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.
Reese's doubles down on peanut butter with new cups
As consumers celebrated National Peanut Butter Lovers Day on March 1, confectionery giant Hershey announced it was giving fans of the beloved spread another way to indulge.
For the first time in its more than 90-year history, Hershey's Reese's brand is removing the chocolate coating and releasing a new version of the iconic Peanut Butter Cups entirely made from the protein-rich spread. Reese's produced limited edition Peanut Butter Lovers Cups in 2019 and 2020 that still included the customary chocolate on the bottom, but an extra layer of peanut butter on top.
"While launching a Reese's Cup with absolutely no chocolate might come as a shock, we're giving the truest peanut butter fans something to go wild about," Margo McIlvaine, Reese's brand manager, said in a statement. "You can still enjoy the classic plus get more peanut butter flavor with a new option that's every peanut butter lover's dream!"
The new cups will be available at retailers nationwide beginning next month for a limited time.
Peanut butter is consumed by around 297 million Americans, according to Statista. In 2019, peanut butter dollar sales in the U.S. totaled about $2.3 billion.
Reese's is one of the most popular confectionery brands in the U.S., with sales topping $2 billion.
As part of a broader wave of innovation across its sweets portfolio, Hershey has rolled out new offerings across the Reese's brand, including versions that imbed Reese's Pieces or pretzels, as well as an organic version. In 2019, Hershey parlayed the popularity of the Reese's brand when it rebranded its Take5 bar as Reese's Take5.
— Christopher Doering
Follow Your Heart Rocket Cakes blast into baking
As a vegan food pioneer, Follow Your Heart has a history of boldly going where no plant-based brand had gone before.
The Vegenaise maker is continuing that tradition with a new offering: Rocket Cakes bottled pancake batter. Suitable for pancakes or waffles, the batter is premixed and refrigerated, ready to be squeezed onto a griddle or waffle iron. And, like all products under the Follow Your Heart brand, the batter is vegan — but it's also gluten and soy free, as well as Non GMO Project verified. Instead of wheat flour, this batter is made from a combination of corn, white rice and millet flours.
The product was developed in partnership with Spork Foods, the West Hollywood, California, vegan cooking business that develops recipes for Follow Your Heart. Spork's owners, sisters Heather Bell and Jenny Engel, said at a media event that one of their top goals as working moms is to get their kids to eat a healthy breakfast every day. After getting the idea for this bottled pancake batter, they asked Follow Your Heart if they could help develop it.
After five years of R&D, the product is ready for retail. It will be available on store shelves soon. Follow Your Heart co-founder Bob Goldberg said at the media event that the batter is used to make the waffles at the iconic Los Angeles Follow Your Heart vegan cafe, where the brand got its start 51 years ago.
While Follow Your Heart is well known for its Vegenaise, plant-based cheeses, plant-based dressings and VeganEgg, baking mixes is a completely new category for the company. But while the baking aisle is crowded with newer brands of better-for-you pancake mixes — and there’s even a just-add-water pancake mix bottle from General Mills' Betty Crocker and Bisquick brands — there are no similar premixed pancake batters on the market.
Although it's taken five years to develop Rocket Cakes, now is the right time for a new launch in the breakfast category. Stay-at-home orders associated with the coronavirus pandemic have made the first meal of the day more popular, since consumers have more time to spend at home. According to GlobalData, home consumption of pancakes was estimated to have grown 25% last year.
The Rocket Cakes launch comes at the same time as some other big news from Follow Your Heart. Last month, French dairy and plant-based giant Danone announced it was acquiring the company. And because the brand had its golden anniversary last year, it is rolling out rebranded products — complete with cartoons of Goldberg and his fellow Follow Your Heart founders Michael Besançon, Paul Lewin and Spencer Windbiel as they looked in 1970 on the back. On the Rocket Cakes bottle, the quartet is wearing space helmets for a truly out-of-this-world look.
— Megan Poinski
Halo Top gives frozen fruit bars a sugar check
First it came to reformulate ice cream into a better-for-you treat. Now Wells Enterprises' Halo Top brand is making a leap into a new segment and whacking away at its calorie and sugar count with its new Fruit Pops.
Made with real fruit and fruit juice, Halo Top's Fruit Pops are offered in five flavors: Strawberry, Coconut, Lime, Mango and Pineapple. Lime has the lightest profile, with 35 calories and 5 grams of sugar per pop. Coconut has the heaviest at 90 calories and 9 grams of sugar per serving.
All contain at least half the sugar of leading fruit bars, with the lightest checking in at 65% less sugar, according to Halo Top. The frozen treats are sweetened with a mix of fruit juice, sugar and stevia.
"At our core, Halo Top is here so fans can feel empowered to choose a treat that makes them feel good," Chelsea Parker, senior marketing manager for Halo Top, said in a press release. "We knew dessert lovers were craving more frozen fruit offerings, without the sugar overload, and these convenient new Fruit Pops do just that, in all five juicy, delicious flavors."
The Fruit Pops are sold in boxes of six at grocery stores nationwide, with a suggested retail price of $4.79.
Founded in 2011, Halo Top is best known for its low-calorie ice cream, which offers fewer calories and more protein per serving. But ever since its September 2019 acquisition by privately held Wells Enterprises — owner of the Blue Bunny ice cream brand — it has revamped its product lineup. In January 2020, it debuted keto diet-friendly, low-carb ice cream. In May, it upsized its Halo Top Pops. And in August, the frozen treat company reformulated its vegan varieties to be softer and creamier with fava beans, a relatively new plant-based protein in the frozen dessert space.
Fruit-based freezer pops, an entirely new segment for Halo Top, continue that revamp journey. Competition there includes The Jel Sert Company, which offers 100% fruit juice Otter Pops; J&J Snack Foods' Whole Fruit organic juice pops, and Nestlé's non-GMO, organic Outshine fruit pops.
With three in five consumers interested in cutting back on sugar, according to an Innova Market Insights survey, tackling the sweetener is a good hook to differentiate Halo Pop's Fruit Pops in the freezer aisle. And whereas calories and protein content get play on Halo Top's ice cream treats, Fruit Pops' packaging focuses on the sugar content. Regardless of the metric, the brand is aiming to give consumers a convenient way to keep track of their indulgences while still enjoying their dessert.
— Samantha Oller