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.
Just for kicks: A Rockettes-inspired holiday cookie
Let's get this much out first: Yes, it's out just before Halloween. But no, it's not a "sexy" cookie costume that's appropriate for high kicks.
These new Toy Soldier cookies from Pepperidge Farm are inspired by the Rockettes’ iconic “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” routine in the annual Christmas Spectacular, performed each year at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall since 1933. The cookies are spiced cinnamon and brown sugar shortbread and feature a raised image of a saluting toy soldier. They are available at grocery stores nationwide, and come with a ticket offer for some performances of the holiday show.
With toy soldiers playing a central role in several holiday shows — also including "The Nutcracker" and "Babes in Toyland" — it’s surprising that no other manufacturers mass-produce a holiday cookie featuring this character. It makes sense for the Campbell Soup-owned brand to pair this new cookie with the Rockettes' show. After all, about 80 million people have seen the Christmas Spectacular since it was first staged 86 years ago, according to the Rockettes' website.
The cookie is also tailor-made for holiday decorating, something Campbell Soup points out in the press release announcing the new treat. In fact, Janda Lukin, the company’s chief marketing officer, said one in five shoppers buys cookies at the store during the holidays and decorates them at home. This design seems ready for sprinkles, frosting and candies.
But for those consumers who are not willing to even think of the holidays two months before Christmas, these cookies are a good launch. The design features something that speaks to the holidays, but nothing that is overly and exclusively holiday focused. A snowman, Santa Claus, menorah or Christmas tree might be more directly associated with the year-end celebrations, but it’s unlikely many consumers would be interested in buying those before Thanksgiving.
— Megan Poinski
Fresh Cravings dips into dairy-free snacking
For much of its history, FoodStory Brands has focused on tapping into market niches underdeveloped by big food companies.
The latest product for the five-year-old maker of premium cocktail mixers and Fresh Cravings refrigerated salsas is a new line of dairy-free dips made from almonds and cashews.
The offerings, which contain nut-based protein and superfoods such as coconut aminos, chia and hemp, are preservative-, soy-, and gluten-free — checking off a lengthy list of product attributes important to today’s consumer. The dips are being sold at Walmart and Publix.
"Plant-based foods are not a trend, it's a shift in consumer preference and is moving to become a lasting part of the American culinary lifestyle,” Jay Whitney, FoodStory Brands’ president, said in a statement. “This launch positions us as a significant player in the growing plant-based food space."
Each product can be paired with fresh vegetables, fruit, plantain or pita chips and crackers, FoodStory said. In addition to the ultra-popular trend of snacking, the dips can be used to complement recipes such as a vegan fettuccine alfredo or sweet potato gratin.
A growing number of companies are latching on to nuts for new products due to their health halo, the jump in snacking among consumers and the desire for tasty and convenient protein sources.
Last summer, Chobani unveiled its latest yogurt variety by pairing its low-fat Greek yogurt with nut butters to create a nutrient-intense and energy-rich snack. And in 2018, RXBAR introduced a nut butter spread lineup, the company’s first product expansion since it was acquired by Kellogg for $600 million in 2017.
While FoodStory Brands could have meaningful competition this time around from the countless other companies dipping into nut or dairy-free products, widespread consumer demand for these items could enable several food manufacturers to benefit.
— Christopher Doering
Can't egg-nore this holiday cheer
The food and beverage industry is moving faster than the seasons.
Before October is even over, companies are moving past Halloween and onto flavors associated with Christmas. Borden Dairy announced this week the launch of a limited-edition Gingerbread Eggnog. The company is also relaunching its Classic Eggnog flavor. Both Borden’s Classic Eggnog and Gingerbread Eggnog are available at major retailers in the Southeast and Ohio through Dec. 31.
“Move over pumpkin spice — Gingerbread Eggnog is about to be the new autumn ‘it’ beverage,” Borden said in a release.
Eggnog is a signature seasonal flavor for the winter months, which could help with this new product launch. Borden said in the release that English aristocrats originally mixed surplus eggs and milk with brandy or sherry. Now the eggy brew is a tradition in the U.S. during the holiday season. It has stayed trendy through the years. In fact, eggnog was so popular in 2016 that many dairies saw a shortage.
Borden has been embracing innovation and unique dairy flavors as a tactic to draw in consumers. For the State Fair of Texas this year, the Dallas-based dairy company created three new limited-edition milk flavors: Banana Taffy, Blueberry Cobbler and Cotton Candy. Similar to how cereal companies are turning to wacky flavors to revive its category, these wild variations could help Borden in the the struggling dairy sector.
For decades, milk consumption has been dropping and the rise of plant-based options have pulled away consumers, leaving large companies like Borden and Dean Foods behind. In 1991, Borden posted $7.2 billion in sales with a presence in every state. Now its revenue is at $1.2 billion and its reach spans 13 states.
This latest product innovation could attract the attention of consumers and play out well for brand awareness if it turns out to be all it’s cracked up to be.
"We think between the innovation, the service, that we can regain that footing and be the undisputed leader in this industry again," CEO Tony Sarsam, who has been working to rejuvenate the company since taking over in 2018, told Food Dive earlier this year. "Those missteps of the recent past can be turned around."
— Lillianna Byington