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.
New partnership freshens up Hidden Valley Ranch
On its website, salad dressing brand Hidden Valley Ranch has more than 10 recipes for making chicken salad with both mayonnaise and the classic buttermilk dressing.
But it’s about to get easier to have ranch chicken salad. The Clorox-owned dressing brand partnered with product developer Duke Brands to create two chicken salads and four appetizer dips that will be sold in the grocery store’s refrigerated section. Chicken salads coming next year include Classic Ranch Chicken Salad and Hidden Valley Ranch Bacon, Cheddar & Ranch Chicken Salad. Dip varieties include Buffalo Ranch Chicken Dip, Bacon Cheddar Ranch Dip, Southwestern Ranch Bean and Cheese Dip, and ranch seasoned Spinach Artichoke Dip.
While Hidden Valley Ranch’s products mainly dominate shelves in the center of the store, these new offerings bring the classic dressing to the retailer’s perimeter.
“The new dips and chicken salads give fans even more ways to enjoy Hidden Valley Ranch, alone or as the centerpiece of a great family meal,” Kara McCarthy, director of Clorox’s office of strategic alliances, said in a written statement.
When it comes to condiments, ranch dressing is clearly a favorite among consumers. Earlier this year, marketing data collected by AdAge indicated ranch is currently a $1 billion retail business in the U.S., surpassing ketchup, which had $833 million in sales.
Hidden Valley Ranch — which originated the distinctly American salad dressing in the late 1940s — is the market leader with a 51% share, according to IRI data cited by AdAge. So if consumers are looking for any brand to take the flavor outside of the traditional salad dressing bottle, they’ll gladly consume what Hidden Valley Ranch has to offer.
The brand, one of the few food offerings owned by Clorox, has spent 2019 innovating its product and breaking into adjacent markets. In the springtime, the brand launched Blasted Creamy Dipping Sauces — three super-charged and thicker varieties for dipping. And the brand even launched a limited time holiday gift: A stocking filled with 52 ounces of ranch dressing.
The efforts have paid off for the brand. In Clorox’s most recent earnings call in October, CEO Benno Dorer said Hidden Valley has seen 19 consecutive quarters of share growth.
This latest launch takes the popular flavor that consumers love and freshens it up, literally. Fresh, ready-to-eat dips and salads extend Hidden Valley Ranch’s product line and make the flavors more accessible and convenient to busy consumers.
— Megan Poinski
A very cheesy Christmas
Aldi’s latest product launch may sound a little cheesy.
The store is now selling clear ornaments with four small cheese blocks in them for $4.99 each. The plastic balls either have a snowflake or a cheese wedge Christmas tree designs. They contain individually wrapped cheeses inside: two mild cheddar and two grass-fed aged cheddar.
Aldi may have success with this new cheese product because of its seasonal appeal. The holiday season is known to push more people to purchase spirited products. Although this Christmas cheese may not be a lasting ornament — it probably shouldn’t be kept at room temperature on a tree for weeks — the plastic can easily be opened and more treats put inside.
But Aldi is far from alone in promoting its holiday offerings. Various food companies have been getting into the holiday spirit with their own products in recent months, like Hidden Valley’s 52-ounce stocking filled with ranch dressing and Pepperidge Farm’s Rockettes-inspired cookies.
Aldi could see success since this is its own brand. Private label sales have been growing four times faster than national brands, according to a report from Coresight Research. The discount supermarket seems to be prioritizing its own products, raking in 200 awards for its private label brands in 2017, Grocery Dive reported.
Aldi seems to be offering a wide variety of cheese products this year. The store is also selling a collection of festive cheese in star and Santa shapes that come in a few different flavors, as well as a cheese Advent calendar.
Although dairy categories including milk and ice cream have struggled in recent years, cheese has become more popular. More than 95% of U.S households purchase some kind of cheese, according to IRI data reported by Winsight Grocery Business. If the market for cheese and holiday spirit pushes consumers to buy Aldi’s latest innovation, then this could be a lucrative product launch.
— Lillianna Byington
Chips Ahoy's new ice cream sandwiches, without the ice cream
If making your own ice cream sandwiches is another headache you just don’t want to worry about this season, Chips Ahoy has you covered.
The Mondelez-owned cookie brand has an ice cream sandwich kit that includes almost everything you need to make the popular cold snack at home. The package includes eight cookies, sprinkles, a sprinkle tray, a bright red scooper and a mold to help put it all together. The back of the packaging even has helpful step-by-step instructions showing how to make your own ice cream sandwich.
One essential item missing from the kit, of course, is a key part of a frozen dairy essential: the ice cream. Walmart, Big Lots, Amazon and other retailers selling the kit are no doubt hoping it brings more people in the door or to their site, where they can load up their carts with the frozen treat — as well as holiday gifts and daily household staples.
Food kits are a popular option for consumers who want the convenience of having everything in one self-contained package. Hershey recently offered a make-your-own s’mores kit containing all of the essentials like Hershey chocolate bars, graham crackers and marshmallows. The items were packed inside a brown, tackle-box-like carrying case for easy portability. Aldi this summer also sold its own jumbo s’mores cookie kit that reportedly serves 16 people.
Ideas like the ice cream sandwich kit could make a creative holiday gift for friends and loved ones who love the cookie or the sweet treat. As CPG companies look for new and novel ways to get their products into the hands of consumers, do-it-yourself kits are another tool that Big Food manufacturers will continue to deploy.
— Christopher Doering