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.
For Valentine’s Day, Kraft Heinz tickles its Mac & Cheese pink
With the pandemic putting a damper on romantic restaurant dinners for Valentine’s Day, Kraft Heinz has stepped in to fill the void with a solution that’s both cheesy and sweet — literally.
Just in time for a romantic dinner at home, the company is launching limited-edition Candy Kraft Mac & Cheese. This variety of the iconic blue box meal is essentially the classic Mac & Cheese with a “candy flavor packet” that turns the noodles pink and gives them a slight candy flavor, the company said in a release. Candy Mac & Cheese is not sold in stores; Kraft Heinz is giving away 1,000 boxes in an online sweepstakes. To enter, consumers just need to enter their names, addresses and emails on a contest website.
“Sure it sounds a little strange, but hey, love makes people do strange things,” the website says.
The bigger question is, will your Valentine be tickled pink?
This Valentine’s Day offering from Kraft Heinz is the latest in a line of food brands crossing the sweet/savory line to create something that looks crazy and may also taste surprising, but certainly gets people talking. Ferrero’s Brach’s brand sold Turkey Day Candy Corn leading up to Thanksgiving last year, crossing the savory dishes from the holiday feast with the marshmallow and marzipan flavor of the candy. McCormick’s French’s brand teamed up with Coolhaus Ice Cream to make a mustard flavor of the frozen treat. And Post brought savory tastes to breakfast bowls with its Chicken & Waffles and Maple Bacon Donuts cereals.
This new product is a wholesome — and safe — way for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese to put itself forward as an item that is associated with love and care. A previous campaign, which invited consumers to give their loved ones boxes of Macaroni & Cheese at a website to “send noods” (as in noodles) was taken down following extensive social media backlash. For Candy Kraft Mac & Cheese, the most controversial thing is the product itself.
— Megan Poinski
Slice, slice baby!
The messy process of adding condiments such as ketchup and hot sauce to a burger or sandwich could soon be a thing of the past if a tiny upstart has its way.
Slice of Sauce has created conveniently sliced mess-free condiment slices — much like pre-wrapped sliced cheese — that can be added to food by parents, sports enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers and health-conscious individuals. Each gluten-free and vegan slice is made with non-GMO ingredients and has no high-fructose corn syrup or artificial ingredients. It also eschews refrigeration, which is typically needed for many condiments.
The new product, currently available for pre-order, comes in three flavors: Classic Ketchup, Spicy Sriracha and Habanero Hot Sauce. According to the company, Slice of Sauce was born out of cooking curiosity when co-founder Emily Williams took an old family BBQ sauce recipe that called for braising and then discarding loads of vegetables. Williams kept the veggies rather than throwing them out, instead deciding to mix them together to create a slice of sauce. Soon after she decided to do the same thing to create ketchup — the most popular condiment.
“We’re igniting a conversation about food and its boundaries, while reminding people to have a little fun," Williams said in a statement. "We’re going to prove that slices aren’t just for cheese anymore!”
While Slice of Sauce is still in its infancy, the potential market it could tap into is much larger. The size of the global sauces, dressings and condiments market was estimated at $142.5 billion in 2020, according to a Grand View Research report published in August 2019. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.8% from 2019 to 2025 to reach $181.01 billion by 2025, the firm said.
Still, even with its convenience and better-for-you ingredients, Slice of Sauce faces a challenge grabbing market share from some of the big players in the industry like Kraft Heinz's iconic ketchup or McCormick & Co.'s Frank's RedHot sauce. It also commands a price premium, costing $5.99 for eight slices.
To help Slice of Sauce grow, the company was recently profiled on the television show Shark Tank, where baseball player turned investor Alex Rodriguez invested $200,000 in the business.
— Christopher Doering
Gr8nola’s new peanut butter flavor makes a statement about girl power
Food product development is a team effort, but Gr8nola took it one step further in creating the new peanut butter flavor for its line of low-sugar, superfood-enriched granolas.
The California-based startup had a celebrity fan and influencer in Nigel Barker, photographer and former judge on America’s Next Top Model. He approached company founder Erica Liu Williams about a mentorship opportunity with one of the nonprofits he champions, Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation initiative focused on gender equality.
During a period of six months, Liu Williams worked with five high school age Girl Up teen advisors to collaborate on everything from developing a new granola flavor to its marketing and late-January launch.
“There's a great kind of feel-good aspect of it, where it's women empowering the next generation of female leaders,” Liu Williams said.
Liu Williams gave the girls some framework to consider in developing the taste profile, such as how much demand there was in the market for certain flavors. After narrowing the options down to fruit, chocolate or peanut butter, the team asked Gr8nola’s customer community and social media followers for their votes. The rest is history.
In addition to whole-grain oats, Peanut Butter Gr8nola contains peanuts, honey, chia seeds and ashwagandha. The adaptogenic herb has been used since ancient times to help with stress relief. Despite ashwagandha’s value during a stressful pandemic, the priority was always flavor.
“At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if this is going to help with your stress — you're going to still want to enjoy and have a really tasty granola, which is why I went with peanut butter, but then you can add a functional element to it,” Liu Williams said.
Gr8nola is selling its peanut butter variety direct-to-consumer and on Amazon in 10-ounce and 4.5-pound bulk sizes. A portion of the proceeds go to Girl Up.
The combination of a celebrity influencer, a worthy cause and direct-to-consumer sales has given Gr8nola an opportunity to do more than just good. It’s provided the company, which launched in 2013, with a lifeline during the tumultuous consumption shifts of the pandemic. Pre-COVID-19, about 80% of Gr8nola’s volumes flowed through the employee cafeterias of Silicon Valley giants such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Dropbox, Liu WIlliams said. But as working from home became the norm, Gr8nola had to pivot to DTC and online sales, develop a small retail base and forge partnerships with delivery services such as Imperfect Foods.
Ultimately though, Liu Williams said the successful launch of Peanut Butter Gr8nola is a story about the power of mentorship, young girls and women working together, and having a social impact.
“Being able to have more to talk about than just the product and functionality, I think that will really resonate with consumers these days,” she said.
— Samantha Oller