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.
Tell me that you want, that you really, really want … Pumpkin Spice Spam
This time, it’s not a joke.
Spam owner Hormel Foods first pitched the idea of Pumpkin Spice Spam two years ago, only to confess later the idea was a hoax. But not this time, the company promises. With fall just around the corner, Hormel will start selling a limited edition of Pumpkin Spice Spam at Walmart.com and Spam.com on Sept. 23.
“Pumpkin Spice season has delighted consumers for years now,” Jason Hron, Spam brand manager at Hormel Foods, said in an email. “True to the brand’s roots, Spam Pumpkin Spice combines deliciousness with creativity, allowing the latest variety to be incorporated into a number of dishes, from on-trend brunch recipes to an easy, pick me-up snack.”
Spam, which got its iconic name from the brother of a Hormel Foods vice president who won a $100 naming contest, traces its origins back to 1937 during the height of the Great Depression, where it was praised as a "miracle meat" in a can.
The product, the brunt of ridicule by British comedy troupe Monty Python, has managed to stand the test of time — and even thrive — amid a rapid consumer shift away from heavily processed foods in favor of fresher, better-for-you fare. An estimated 12.8 cans of Spam are consumed every second around the world, according to Hormel.
It’s a logical move for Spam to pair itself with pumpkin spice. While the popular fall flavor has been around for years, its popularity endures. Starbucks is reportedly reintroducing its pumpkin spice latte on Aug. 27 despite the U.S. still being in the middle of summer — the coffee chain’s earliest release ever.
The pumpkin explosion has seemingly infiltrated everything — from beer to Oreo cookies to Jell-O, to pizza crusts, and even pumpkin-spiced pumpkin seeds. It was only a matter of time before the much beloved but often ridiculed Spam would fall in line.
— Christopher Doering
Jet-Puffed and magically delicious
For those who love the marshmallows in breakfast cereal, the new launch from Lucky Charms just might be the best thing ever.
The magically delicious green shamrocks, pink hearts, yellow stars and blue moons that sweeten up cereal bowls are all puffed up — as in real marshmallows — and selling by the bag. These vanilla-flavored marshmallows are produced through a collaboration with Kraft Heinz’s Jet-Puffed brand and will be available on grocery shelves next month.
Consumers love marshmallows in their cereal, and cereal marshmallows are practically synonymous with Lucky Charms. When the General Mills brand was launched in 1964, it was the first cereal with marshmallows.
The marshmallows have been a hit with consumers ever since. In fact, General Mills has made all-marshmallow boxes of Lucky Charms three times. In 2015, the company gave away 10 special boxes as prizes for an Instagram contest. In 2017, General Mills had 10,000 marshmallow-only boxes that were given to consumers who had a special code on their Lucky Charms boxes. A similar promotion, with 15,000 boxes of just unicorn and rainbow marshmallows, happened earlier this year.
These new marshmallows are a little different, though. They’re actual marshmallows, not the crunchy sweet treats in cereal. They also have no special taste, so the only difference between these and Jet-Puffed’s round and white marshmallows is in the appearance.
It is worth noting that cereal and soft marshmallows are really similar. Cereal marshmallows (which were initially inspired by chewy orange Circus Peanuts candy) are dehydrated to give them a longer shelf life and a more concentrated taste. Some have compared the dehydrated cereal marshmallows to candy.
So what’s the purpose of these big, colorful and puffy marshmallows?
The answer isn’t quite clear. They would probably look like a mess if they are toasted or melted for a recipe, and they’re too big for brightening up a mug of hot chocolate. They could make a good stand-alone snack or just a colorful addition to a kitchen.
Even if there aren’t many ways to use the magically delicious marshmallows, this product has a wide release, so consumers who want a bag full of colorful marshmallows don’t have to be lucky.
— Megan Poinski
(A lot) Stronger Seltzer
Pabst Blue Ribbon is capitalizing on the spiked seltzer trend with an extra boozy version.
The brewing company announced the release of its first spiked seltzer drink this week. It's aptly named Stronger Seltzer and has a 8% ABV. The drink is lime flavored and sweetened with stevia. It's being test launched in California, Arizona, Texas and Montana, Delish reported.
As the beer category has lagged in recent years with struggling sales and shifting consumer demands, seltzer could be a smart bet for PBR. Younger consumers have little loyalty to brands and have expressed interest in lighter beverages. The hard seltzer category has benefited from that shift and is expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2021 — which would mean a 66% annual growth rate and a rise in consumption from 14 million cases last year to 72 million by 2021, according to UBS data.
PBR will have a lot of competition in this category though. But the company seems to be betting that its alcohol level will make it stand out. Truly hard seltzer and White Claw are both 5% ABV, while Bon & Viv has spiked seltzer that's 4.5% ABV. And AB InBev just announced the launch of its Natural Light Seltzer with 6% ABV in an effort to draw in college-age fans of the party staple.
But PBR’s new strong seltzer could get knocked out of the water by another expected launch. Four Loko recently teased the potential debut of a 14% ABV hard seltzer on Twitter. The company tweeted “hard seltzer ran so we could fly,” but hasn’t released any additional information about the product. This even stronger seltzer could be a threat to PBR’s new drink.
PBR has been expanding its portfolio to test out more trendy beverages in recent months. The company debuted higher-strength, lower-calorie and non-alcoholic versions of its PBR and plans to launch a whiskey soon. PBR also recently started market testing a 5% ABV hard coffee made from fermented malted barley and coffee.
— Lillianna Byington