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.
Cece's brings consumers oodles of veggie noodles
From bricks of dried noodles that feed broke college students to steaming bowls of rich broth and thin noodles at popular restaurants, ramen is in.
Cece’s Veggie Co. has figured out a way to make it even more trendy: Swap zucchini for the traditional wheat flour noodles and package it as a ready-to-eat soup complete with traditional broth and gently boiled eggs.
The company that made its name with veggie noodle dishes now sells two varieties of Fresh Veggie Ramen at Whole Foods and regional stores across the nation. One is made with chicken broth and has an egg, courtesy of Peckish. One is vegan, made with shiitake mushroom broth, and featuring butternut squash, carrots and cauliflower.
"Top Ramen got me through college, so I wondered if we could make a grown-up version that's healthy and still delicious," founder Mason Arnold, who bills himself as “Veggie Nerd” on the company’s website, said in a release.
Ramen is a traditional Asian noodle dish, which many say was invented in China but perfected in Japan. The familiar brick-like instant variety was created in Japan in 1958 and came to the United States in 1971. Convenience meals were never the same.
In the United States, ramen became more of a grown-up meal and less of a food made in a dorm microwave when David Chang opened Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York in 2004. And as it became an American culinary standard, the veggie version became inevitable.
Cece's Veggie Co. was one of the first to turn squash, beets and potatoes into noodle dishes. Other big companies, including Del Monte and Green Giant, also have gotten into the space. But few brands have ready-to-eat veggie noodle meals put together in a single package. Cece's new product makes the veggie ramen just as easy to prepare as its dried noodle counterpart.
But the product also has significant health benefits. After all, according to a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 1 in 10 adults eats enough fruit and vegetables. Fresh Veggie Ramen sounds tasty, meaning consumers may be more likely to pick this up than other noodle dishes. And putting the veggie noodles in a broth eliminates one of the most common consumer complaints about them: nobody will care if they make soup soggy.
— Megan Poinski
Chobani launches yogurt, campaign for U.S. farmers
With dairy farmers struggling amid a glut of supply and growing competition from plant-based options, Greek yogurt giant Chobani is rolling out a new variety to help.
Chobani is launching its second limited-edition charity flavor called Farmer Batch, a milk and cookies variety. The New York yogurt maker said 10 cents from every four-pack purchased will be donated to American Farmland Trust, a non-profit that protects farmland and promotes sound farming practices. The money collected will go toward grants of up to $10,000 to help farmers transfer or protect their land, strengthen their businesses, or develop climate plans, Chobani said in a statement.
"Dairy farms are critical parts of the economy and landscape in communities across America, but dairy farm families are facing tremendous change due to a weak dairy economy, disruptions from severe weather and an aging farming population," said David Haight, American Farmland Trust’s vice president of programs.
Chobani produced a special yogurt to honor veterans in 2018. The variety, called "Hero Batch, Red, White and Blueberry" was designed by veterans working at Chobani.
Peter McGuinness, Chobani’s president, told Food Dive last month that the yogurt maker wants to become "tomorrow’s food company." In order to do that, he said Chobani not only needs to produce good food, but “do right” by the consumer and the environment.
"That does not exist to scale," McGuinness said, noting there are small startups that have incredible missions and visions but never scale. Big manufacturers, he said, "don’t have a heart. They don't have a soul."
Honoring individuals like farmers or military veterans with limited-time offerings is popular with food and beverage companies.
Fritos partnered with nonprofit group Carry the Load to create 22 million specialty bags — one for every person ever to serve in the U.S. military — honoring the nation’s heroes around Memorial Day. The PepsiCo-owned snack brand also said it would donate $100,000 to the group to support members of the military, veterans, first responders and their families. And last year, Budweiser launched a new beer, Freedom Reserve Red Lager, that was made by veterans with a portion of the proceeds donated to a nonprofit that gives educational scholarships to military families.
To be sure, Chobani depends on a reliable supply of milk to produce its yogurts, so it makes sense for the company to throw its weight behind a strong, vibrant industry. However, it promises to be a challenge to revive a once-thriving sector.
Milk consumption has been declining for decades and plant-based options have siphoned away consumers who once turned to the popular beverage. Shoppers also have far more choices than ever before to quench their thirst with a proliferation of beverage options including bottled water, sports drinks, energy drinks and teas.
Have your cake and drink it too
Baileys latest product launch will target alcohol drinkers with a sweet tooth.
Diageo’s Baileys is partnering with Washington, D.C.-based Georgetown Cupcake to launch a limited-edition batch of Baileys Red Velvet. The beverage is now available across the country for a suggested retail price of $23.99.
According to a release, the new drink comes with "aromas of freshly baked red velvet cupcakes, sweet cream, and buttery icing" and tastes like "fresh chocolate cake, topped with a dollop of cream cheese frosting and just a hint of cocoa powder."
This sweet flavor fits in well with the other dessert-like flavors in its portfolio, including Strawberries & Cream, Salted Caramel and Chocolate Cherry. Baileys also is currently offering another limited-edition flavor, Baileys Pumpkin Spice.
Red velvet is the No. 1 selling flavor at Georgetown Cupcake, so it could attract consumers with such a popular flavor. But there are already some brands who are bringing red velvet to alcohol bottles so Baileys will have some competition. Cupcake Vineyards has offered a red velvet wine flavor for years.
"Red Velvet is not only our original cupcake flavor, but to this day it's chosen by our customers nearly ten to one, so we're so delighted to be able to give fans a whole new way to indulge,” Georgetown Cupcake founders and sisters Katherine Berman and Sophie LaMontagne said in a release.
In addition to the bottles hitting shelves this week, Georgetown Cupcake will also be selling non-alcoholic Baileys Red Velvet cupcakes infused with the flavor of Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur at all its locations and online in November and December. That exposure could help Baileys brand awareness.
Baileys has done more partnerships recently and could be looking to expand its reach through these product launches. Earlier this year, Kraft Heinz partnered with Baileys on a coffee line, including non-alcoholic RTD cold brew, ground coffee and K-Cup pods. And last year, Diageo worked with Clabber Girl to debut Baileys Original Irish Cream baking chips.
In 2015, Diageo said it planned to bring a lot of innovation to the company during the next five years. The company seems to be delivering on the promise with its Baileys brand by launching a variety of products and partnerships.