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.
Oreo’s new cookie puts on the Ritz
Since the brand’s beginnings in 1912, Oreo cookies have taken on a vast array of flavors. A 2019 Medium post tallied 85 varieties — and there have been plenty of others hitting stores in the past three years.
But there’s one flavor Oreo hasn’t adopted until now: Ritz crackers. Mondelēz International, which owns both brands, created an extremely limited RitzxOreo mashup sandwich cookie. The cookie is one half Oreo — with the dark chocolate cookie and signature creme filling — and one half Ritz Peanut Butter Sandwich — with the buttery cracker and savory peanut butter.
“At OREO, we are constantly exploring playful ways to excite our fans, from innovative limited-edition flavors to unexpected collaborations,” OREO Senior Brand Manager Sydney Kranzmann said in a written statement. “This RITZxOREO product marks our first product collaboration with our friends at RITZ and we can’t wait to hear what OREO superfans think about this new take on the classic combination of chocolate and peanut butter!”
The literal mashup was available online as a limited offer yesterday — and was free except for shipping costs. The cookie quickly "sold out."
While this pairing is unconventional, it’s surprising it hasn’t been done before. Mondelēz International has been keen to experiment with the brands over the years. While Oreos have adopted a wide array of flavors, Ritz has recently become a cheesy chip, a Cadbury chocolate bar and an ice cream flavor.
Other snack makers have mixed and matched parts of their portfolios to create something new. Last summer, Lay’s created Flavor Swap chips, which brought the flavorings of Cool Ranch Doritos and Funyuns to potato chips. And Utz just launched a line of potato chips flavored with the orange cheesy powder from the plastic-jar favorite Utz Cheese Balls.
And while rave reviews of RitzxOreo are hard to find (“Today” show tasters Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager couldn’t eat more than one bite, saying it was “too much”), the buzz the mashup created and the sheer popularity of both Ritz and Oreos may actually bring this to grocery store shelves in the future. After all, that happened for the less expected mashup of Van Leeuwen Kraft Macaroni & Cheese ice cream.
— Megan Poinski
Driscoll’s heads to the tropics for latest ‘high-flavor’ strawberry
Tropical flavors seem at home in a frozen cocktail, but Driscoll’s is betting that consumers will appreciate them in fruit with the newest addition to its “high-flavor” line of strawberries.
Tropical Bliss strawberries are complemented with the flavors of tropical punch, pineapple and passionfruit. The naturally white and yellow berries “are perfectly ripe and intensely sweet at first, balanced by a refreshing finish,” according to a press release.
The new variety joins two other high-flavor strawberries first introduced as limited-edition offers in 2019. Rosé strawberries have a light-pink hue like the wine and notes of floral, peach and pink lemonade. The extra-juicy, extra-sweet Sweetest Batch variety has the flavors of strawberry candy and fruit punch, according to the company.
Driscoll’s said it developed the proprietary berries over years through traditional breeding methods, and without the use of GMOs. With the three varieties, it aims to provide a full sensory spectrum of the strawberry that plays with taste, texture, flavor, aroma and mouthfeel.
The berry giant has been rethinking the traditional approach to growing produce in recent years. Beyond operating a large R&D center dedicated to developing new berry varieties, Driscoll’s has also invested in and partnered with controlled environment agriculture startup Plenty. Most recently, the two are building an indoor farm that will supply strawberries to Northeastern markets.
This pursuit of the better berry is a race that Driscoll’s, which was founded in 1944, cannot afford to lose. Within the CEA space, players such as Bowery Farming and Oishii have focused on applying their technological knowhow to elevate strawberries, a infamously difficult, high-labor crop to grow through traditional means.
Approaching strawberries as a base for other food flavors, however, seems like it could be a winning way to keep Driscoll’s relevant. And it’s a tactic already being applied elsewhere in the produce aisle. Grapery offers Cotton Candy and Gum Drop varietals of table grapes. The company credits “innovative farming techniques combined with all-natural breeding practices” for the unique flavors.
— Samantha Oller
Swiss Miss mixes it up with Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Ever since General Mills launched Cinnamon Toast Crunch in 1984, the cereal and its cinnamon-sugar flavor have made their way into a host of other treats. The brand has appeared in doughnut holes, ice cream and coffee creamer. General Mills launched Cinnadust with B&G Foods in 2020 as a seasoning that can be sprinkled on dessert offerings. And this year, the company added Cinnamon Toast Crunch to its Betty Crocker baking mix to create a line of products like cake and cookie mixes.
Now, General Mills has partnered with Conagra’s Swiss Miss to announce Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnamilk, which brings the flavor of the popular cereal into a new hot drink mix. Each package comes with six packets of the drink mix and six packets of marshmallows and Cinnadust, which combine in hot water to create the beverage. It will be available at grocery stores starting in June for a suggested retail price of $2.99.
"We know the Cinnamilk left at the bottom of a cereal bowl is one of our fans' favorite parts about the product," Astrid Perez Martin, the senior brand manager for Cinnamon Toast Crunch, said in a press release. "This is why we're delighted to partner with Swiss Miss to create a delicious new beverage that gives our fans a unique way to experience the unmistakable Cinnadust flavored milk during new parts of their day."
As CPGs have experimented with bringing recognizable brands into new occasions, Cinnamon Toast Crunch has stood to benefit, with General Mills turning to collaborators to bring it into new products. It has proven to be very adaptable, with its sweet, cinnamon flavor widely applicable to a range of desserts and other sweet offerings.
This is also not the first time Swiss Miss is drawing on a General Mills cereal for a new drink flavor. In 2020, the Conagra brand debuted its first co-branded innovation for Swiss Miss when it launched a Lucky Charms flavored drink, complete with the cereal’s signature marshmallows.
— Chris Casey