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.
Crunch time for Hostess
For generations, Hostess has been known as a maker of sweet snack cakes that are full of flavors, coating and fillings. But with its new Crispy Minis launch, Hostess is moving into another space: Crunchy.
Crispy Minis are small wafer cookies that layer flavors of creme between crispy cookies. They come in two varieties: Cookies & Creme, which is made with real cocoa, and Strawberries & Creme, made with real fruit. Hostess touts not only the indulgent flavors of its new snacks, but their sweet smell, preserved by its resealable packaging.
This snack sounds like a mash up between one of Hostess’ trademark cream-filled pastries and a basic wafer cookie, and for good reason. After all, Hostess acquired Voortman, well known for its layered wafer cookies, in 2020. It was likely only a matter of time before the brands collaborated to give their offerings an added bonus.
Both Hostess’ sweet baked goods and Voortman-branded products have performed well on their own, according to Hostess’ earnings reports. In the most recent quarter, Hostess Brands saw a 9% sales increase — 5% coming from its sweet baked good products and 4% coming from the Voortman products.
Innovative cookies have seen sales rise. According to IRI figures reported by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery for the 52 weeks leading up to April 19, 2020, cookie sales were up 5.1% compared to the year prior, for total annual sales of $9.3 billion.
As the pandemic subsides and consumers start returning to more normal lives, they still want to eat cookies, IRI told Baking Business in April. Cookie makers need to be able to deliver for different snacking occasions. With a resealable pouch and bite size indulgent taste, Crispy Minis are an easy on-the-go snack.
Crispy Minis also are in keeping with Hostess’ other new products this year: portable versions of decadent treats. Earlier this year, the company launched new lines of breakfast sweets, including dippable Muff’n Stix, nut-topped cinnamon rolls Pecan Spins and miniatures of the distinctively shaped coffee cakes Baby Bundts.
— Megan Poinski
Twisted Tea gets a little saucy
As consumers look to cool down this summer with a glass of iced tea, Boston Beer is offering a refreshing take on the popular beverage.
Boston Beer’s hard iced tea brand Twisted Tea is turning to Mighty Quinn’s, a BBQ joint in New York City, to serve up the first-ever Twisted Tea-infused Mighty Quinn’s BBQ Sauce. The condiment, described as robust, savory and sweet, promises to “dial summer meals up a notch.”
"Whether they’re using Twisted Tea in a marinade or sipping while working the grill, we know Twisted Tea and BBQ go hand-in-hand," Erica Taylor, Twisted Teas brand director, said in an email. "So, with summertime here and backyard barbeques back this year, we mashed up two of our drinker’s favorites."
The partnership isn’t the first for a Boston Beer brand. Last summer, the company launched a line of boozy sorbets and ice creams made with Truly's spiked lemonade flavors.
Boston Beer has benefited from sales of its alcohol-infused beverages, such as Truly Hard Seltzer, Angry Orchard Hard Cider and Twisted Tea. But the movement into products like a sauce or sorbet offers a way for the alcohol company to extend its name into other categories.
The extensions also offer a natural pairing of two products. In the case of Twisted Tea, the consumer could enjoy a cool alcoholic beverage while coating their burger or ribs with Twisted Tea-infused Mighty Quinn’s BBQ Sauce.
Twisted Tea is not the first alcoholic brand to get into BBQ sauce.
Budweiser has sold its own self-branded sauce since 2016. Jack Daniels and Jim Beam also have developed liquor-infused barbecue sauces. And Rufus Teague, a maker of craft BBQ sauces and rubs, recently partnered with Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City.
BBQ sauce is one of the most popular condiments. According to data from Statista published in November, an estimated 210.7 million people consumed BBQ sauce during the last 30 days.
Still, the condiment has struggled in recent years amid competition from substitutes such as hot sauce and other ethnic spices. IBISWorld estimated BBQ sauce industry revenue has fallen 2.7% annually during the past five years to $1.8 billion. Unique pairings like the Twisted Tea offering might give the category the jolt it needs to catch fire once again.
— Christopher Doering
Soonish taps into better-for-you beer
With ingredients that include banana, millet, sorghum and honey, it’s easy to confuse Soonish with a wholesome baked good. In reality, the “natural beer” aims to be a better alternative to the gluten-free beers currently available.
Containing 4.2% ABV and 110 calories in each 12-ounce can, Soonish also is low-sugar, naturally gluten-free, non-GMO and contains no added preservatives or flavors, according to the company. It is being sold in six-packs in Soonish’s home base of Los Angeles at area retailers, restaurants, bars and natural grocers.
Founders Chip Welsh and Greg Maiatico created Soonish after dealing with digestive issues from drinking gluten-based beer, according to a press release. With the help of Jon Carpenter, the head brewmaster, they developed Soonish to include their favorite features of different beverages — the distinctive taste of cider and kombucha, the lightness of hard seltzer, and the beerness of beer.
“In crafting Soonish we sought out an adult beverage that contained the lighter benefits of ‘natural’, while remaining ‘beer-like,’ ” Maiatico and Welsh said in a statement.
The gluten-free beer space is swirling with brews made from millet, buckwheat, rice or corn, although technological advancements have reopened the door to feedstocks like wheat and barley. Dozens of craft breweries have introduced gluten-free and -reduced variations of everything from ales to witbiers to IPAs. Many of the products also were inspired by their brewers’ struggles with gluten sensitivity — a condition shared by 18 million Americans — and the disappointing selection of digestion-friendly, flavorful beers.
Big breweries also have played in the space. In 2006, Anheuser-Busch introduced what it said was the first nationally available sorghum beer, Redbridge.
About five years ago, MillerCoors introduced Coors Peak Copper and Golden lagers, made from brown rice, although it has since been discontinued. Soonish is offered as a lighter, simpler, more wholesome alternative. And with the same amount of calories as a 12-ounce can of Bud Light and slightly less alcohol content, it appears to be easy on the stomach in more ways than one.
— Samantha Oller