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.
Dunkaroos bounce back
A popular ‘90s snack is making a comeback.
General Mills is reviving Dunkaroos, its signature graham cracker cookies with a side of vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles for dipping, after eight years. The company announced the snack's return to shelves this summer on a blog post this week.
Dunkaroos was first introduced to the market in 1992 under General Mills’ Betty Crocker brand. Originally, the different shaped cookies came with chocolate or vanilla frosting, according to General Mills. By 1993, Dunkaroos had four flavors of frosting, including Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon, Peanut Butter and the widely popular Rainbow Sprinkles.
Brad Hiranaga, General Mills’ chief brand officer for North America, told The New York Times the company pulled the product from U.S. shelves in 2012 because the company was focusing on healthier snacks. But, he said, there has been a comeback in the works for years because it receives “thousands of consumer requests for the product.”
Since they went off shelves, Dunkaroo fans in the U.S. have ordered them online from other countries. General Mills Canada even went as far as releasing a website called Smugglaroos, which encouraged Canadians traveling to the United States to bring Dunkaroos across the border for Americans who didn’t have them in stores, according to The Globe and Mail. The Smugglaroos website is no longer active.
Big Food has been working to reboot and revive older brands in recent years as nostalgia has become a big selling point for consumers. Turning back time and bringing shoppers a snack from their past can get sentimental consumers to open their wallets. It's been a strategy for products including Hostess Brands' Twinkies. Now, that seems to be the goal for Dunkaroos.
But should consumers be worried that the snack will be pulled from shelves again? Hiranaga doesn’t seem to think so.
“We’re very committed to launching them,” he told The Times. “So you don’t have to worry at this point about stocking them up and putting them in your zombie apocalypse locker.”
— Lillianna Byington
Cupid strikes with Valentine’s Day RXBAR
Forget the candy, flowers or jewelry. What your significant other really wants this Valentine’s Day is to get in on one of the most popular trends in food: snack bars.
This Valentine's Day, RXBAR is encouraging people to “skip the small talk and choose the date that would never lie in their dating profile.” The new Chocolate Raspberry RXBAR contains real, simple ingredients such as egg whites, nuts and, of course, dates. The limited-edition bar is being sold at select Whole Foods stores.
"Nothing says Valentine's Day like chocolate-covered berries," Jim Murray, president of RXBAR, said in a statement. "With the new Chocolate Raspberry RXBAR, we're giving fans a better-for-you way to indulge, whether it's for someone special or to treat themselves."
For those consumers who really want to impress their significant other this Valentine’s Day, the Kellogg-owned brand is offering a variety pack exclusively for sale on its website. The collection features some of the brand's most indulgent protein bars — Chocolate Sea Salt, Chocolate Raspberry and Chocolate Cherry — “making for a gift that is sure to delight.”
Consumers are expected to dole out a record amount for gifts for Valentine’s Day this year, with spending forecast at $27.4 billion, up 32% from last year’s record of $20.7 billion, according to data from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Spending on candy for February 14 is predicted at $2.4 billion.
With so much money up for grabs, Valentine’s Day remains a lucrative way for many food companies to cash in.
Last year, Mondelez’s Oreo cookie sold a sweet and tangy flavored creme variety adorned with sayings including “Dunk In Love,” “Let’s Twist.” “XOXO Oreo” and “Dear Cupid Send Oreo.” The cookies came with a set of holiday stickers. This year, candy giant Hershey is offering a Valentine’s Day tin loaded with Hershey’s Miniatures, Kisses and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures.
For food and beverage companies aiming to boost sales, holidays or memorable moments like Christmas, Easter, the Fourth of July and Halloween are easy ways for them to roll out modified versions of existing treats available for a limited time. It’s no wonder CPG companies are cozying up to one-of-a-kind products like the RXBAR to woo consumers who were struck by Cupid's arrow.
— Christopher Doering
Making Ripples in plant-based ice cream
One of the first brands that made consumers realize peas were more than just a side dish is moving into the freezer section.
Ripple, which made a splash with its pea protein milk that launched in 2016, is adding an ice cream line to its portfolio. RIpple’s ice cream is made with the brand’s signature pea protein, as well as coconut oil to make the texture more like dairy ice cream.
The ice cream, which debuts in Sprouts Farmers Markets this week, comes in five flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate, Cinnamon Churro, Mint Chip and Cookies & Creme. Depending on the flavor, Ripple Ice Cream has 230 to 250 calories per serving.
This isn’t the first line extension for the brand, which is commonly identified by the distinctive rounded shape of its milk jugs and its high protein content. In the last four years, Ripple has expanded to yogurt, half and half, superfood drinks, barista-style milk for frothing and sour cream. This is its first expansion to the dessert or indulgence sector.
Many other dairy alternative products are expanding into other product lines, showing they can do more than the milk or yogurt for which they first became known. Just this week, Forager Project, known for its cashew-based yogurt and milk, expanded into oat milk, grain-free cereal and chips, yogurt with probiotics and butter. Kite Hill, which started out as a vegan cheesemaker and now is in the nut-based yogurt and dip space, added coconut milk yogurt and sour cream to its portfolio. And even older players are getting into different areas of the plant-based game, with Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s making ice cream out of sunflower seed butter.
Plant-based ice cream is a potentially lucrative category, so it’s a sensible place for Ripple to expand its brand. According to the Plant Based Foods Association, in the year preceding April 2019, dollar sales of plant-based ice cream and frozen novelties were worth $304 million — up 26% from the previous year.
And as alternative dairy gets more popular, the brand that is best known for pea protein fills a niche in the freezer section. While other brands of plant-based ice cream use pea protein as an ingredient — Unilever’s Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s do, as does small California-based creamery McConnell’s — none of the companies that put the legume at the center of their product are in ice cream. To many consumers, Ripple means pea protein, and they can now more easily have their peas for dessert.
— Megan Poinski