another batch would use a different crop of ingredients, meaning it could likely have a different blend ratio of the five different alcohols and potentially a slightly different flavor.
As consumer tastes change and evolve, alcohol makers continue to search for unique flavor profiles to grab their attention as many people increasingly turn to spirits and ready-to-drink cocktails, and as the once fast-growing hard seltzer category loses momentum — hitting manufacturers like Boston Beer and its Truly Hard Seltzer brand.
To expand its portfolio, Boston Beer has partnered with Sauza tequila maker Beam Suntory to launch Sauza Agave Cocktails, worked with PepsiCo on a Hard Mtn Dew and launched a Nordic-inspired sparkling drink called Bevy.
— Christopher Doering
Dole cooks up a way to make the main course at dinner
As the world’s largest fresh produce company, consumers know Dole as the brand that can provide them fresh bananas or pineapple for a sweet treat, canned fruits for healthy packed lunch treats and bagged salads for a fresh side dish for dinner.
But with its newest launch, Dole is aiming to show that it can also make a dinnertime main dish. Dole’s new Sheet Pan Meal Starter Kits, now available at some stores in the Eastern and Southeastern U.S., are designed to have almost everything a consumer would need to make a main course. The bagged dinners contain fresh vegetables and seasoning. In order to make a full meal, the consumer pours the vegetables on a rimmed sheet pan, adds meat or another protein, finishes with the seasoning and bakes. And after dinner, there’s just one pan to clean.
"Our new Sheet Pan Meal Starter Kits are the culmination of considerable research and trend analysis and allow us to deliver on exactly what consumers are looking for — great-tasting, convenient, one-pan healthy meal solutions,” Dole Food Company Senior Director of Product Innovation Shannon Yamada said in a written statement.
The new kits, which will be sold near Dole salad kits in the grocery store’s fresh section, are launching in three varieties: Homestyle Roasted Herb — featuring baby carrots, mini red potatoes and green beans with rosemary thyme seasoning; French Onion — with baby carrots, mini red potatoes and green beans with onion, garlic and parsley seasoning; and Lemon Parmesan — a blend of baby carrots, mini red potatoes, broccoli florets and garlic parmesan and lemon pepper parmesan cheese seasoning.
Sheet pan dinners have become more popular among consumers in recent years — and especially during the pandemic. The easy cooking method and cleanup can create a well-balanced and tasty meal without much work. There are literally thousands of recipes available online for sheet pan dinners. And while following a recipe leads to a fairly easy meal, it is one that requires chopping vegetables and precisely measuring ingredients — steps that become much simpler for the consumer with a kit.
Since it began the process of going public last year, Dole has been working to diversify its consumer offerings. The produce company, which solidified its dominance as the legacy Dole company merged with Ireland’s former Total Produce LLC, has quickly moved into functional juices and is eyeing ways to build greater supply in fast-growing categories like berries.
According to the paperwork Dole filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission before its IPO, fresh vegetables make up about 28% of the company’s business — which is dominated by fruit, especially bananas. CEO Rory Byrne has said he wants Dole to broaden its offerings and increase name recognition, especially in the vegetable area. Products like Sheet Pan Meal Starter Kits can help do that.
— Megan Poinski
Utz taps its Cheese Balls and pickles for new chip flavors
Pennyslvania-based snacks brand Utz has been trying new ways to add freshness to its products in recent years, and now it is looking to its own portfolio for inspiration.
Utz has announced two new potato chip flavors: a Ripples chip with the cheddar flavor of its own Utz Cheese Balls, and a Classic Dill Pickle flavor made in collaboration with Grillo’s Pickles. The limited-time flavors are available in 2.625- and 7.75-ounce bags.
The fusing of Utz potato chips with the salty flavor of Grillo’s, which started in 2008 selling pickles from a cart in Boston, makes sense given the over 100% growth of pickle and pickle-flavored potato chips in the past year, according to Mintel data cited by Utz in the press release. Eddie Andre, Grillo's director of brand experience, said that the fusion of his brand's pickles and Utz chips is a nostalgic experience.
"I would eat Utz potato chips and a Grillo's spear while selling pickles out of our pickle cart in Boston; so having two of the best snacks available collaborate, is a dream come true," Andre said.
Utz's Cheese Balls, typically sold in a large plastic barrel containing roughly 1,100 of the cheddar orbs, have long been a fan favorite since the company began making them in 1990.
For snack makers, looking within one’s own portfolio of products for flavor inspiration gives consumers a new way to enjoy familiar brands. Last summer, Frito-Lay added the flavor of Doritos Cool Ranch and Funyuns to Lay’s potato chips. It has also introduced its Flamin Hot flavoring, once only available in Cheetos, widely across its portfolio, to everything from Doritos to Mtn Dew.
Utz's flavor expansion comes during a time of growth for the company. In its latest earnings call, CEO Dylan Lissette said demand for Utz's snack products "remains robust," as its net sales grew nearly 27% in the quarter.
— Chris Casey