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 Kit Kat flavor takes the cake
Kit Kat wants consumers to celebrate with its latest flavor innovation.
Hershey announced this week that it is launching a Kit Kat Birthday Cake bar nationwide in April 2020. The limited-edition treat has a white creme exterior and will be the first Kit Kat bar that includes sprinkles.
Kit Kat is far from the first brand to make a birthday cake flavor, so it will have a variety of products to compete with. The birthday cake flavor is a popular trend throughout food and drink, typically created for brand anniversaries. In 2018, 3 Musketeers launched a festive bar to celebrate its 86th birthday. Hostess celebrated 100 years with the launch of Birthday CupCakes last year.
So how does Kit Kat’s newest flavor match up?
“Like most birthday cakes, Birthday Cake Kit Kat is best in moderation. It’s very sweet, and it tastes just like a sugar rush,” Aimee Levitt wrote in The Takeout. “The sprinkles do give it a nice crunch.”
Hershey has been increasing its Kit Kat flavor innovation in the U.S. The company launched a dark chocolate mint version last year and brought back its pumpkin spice flavored candy last fall. And birthday cake isn't the first new Kit Kat this year. So far in 2020, Kit Kat has already launched a raspberry creme flavor for Valentine’s Day. Lemon crisp should be hitting shelves in April.
Internationally, Kit Kat is known for its broad portfolio of flavors. Nestlé makes Kit Kats abroad in 16 countries, including Canada, Australia, Germany, Russia, Japan and India, according to Forbes. In Japan, the Kit Kat portfolio includes more than 300 flavors, including Matcha, Wasabi and Apple. Kit Kat was the first brand to use ruby chocolate in bars sold in Japan, Korea and Europe, as well as the first to make chocolate only using the cacao plant in a bar available in Japan.
As U.S. Kit Kats start to go beyond the plain milk chocolate variety, it's apparent some of that innovation is starting to come to the market here. The raspberry flavor was already available in Japan.
In 2018, Hershey said Kit Kat is poised to become the "next $1 billion global brand." Innovation seems to be a key part of that.
This likely won’t be the end of Kit Kat’s innovation in the U.S. this year. Last year, some potential flavor launches were leaked, including Chocolate Creme Pie, Orange Creamsicle, Cotton Candy and Cherry Cola. The ruby chocolate Kit Kat could also make its way to the U.S., since the FDA is now allowing the confection to be called "chocolate" on labels.
— Lillianna Byington
Hey now, you’re a rockstar … making gummies
While Smashmallow has focused on marshmallows and crispy treats in the past, the snacks maker has never been shy about telegraphing its bigger ambitions.
Now, Smashmallow is aiming to disrupt the non-chocolate confections category with Smashgummy. The product touts popular attributes — including having only three grams of sugar per serving, eschewing major allergens and using non-GMO ingredients — all while being free from controversial ingredients like carrageenan, artificial colors and flavors and corn syrup.
The product is available in two varieties: Fresh Picked, a fruit-inspired medley with strawberry, cherry, orange and peach; and a sour version with watermelon, raspberry, lemon and green apple in the aptly named Pucker Up variety. The product is for sale on Smashmallow’s website and Amazon for $3.29 per bag.
"Smashmallow has always been committed to creating permissibly indulgent snacks using the best real and natural ingredients possible, allowing consumers a chance to satisfy that sweet craving in a mindful yet delicious way," Jon Sebastiani, the company’s founder, said in a statement. “It was important for us to find the right balance of taste without compromising the experience and expectations of the Smash brand.”
The company is hopeful it can succeed with fruit snacks and overcome some of the obstacles that have hampered other competitors in the CPG space.
Kind, which developed into a billion-dollar powerhouse in the snacking bar category, announced in September it would pull its fruit bites off retail shelves after two years on the market. The fruit snack, made without synthetic dyes, struggled to attract kids who were used to fluorescent colored snacks and food that tastes sweet.
As consumers snack more and look to eat healthier, all while doing more of it on the go, companies like Smashmallow are tailoring their new product offerings to better cater to these needs. But as Kind and others have found, just because a product is loaded with popular attributes doesn’t necessarily guarantee success.
— Christopher Doering
A Dozen Cousins grows Black History Month awareness
Food is more than sustenance. It can tell powerful stories, preserve cultural traditions and take people on a journey — all while keeping their bodies fueled for another day.
A Dozen Cousins was founded in part to tell some of those stories through food. The brand sells ready-to-eat beans cooked and seasoned like they would be traditionally in Cuba, Mexico and Trinidad. Founder Ibraheem Basir has said that he designed the brand to bring authentic and healthy options from Latin America and the Caribbean to consumers, and to give minorities who may feel left out of the natural food space a product that speaks to them.
For Black History Month, A Dozen Cousins launched three varieties of heirloom rice. Each one has a distinct cultural flavor and story behind it, and each was cultivated by the African diaspora in the Western Hemisphere hundreds of years ago. And while beans and rice as a dish has a distinct association with African-American communities, the crop itself owes quite a lot to the Africans who were brought as slaves to the United States.
“For at least 3,000 years rice has been grown in Africa using a variety of methods,” an email the company sent to Food Dive says. “Not only was it both a field and a paddy crop, but there are even deep water varieties of wild rice that were harvested by canoe. It was the agricultural expertise of enslaved Africans (and not just their labor) that enabled the rice crop to thrive in the hot and humid weather of The Carolinas.”
A Dozen Cousins’ rice varieties include Heirloom Ofada Rice, native to Nigeria and notoriously difficult to mill and clean, so grains often look striped; Hoppin’ John Rice, which makes the classic black eyed peas dish with heirloom Carolina Gold rice — not grown much in the United States since slavery was abolished; and Coconut Rice made using traditional recipes from the state of Bahia in northeast Brazil.
While it isn’t uncommon to see food products adopt new flavors, shapes, colors and varieties for holidays, most of these are rather surface-level — red cream in a winter holiday Oreo or heart-shaped York Peppermint Patties for Valentine’s Day. A Dozen Cousins takes the idea several steps further, using the commemorative month to keep traditions and knowledge of the past alive.
But do consumers really want a history lesson with their dinner? The proof is in the sales. A Dozen Cousins sold out of the rice within a week and a half of putting it up for sale online.
— Megan Poinski