Our annual roundup of the best retail product launches of the past year offers an assortment of winners from all parts of the aisles.
By PG Editors
It's that time again, when Progressive Grocer's seasoned editors, aided by a contingent of eager tasters at our Jersey City, N.J., office–otherwise known as New Product Central–get to sample a broad selection of the cream of the retail product crop.
But despite all of the fun we had road-testing so many great items, the process of narrowing down the final winners was no easy task, given the careful deliberation we applied to the many varied entries that came our way.
As always, not all products made the cut, but for the choice ones that did, a few noteworthy trends among recently released products readily emerged.
Better-for-you foods, including those targeting such specialized demographics as gluten-free, are now more mainstream than ever, with their healthy halo not all displaced by an implicit (and most welcome) tendency toward indulgence. Indeed, healthier foods that taste far better than their trailblazing predecessors are more frequently landing in the shopping carts of many customers now buying them for their sheer scrumptiousness rather than their nutritional content.
Another notable trend is toward innovative, highly functional–in some cases, multifunctional–packaging. In the produce sector alone, we encountered bite-size tomatoes that could be rinsed in their snack pack; a twin-pack of microwavable artichokes that could be preseasoned and steamed right in the bag; table grapes in a streamlined colander bag designed for easier carrying, display and storage; and breathable packaging that helps keep fresh blueberries tasting great.
Among other categories, we saw proprietary cigar packaging that eliminates the need for a humidor, opening up big selling opportunities for supermarkets, and a heat-and-eat line of deli meals in both modified-atmosphere and vacuum skin packaging to retain freshness and quality.
The deli meals in particular exemplified yet another big trend: convenience, which is still king, but with the growing recognition that shoppers want to put their own stamp on things. To that end, products we sampled included an ingenious cake mix with frosting and even a disposable pan, so home bakers can whip up a sweet treat with ease, and ready-to-eat hard-cooked and peeled eggs that purchasers can use to prepare nearly homemade deviled eggs, egg salads and the like.
With that, we extend sincere congrats to our most recent group of new product winners and invite you, our readers, to dig into the latest iteration of our smorgasbord of Editors' Picks.
320 Main Street Hoagies and Burritos
SRPs: $3.99 each (hoagies);
$2.99 each (burritos) www.320foodsystems.com
The 320 Main Street Burrito line from Fort Collins, Colo.-based Fast Food Systems consists of three breakfast burritos: Beef and Green Chili, Chicken and Green Chili, and American with ham, sausage, bacon and potato in country gravy. The hoagie line features seven 8-inch varieties: Italian Sausage; Cajun Chicken BBQ; Pulled Pork BBQ; Italian with Ham, Capicola, Salami and Provolone; Smoked Turkey and Provolone; Pizza Steak; and Meatball. All products come frozen and can be sold frozen, thawed or in a hot box.
Almondina Milk Chocolate Delights and Yogurt Dipped BranTreats
SRP: $4.99 (both) www.almondina.com
It might be difficult to improve upon the original Almondina, offered by Maumee, Ohio-based YZ Enterprises., but it's been done, and quite exquisitely at that, by smothering the irresistible cookie, with its yummy roasted almonds and sweet raisins, in rich premium milk chocolate. Additionally, a delicious take on Grandma Dina's Almondinas is the new healthful BranTreat breakfast cookie line featuring tasty, tangy cinnamon and a smooth, sweet yogurt coating. In both instances, these crispy, crunchy, all-natural cookies truly hit the sweet spot for great taste and guilt-free indulgence.
SRP: $3.99 www.alouettecheese.com
These 100 percent all-natural, 40-calorie-per-serving portions of America's favorite spreadable cheese, New Holland, Pa.-based Alouette, provide consumers (and hungry PG tasters) with a convenient and tasty snacking option. The product comes in two flavors: Original and Italian Herbs.
Amy's Light & Lean Pizzas
SRP: $4.29 www.amyskitchen.com
Petaluma, Calif.-based Amy's now offers two pizzas as part of its lower-calorie and -fat Light & Lean line, each containing half the fat of the company's original product versions. Italian Vegetable Pizza and Cheese Pizza each have fewer than 300 calories and just 6 grams of fat per 8-ounce single-serve size.
Andros Fruit Me Up Real 100% Fruit Sauces
SRPs: $3.69 (4-pack);
$1.29 (4-ounce pouch)
www.andros.com.fr Andros Foods USA Inc., the Harrison, N.Y.-based subsidiary of a French fruit processor, offers pure applesauce and three exciting blends, all with a healthy twist. Containing only fruit puree and vitamin C, the all-natural, U.S.-made product offers one serving of fruit in each 4-ounce pouch. The available varieties are Apple, Apple Strawberry Banana, Apple Mango Pineapple, and Apple Peach Apricot.
Annie's Homegrown Organic Rising Crust Pizza
SRP: $9.99 www.annies.com
Crafted from whole grains, real cheeses, and organic meats and vegetables, these family-sized rising-crust pizzas from Berkeley, Calif.-based Annie's represent a departure for natural pizzas, most of which are single-serve vegetarian items of the thin-crust or flatbread type. By contrast, Annie's offers the hearty meat options of Uncured Pepperoni and Supreme, along with popular varieties Four Cheese and Spinach & Mushroom.
ArtiSun Farms Redi Bites
SRP: $3.99 www.eurofresh.com
These addictive grape-sized tomatoes from Willcox, Ariz.-based Eurofresh are perfect for a quick snack on the run or as a sweet accompaniment to a mealtime salad. The cute yet functional clamshell packaging is designed to allow for rinsing in the container, so snackers can pop one morsel at a time straight from the resealable opening if they wish.
Bakery On Main Truebar
SRP: $1.99 www.bakeryonmain.com
Gluten-free never tasted so good. This fruit-and-nut bar from East Hartford, Conn.-based Bakery On Main is billed as having "nothing to hide," and clear packaging certainly reinforces that all-natural message. Available in six flavors, including Hazelnut Chocolate Cherry, Walnut Cappuccino, Coconut Cashew and Apricot Almond Chai, the dense, chewy bars are bound to appeal not only to those with gluten intolerance, but also athletes in need of energy and people who just appreciate a delicious on-the-go snack. Additionally, Truebars are Non-GMO Project Verified, kosher, dairy- and casein-free, low in sodium, and a good source of fiber and omega-3, as well as containing no trans fats or cholesterol.
Barista Baking Co. Break & Bake Scones
SRP: $2.49 www.championfoods.com
Champion Foods' new line of Break & Bake scone dough, under the New Boston, Mich.-based company's upscale Barista Baking Co. brand, brings the local bakery to the home kitchen. Available in three flavors–Almond, Blueberry and Chocolate Chip–the oven-ready dough yields eight scones per package that bake up quickly, easily and tastily in home ovens in a matter of minutes.
Beemster 10-Month Aged Goat Cheese
SRP: $15-$20 per pound www.beemster.us Yes, it's a bit on the pricey side, but one taste and you'll know why PG's tasters flipped for this firm-bodied, full-flavored 10-month-aged goat cheese from the Beemster co-op in north Holland (the company's U.S. presence is coincidentally in this publication's hometown of Jersey City, N.J.). Offering a rich, long-lasting flavor packed with floral and grassy tones, and a unique texture, this cheese is ideal for grating over salads or pasta, and pairs well with dark breads, avocados and walnuts.
Benedetto Pinot Grigio
SRP: $11.99 www.gkskaggs.com
Fruit flavors of pear and apple with hints of melon and mineral make this light- to medium-bodied, dry, crisp and fresh wine imported by Irvine, Calif.-based G.K. Skaggs Inc. perfectly suited to poultry, fish, appetizers, aperitifs and other light fare. Hailing from Veneto, Italy, Benedetto Pinot Grigio offers a delicate complexity and elegance, merging the well-known qualities of the popular grape variety with just a touch of sweetness.
Benelact Reduced Cholesterol Cheeses and Butter
SRPs: $3.99 (butter);
$3.29-$3.49 (7-ounce cheese shreds or slices);
$2.99-$3.39 (8-ounce cheese blocks);
$5.35-$5.75 (16-ounce cheese blocks);
$6.49-$6.99 (5-pound blocks) www.benelact.com
For those looking to reduce their cholesterol intake without giving up the great taste of real cheese and butter, Sturtevant, Wis.-based Benelact Dairy has come to the rescue. Benelact's reduced-cholesterol butter and cheeses offer the same taste and functionality as traditional products, but with a third less cholesterol. Made using patented technology that removes cholesterol mechanically during processing, the products are all natural with a clean label, and they're priced competitively with traditional items. Cheeses are offered in multiple sizes and formats, in Cheddar, Colby Jack, Mozzarella and Provolone varieties.
Blake's Upside Down Chicken and Waffle Pie
SRP: $5.99 www.blakesallnatural.com
Concord, N.H.-based Blake's All Natural Foods has put its own spin on this classic southern meal. Each "pie" is made by hand in small batches with hand-pulled white-meat chicken, mashed sweet and russet potatoes, gravy, and a hint of real Vermont maple syrup, all topped with an organic waffle. You bake the item, flip it over onto your plate and enjoy. It's a tasty change of pace from run-of-the-mill pot pies, and the express instructions shorten cooking time without impairing flavor.
Blimpie Best Sub Sandwich Kit
SRP: $6.25 www.landofrost.com
Since almost 60 percent of consumers make sandwiches at home during tough economic times, family-owned packaged lunchmeat company Land O'Frost, based in Lansing, Ill., embraced this consumer trend and created a national partnership with Blimpie to offer the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based sub shop chain's signature meats in its popular Sub Sandwich Kits for consumers. The kits offer the four signature meats of Blimpie's most famous sandwich, Blimpie Best. Each kit contains Prosciutto Cotto Ham, Smoked Ham, Capicola Ham and Salami interleaved with parchment paper for ease of separation and portion control, and enough meat for six sandwiches. Additionally, the product is gluten-free and offers 14 grams of protein per serving.
Blu eCigs Disposable Electronic Cigarettes
SRP: $9.99 www.blucigs.com
Blu eCigs give users the look and feel of traditional cigarettes with a water vapor "puff" instead of smoke and ash. Blu eCigs are available in convenient disposables or rechargeable packs for regular use, with or without nicotine and in a variety of flavors. Each combines the battery, atomizer and cartridge in one single piece, and the Charlotte, N.C.-based company's signature blue LED tip glows with each puff. Designed with a single hole for maximized draw and resistance, the mouthpiece is engineered to prevent leakage. Blu eCigs offers two flavors: Magnificent Menthol provides a surge of minty flavor, but for rich, full-flavored tobacco taste, Classic is ideal. Each eCig is equal to 400 puffs or about 1½ packs of cigarettes.
BonSavor Whole Wheat Flour Naan
SRP: $3.49 www.bonsavorfoods.com
With ethnic cuisine catching on in a big way among mainstream consumers, Dallas-based BonSavor is on the right track with its line of whole wheat flatbreads inspired by a range of cultures. The company's authentically crafted, flame-baked naan (a type of flatbread hailing from India) is naturally low in fat; has no saturated fat or cholesterol and O grams of trans fat per serving; is high in vitamin B1 and a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B3, folate and calcium; and offers 37 grams of whole wheat per serving. Oh, and it tastes really good, too.
Brioni's Healthy Morning Coffee
SRP: $8.99 www.brionis.com
Prebiotic coffee? As long as it doesn't alter the product's taste (and in this case, it definitely doesn't), why not? Brioni's Healthy Morning Coffee is the first coffee to provide digestive health benefits while delivering the taste and aroma of true gourmet coffee, according to Glastonbury, Conn.-based Brioni Coffee Co. Each 12-ounce cup is a good source of fiber and a prebiotic, delivering 4 grams of dietary fiber, O grams of fat and cholesterol and just 35 calories. So, go ahead, enjoy that second cup.
Buff Lo Dip
SRP: $5 www.bufflodip.com
Buff Lo Dip from Londonderry, Ohio-based Dzalt Enterprises LLC is ideal not only as a dip for chips, chicken nuggets or tenders, and veggies, but also as a sauce for many different foods. It can be used on tacos, pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, subs, turkey sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, steamed or fried rice, chicken wraps, and grilled cheese, as well as in chili, soups and many other foods.
Califia Farms Cuties Juice and Almondmilk
SRP: N/A www.califiafarms.com
Those wildly popular Cuties seedless Clementinesare now available in juice form from Bakersfield, Calif.-based Califia Farms, which scored big with its tangerine juice blends. At 100 to 130 calories per serving, the all-natural juices have no added sugar and deliver two full servings of fruit, along with 150 percent RDV of vitamin C. The Clementine-mandarin, tangerine-orange-mango and tangerine-orange-pineapple blends come in "whimsical 8-ounce PET bottles designed for maximum kid appeal," as well as 12- and 48-ounce sizes. Califia also made a splash with its three varieties of Almondmilk, a great option for the lactose-intolerant or others avoiding dairy. The antioxidant-rich line is free of lactose, soy and gluten, and claims to deliver 50 percent more calcium than 1 percent dairy milk. Califia's Almondmilk comes in 48-ounce bottles, in Unsweetened, Creamy and Vanilla varieties.
Cedarlean Egg White Frittatas
SRP: $3.99 www.cedarlanefoods.com
As Carson, Calif.-based Cedarlane Foods aptly notes, there's nothing "lean" about the taste of its gluten-free frozen Cedarlean Egg White Frittata line, which is available in Broccoli & Cheddar, Roasted Chile & Cheese, and Spinach & Roasted Tomato varieties. Each all-natural frittata melds fluffy egg whites, fresh cheeses, chunky vegetables and a blend of spices in a scalloped potato crust. High in protein and fiber, and containing no more than 200 calories, the product line comes in packaging with a prominent "gluten-free" icon on the front, helping gluten-intolerant consumers find what they need quickly.
Celestial Seasonings Sweet Harvest Pumpkin Holiday Black Tea
SRP: $2.99 www.hain-celestial.com
This autumnal tea, available seasonally from Boulder, Colo.-based Celestial Seasonings, a division of The Hain Celestial Group in Melville, N.Y., creates its own warm glow. Featuring rich black tea, harvest-fresh pumpkin flavor and traditional spices such as cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, plus a hint of natural sweetness, the product made PG's resident sippers fall for fall all over again.
Chobani Champions Vanilla Chocolate Chunk Greek Yogurt
SRP: $1.29 www.chobani.com
Aiming to bring kids to the current big yogurt trend, Norwich, N.Y.-based Chobani's Champions is authentic strained Greek yogurt made with low-fat milk and real chocolate chunks. Each 3.5-ounce cup is chockfull of protein, calcium and vitamin D. It's a tasty and healthy alternative to other kids' snacks, and should be welcomed by parents looking for something different for kids' lunchboxes, after-school treats or the cooler for handing out following soccer games or other children's activities.
Clemmy's Ice Cream Bars
SRP: $4.29 www.clemmysicecream.com
These sugar-free, gluten-free and lactose-free ice cream bars from Rancho Mirage, Calif.-based Clemmy's are almost too good to be true. Especially sublime were Clemmy's Orange Crème Bars, featuring the citrusy tang of oranges swirled together with rich, creamy vanilla ice cream. All of the bars achieve their luscious taste by using superior, all-natural ingredients.
Country Time Lemonade Chewy Candy
SRP: $1.99 www.sorbee.com
Aiming to leverage some recent category growth, Trevose, Pa.-based Sorbee International LLC launched these chewy candies as a follow-up to its previous hard candy released under the iconic soft-drink brand name. Available in four flavors (Lemonade, Peach Lemonade, Raspberry Lemonade and Pink Lemonade), these refreshing chews capture their namesake's flavor profile–not too tart, not too sweet. Available in 7-ounce peg bags, the candies promise 150 calories per eight-piece serving.
Dancing Deer Baking Co. Whole Grain Cranberry Orange Cookies with White Chocolate Chips
SRP: $5.99 www.dancingdeer.com
These soft and chewy indulgences from Boston-based Dancing Deer Baking Co. went fast at the PG office–gone-within-the-hour fast! Sweet cranberries, orange and creamy white chocolate chips are crammed into every whole grain cookie. The scratch-baked, all-natural and kosher treats come eight to a package–although that won't seem like nearly enough.
Del Destino Tapenades
SRP: $1.99 www.atalanta1.com
Del Destino gourmet tapenades from Elizabeth, N.J.-based Atalanta Corp., available in such savory varieties as Piquillo & Jalapeno, Olive, Asparagus, and Artichoke, do multiple duty as dips, sandwich spreads, marinades, pasta flavorings and even salad dressing ingredients. A particular–and tasty–use one PG editor found for the product was as an impromptu "pizza" sauce on a whole wheat pita that was then heaped with veggies and melted cheese.
Disney Berry Quick Snacks
SRP: $2.99 www.naturipefarms.com
These ready-to-eat fresh blueberries from Salinas, Calif.-based Naturipe Farms feature a harvest-to-package system that lengthens the shelf life of the product for up to three weeks when properly refrigerated. The succulent berries are triple-inspected, triple-washed and placed in breathable packaging, resulting in a high-quality healthy snack that's perfect for Disney-loving kids of all ages to take along anywhere.
Dole Frozen Fruit Single-serve Cups
SRP: $2.49 (pack of two 3-ounce cups of strawberry or pineapple);
$2.79 (pack of two 3-ounce cups of blueberries) www.dole.com
Employing cutting-edge, patent-pending technology to minimize texture loss during the defrosting process for a just-like-fresh appearance, taste and mouthfeel, Frozen Fruit Single-serve Cups from Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole can be enjoyed as a healthy snack any time of the day. Besides being eaten on their own, they can be popped into smoothies, sprinkled on top of various dishes and incorporated into various recipes.
Dove Milk Chocolate Covered Raisins & Peanuts
SRP: $3.49 (5-ounce resealable pouch) www.mars.com
Lovers of peanuts, raisins and chocolate are sure to enjoy this combination of taste and textures in a bite-sized candy. These milk chocolate-enrobed treats from Hackettstown, N.J.-based Mars Chocolate North America are packaged in an eye-catching standup pouch with great shelf presence. As a "hand to mouth" candy, this new treat is part of the increasingly popular unwrapped-bite segment, which has expanded to $1.6 billion annually and emerged as a growth category for manufacturers and retailers alike.
Eat Well Enjoy Life Hummus
The creamy hummus made by Alpharetta, Ga.-based Tryst Gourmet/Eat Well Enjoy Life features various beans, making it easy for consumers to add more protein, fiber and healthy fat to their diets. The gluten- and cholesterol-free, kosher product line comes in three zesty flavors: Sweet & Spicy Black Bean, whose topping of spicy roasted corn, sweet pineapple and red-pepper relish offers complementary flavors; high-protein Spicy Red Lentil Chipotle, set off by a topping of milder poblano chili peppers and corn; and Wasabi Edamame, topped by black beans and pickled ginger, and offering just the right kick of wasabi backed with horseradish.
Eggland's Best Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs
SRP: $2.59 www.egglandsbest.com
No time to hard-cook eggs? Just reach for Eggland's Best's ready-to-eat Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs. Produced and selected from the Jeffersonville, Pa.-based company's Grade AA farm-fresh eggs, and delivering all of the same nutritional benefits with a large added serving of convenience, the item is a resealable pouch of six medium-sized hard-cooked and peeled eggs that contain 25 percent less saturated fat than ordinary eggs, and are an excellent source of vitamins D, B12 and E, and a good source of riboflavin–all for just 60 calories per egg.
Entenmann's Cake Pop Set
SRP: $19.99 www.durakleen.com
With cake pops all the rage, home bakers can easily replicate the charm and whimsy of the tasty single-serve treats with the Entenmann's brand bakeware product line from Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Euro-Ware. Suitable for making sweets on a stick for any celebration, the new bakeware line is affordably priced and ideal as a cross-merchandising candidate for your baking department.
Freshpet Select Roasted Meals for Cats/Dogs
SRPs: $4.29 (1-pound bag of cat food);
$10.99 (3-pound bag of dog food);
$6.49 (1.75-pound bag of dog food) www.freshpet.com
With its Select Roasted Meals, Secaucus, N.J.-based Freshpet offers consumers' four-legged companions tender chicken pieces accented with carrots and spinach for well-balanced meals pet parents can feel good about serving. The cat food marries the taste and texture of the wet food preferred by felines to the convenience of dry food.
Front Porch Ice Cream
SRP: $4.99 www.mooresvilleicecream.com
Just when it seems like we've seen or tasted just about every ice cream on the market, there comes a new 15-SKU line of Southern-inspired flavors from North Carolina-based Mooresville Ice Cream Co. Packed under the Front Porch brand, the line was a tremendous hit with our team, with the Nana's Banana Pudding, Lemony Sunshine, Peachy Keen and Blackberry Crumble varieties proving especially popular. The line features uniquely crafted flavors based on homespun recipes that will make you feel as though you're rocking on your own front porch on a summer night, no matter where you might be.
SRP: $1.99 www.gofrush.com
The Früsh line of refrigerated yogurt fruit shakes from Statesville, N.C.-based Origin Food Group LLC, available in four refreshing flavors–strawberry, blueberry, peach and strawberry banana–blends real fruit with creamy yogurt, resulting in a delicious on-the-go treat. Upping the ante with proprietary, health-enhancing ingredients that optimize bone health and probiotics to boost immunity and aid digestion, the line of functional beverages in 8.4-ounce bottles is perfectly positioned for convenience-seeking, nutritionally minded consumers.
Glutino Rosemary & Olive Oil Gluten Free Snack Crackers and Gluten Free Tortilla Dippers
SRPs: $3.49 www.glutino.com
Glutino Rosemary & Olive Oil Gluten-Free Snack Crackers, the unanimous favorite flavor of PG's tasters, makes for a satisfying gluten-free snack. The flavorful, all-natural crackers go great with soup or salad, but are equally fine on their own. Seasoned with a just touch of salt, the Laval, Quebec-based company's Gluten Free Tortilla Dippers–also all-natural–feature a sturdy scoop shell design that easily accommodates a large dollop of salsa or dip.
Gourmet Trading Co. Superblues Blueberries and Peeled White Asparagus
SRPs: $1.99( 5-ounce package of blueberries);
$3.49 (10-ounce package of blueberries); $4.99 (16-ounce package of blueberries);
$2.49 (9-ounce package of asparagus);
$3.49 (12-ounce package of asparagus),
$4.39 (1-pound package of asparagus);
$6.49 (1.5-pound package of asparagus) www.gourmettrading.net
Now available in new pack sizes providing lower price points, the appropriately named Superblues from Gourmet Trading Co. boast twice the size and crunch of their standard counterparts. Our PG tasters certainly found them firm, flavorful and filling, with the added bonus that they held up well to freezing. The Peeled White Asparagus, introduced to market by the Los Angeles-based company, comes in a bag proven to lower shrink. Pre-peeled for greater preparation convenience, the elegant side dish can be displayed in a two-piece shipper that can be assembled in minutes without a box cutter and features a moisture pad at the bottom of the tray to keep the asparagus fresh.
Goya Fiesta Baked Beans
SRP: $1.69 www.goya.com
Secaucus, N.J.-based Goya, the Latin foods leader, continues to expand into new avenues, as evidenced by its line of Fiesta Baked Beans. With more Latin-inspired flavors and recipes gaining mass appeal, coupled with data that finds more than half of all general-population American households consuming baked beans, grocers can't miss with Goya's Fiesta Baked Beans, whose robust flavor and Latin flair easily complements a variety of meals.
G.S. Caramel Sea Salt Gelato
SRP: $4.79 www.gsgelato.com
This luscious gelato from Fort Walton Beach, Fla.-based G.S. Gelato & Desserts Inc. seizes upon the sweet-and-salty trend, along with the popularity of sea salt as an ingredient. It features a deep, creamy texture with a rich taste reminiscent of a soft, warm caramel, plus a delicate touch of Mediterranean sea salt. The fusion of flavors is quite pleasant, making for a unique and delicious treat.
SRPs: 95 cents-$9.95 www.hammondscandies.com Denver-based Hammond's released several new products this year, but these in particular caught our editors' fancies. The individually wrapped Caramel Marshmallows offer soft, chewy, buttery goodness. Of the company's latest Pantry Classics dip flavors, designed for snacking and recipes, we were most taken with Cinnamon Bun. But Hammond's new line of chocolate bars really shows off the brand's decadent creativity. The editors were split on their favorites, but the Malted Milkshake, PB&J Sandwich, chocolate-and-raspberry Crackle Crunch, and chipotle-laced Sweet ‘N Spicy were definite standouts.
Hartz UltraGuard Pro Flea & Tick Treatment
SRP: $19.99 www.hartz.com
Providing effective and affordable flea and tick protection for 30 days at a fraction of the price of veterinarian-recommended products, Hartz UltraGuard Pro Flea & Tick Treatment for Dogs and Puppies starts killing our furry friends' tormentors within 15 minutes. The product from the Secaucus, N.J.-based Hartz Mountain Corp. includes the patented Pro-Glide applicator, which easily penetrates pet fur for application directly to dogs' skin.
Hawaiian Kettle Style Mango Habanero Chips
SRP: $2.99-$3.49 www.timschips.com
These new Mango Habanero chips come from Hawaiian Brand Snacks, made by Peoria, Ill.-based Tim's Cascade Snacks, part of the Pinnacle Foods Group. The crunchy chips feature a unique taste that combines the heat of habanero peppers with the sweetness of mangoes. There's just enough heat to give these chips some authority while not overpowering the overall spicy-sweet flavor.
SRPs: $1-$3.79 www.hersheys.com
Pennsylvania-based Hershey Co. supplied many sweet favorites among the PG crew. Hershey's Simple Pleasures Chocolates, boasting 30 percent less fat compared with average milk chocolates, deliver all of the deliciousness expected from a Hershey's product. Consisting of a smooth chocolate outside with a rich creme-filled center, Simple Pleasures come in three varieties and are individually wrapped for easy portion control in 24-count, 5.6-ounce pouches. Rolo Minis feature the classic combination of chewy caramel and milk chocolate of their full-size counterparts in a calorie-friendly size that make life sweeter for consumers who want to enjoy their chocolate without the guilt. Ice Breakers Duo Mints offer a tasty, refreshing lift with a "fruit+cool" flavor sensation. Combining a textured fruit-flavored side (available in raspberry and strawberry varieties) with a cooling, smooth side that features Ice Breakers Mints' signature flavor and cooling crystals, Duo Mints come in 1.3-ounce tins. With a crunchy candy shell and a soft, chewy center, Jolly Rancher Crunch 'N Chew combines the unmistakably bold fruit flavors of the original hard-candy version with a chewy texture. The result is a candy experience that satisfies both crunchy and chewy candy fans' respective sweet spots.
Hormel Cure 81 Ham Steaks, Natural Choice Chicken Sausages and Natural Choice Smoked Sausages
SRPs: $3.09-4.99 (ham steaks);
$4.99 (chicken sausages);
$5.99 (smoked sausages) www.hormel.com
Easy-to-prepare, fully cooked Cure 81 ham steaks satisfy PG tasters' need for a quick, single-serve weekday meal idea in a variety of flavors: Classic, Brown Sugar, Peppered and Honey Cured. As their name implies, Natural Choice chicken sausages have no preservatives or artificial ingredients, and grill up nicely in three cheese-studded varieties: Jalapeno Cheddar, Apple Gouda and Spinach Asiago. Also boasting no preservatives or artificial ingredients, Natural Choice smoked sausages feature a blend of spices that, along with the smoking process, result in a savory taste sensation. A particular standout is the Turkey variety, which provides a lighter alternative, having half the calories of, and 70 percent less fat than, the Original sausage.
IHOP at Home Syrups
SRP: $3.99-$4.29 (24 ounce);
$2.99-$3.19 (12 ounce) www.sorbee.com
The latest iconic brand to be brought to grocery store shelves by Trevose, Pa.-based Sorbee International LLC is IHOP–specifically, the syrup enjoyed for years by breakfast diners. The IHOP at Home line of retail breakfast syrups includes classic flavors such as Original, Lite and Sugar Free in 24-ounce bottles, and unique flavors like Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity Blueberry in 12-ounce bottles. It was really a no-brainer to put the IHOP brand in the retail channel, and these syrups live up to the name.
International Delight Coffee Beverage
SRP: $3.99 www.whitewave.com
Coffeehouse indulgence is now as close as the refrigerator with International Delight Iced Coffee, a sweet and creamy, ready-to-drink iced beverage made with 100 percent premium Arabica coffee and available in three luscious flavors: Vanilla, Mocha and Original. The generous half-gallon packaging was another plus. This gourmet-style thirst-quencher from Broomfield, Colo.-based WhiteWave Foods was particularly satisfying over ice on broiling Jersey City afternoons.
Ivy-Dry Super Continuous Spray
SRP: $10.99 www.ivydry.com
The first continuous spray for the treatment of poison ivy, Ivy-Dry is godsend for hikers, campers and others who enjoy outdoor activities. It can be easily applied to hard-to-reach areas of the body while keeping hands mess-free and lowering the chance of spreading infection or recontamination. PG's testers particularly loved the fact that users can spray at any angle–even upside-down–and the product requires less effort than traditional finger-pump sprays, according to Fairfield, N.J.-based Ivy-Dry Inc.
Kane Candy Chocolate Dessert Cups
SRP: $5.99-$7.99 www.kanecandy.com
Because they're as functional as they are pretty, we like these candy cups quite a choco-lot! A quick and easy dessert solution, Kane's Chocolate Party Cups, offered by Caledonia, Mich.-based Niche Gourmet, can be filled and topped with a limitless number of sweet possibilities. The line's five varieties include chocolate flowers, white and dark chocolate Tuxedo cups, chocolate cordial and toasting cups, chocolate heart cups, and large Kane Candy Chocolate Party cups. Great for parties of all kinds and sizes, these items lend a special, elegant touch to the dessert course.
Kellogg's Krave Cereal and Eggo Wafflers
SRP: $3.99 (Krave);
$2.99 (Wafflers) www.kellogg.com
Kellogg's Krave is aimed at teens, of whom 50 percent reportedly skip breakfast. The product features a sweet, crispy cereal shell exterior with a smooth real chocolate center, delivering an "intense chocolate experience," according to the iconic Battle Creek, Mich.-based company. A good source of fiber and made with whole grains, Krave is available in Chocolate and Double Chocolate. Eggo Wafflers are hand-held, tear-apart waffle bars–crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside–that are designed to be eaten right out of the toaster, no syrup required. They are available in Brown Sugar Cinnamon Roll and Strawberry Strudel flavors.
Kind Nuts & Spices
SRP: $1.99 (bar) www.kindsnacks.com
New York-based Kind Healthy Snacks offers this line of snack bars crafted from high-quality whole nuts and spices. The clean-label bars deliver indulgent recipes with all-natural protein, fiber and no more than 5 grams of sugar. The product line is available in four varieties–Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt, Madagascar Vanilla Almond, Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan and Cashew & Ginger Spice–that provide unique flavors in a great-tasting, better-for-you snack.
Klondike Shelf-stable Baby Potatoes
SRP: $1.99 www.potandon.com
Potandon Produce's Klondike Goldust Express joins Klondike Rose Express as part of the Idaho Falls, Idaho-based company's shelf-stable line of microwavable fresh potatoes. Klondike Express combines cutting-edge packaging technology with two market-proven potato varieties, enabling convenience-driven consumers to prepare 1 pound of whole fresh Klondike baby potatoes from pantry to plate in just six minutes. They're positioned as high-velocity impulse items that can be cross-merchandised as part of a meal solution display, or as a quick potato side-dish to complement outdoor grilling in summer. In addition, the Klondike Rose Express package has been updated with an enhanced nutritional panel on the front, highlighting the fact that fresh potatoes are fat- and sodium-free, and contain 18 percent of the recommended daily amount of potassium per serving and 45 percent of vitamin C.
Kraft Fresh Take
SRP: $1.99 www.kraft.com
Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft aims to simplify the process and ease the mess of preparing crusty baked poultry, pork and seafood dishes. Each refrigerated Fresh Take sectioned bag contains natural Kraft Cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs; you break the divider, mix the cheese and crumbs, coat your protein and bake. The bag is your bowl, so cleanup is minimal. It's an easy way for budding cooks to try something new, and veterans should like having fewer dishes to wash. Fresh Take comes in six varieties: Southwest Three Cheese, Rosemary & Roasted Garlic, Chile Lime & Panko, Cheddar Jack and Bacon, Italian Parmesan, and Savory Four Cheese.
Krave300 Disposable Electronic Cigarettes
SRP: $8.99-$11.99 www.vapor-corp.com
Krave Electronic Cigarettes from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Vapor Corp. offers a large selection of disposable e-cigs designed to stylishly fit any smoker's needs. Available in traditional tobacco or menthol flavors, the Krave300 disposable line also comes in an assortment of 10 other flavors merchandised in 10-unit point-of-purchase boxes. The Fruits Collection includes Sour Apple, Blueberry, Great Grape, Juicy Peach and Strawberry flavors, while the Sweets Collection offers Cappuccino, Chocolate, Red Wine, Spiced Rum and Very Vanilla flavors, among others. In addition, Krave300 e-cigs are available in a variety of colors and tattoo-inspired looks, all equipped with jewel-cut tips to really make them stand out. Users can enjoy 300 puffs without the second-hand smoke, flame, ash or odor of traditional cigarettes.
Larry the Cable Guy Smokin' Chips, Wraps and Firestarters
SRP: $5.99 (chips);
$8.99 (8-pack of firestarters, which are 98 cents apiece) www.tailgatingplanks.com
Chef Locke's It's Hi-Time Home Décor & More Inc., based in Spokane Valley, Wash., has extended its easy BBQ prep line with flavor and smoke accessories under the Larry the Cable Guy brand–in the process taking grill-friendly fare to the next level. The Smokin' Chips, Wraps and Firestarters are suitable for all proteins and infuse a tangy, smoky flavor in a fun and easy preparation method to help folks "git-R-done" and enjoy.
Lake Champlain Chocolates Organic Dark Chocolate Bars
Inspired by Peru's world-class cocoa, Burlington, Vt.-based Lake Champlain Chocolates added two organic chocolate bars to its organic chocolate line. The scrumptious single-origin 70 percent cocoa bars are Peru Organic and Cherry Peruvian, the latter of which features organic tart dried cherries from northern Michigan that perfectly complement the fruitiness already present in the chocolate, along with Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans, considered the finest and most balanced vanilla beans available.
Lawry's and McCormick Seasoning Blends and Coffee Extract
SRPs: $3.29 (Lawry's items);
$4.59 (Gourmet Seasoning items);
$1.40 (Grill Mates); $2.89 (Perfect Pinch)
and $4.42 (extract) www.mccormick.com
These fabulous flavors from Hunt Valley, Md.-McCormick & Co. enlivened PG tasters' various culinary endeavors. Lawry's Fire Roasted Chile & Garlic Blend and Roasted Garlic Salt with Oregano & Basil provided authentic Southwestern and Mediterranean zing, respectively, while McCormick Gourmet Cuban and Gourmet Tuscan Seasoning items were robust ambassadors for two time-honored cuisines. Specially designed for larger cuts of meat that require more time on the grill, the Slow & Low Memphis Pit BBQ Rub in the Grill Mates line went over big at one summer cookout we know of, and for the sodium-conscious among us, nothing could top the Perfect Pinch salt-free Fiesta Citrus and Southwest Sweet 'n Smoky varieties, both of which are treats for the taste buds. Last–but certainly not least–the Pure Coffee Extract proved an irresistible addition to cookies, cakes, pies, hot beverages and anything else that occurred to us.
Lipton Pure Leaf Real Brewed Tea
SRPs: $2.49-$2.69 (carafe); $1.69-$1.79 (single) www.pepsico.com
This Lipton/Pepsi joint project is a great addition to the growing ranks of bottled brewed teas. Brewed from Rainforest Alliance Certified tea leaves from China, India, Africa and South America, Pure Leaf comes in unique square PET bottles, and in nine assorted flavor and calorie combinations, including lemon, peach and raspberry. The sweet varieties–Sweetened and Southern-style Extra Sweet–are made with all-natural sugar, but the Unsweetened is a benchmark for a bold, clean-tasting, refreshing iced tea.
M&M'S Mint Dark Chocolate Candies
SRP: $1.09 (1.5-ounce single);
$2.99 (8-ounce resealable pouch) www.mars.com
The latest new variety of M&M'S is delicious, refreshing and a sure winner in the candy aisle. This time, the familiar candy shell encases creamy dark chocolate laced with refreshing mint. Mars Chocolate North America had offered this flavor only during the winter holiday season, but now consumers can enjoy it year-round–a smart move, since the Hackettstown, N.J.-based company notes that mint chocolate is a popular flavor enjoyed by consumers anytime (80 percent of sales are nonseasonal), and sales in the mint segment are growing faster than in the chocolate category.
Macanudo Cigar with Locked-In Humidity Packaging
SRP: $6.99 www.cigarworld.com
For grocers that want to sell premium handmade cigars but not install a humidor, General Cigar Co. has brought "Locked-In Humidity" packaging to its top-selling Macanudo cigar brand. This innovative, proprietary wrapping provides an airtight barrier that guarantees fresh-from-the-factory flavor in an attractive package and display. This packaging also presents grocers with merchandising opportunities away from the traditional tobacco section, such as the wine and spirits department. The sample was of Macanudo's traditional high quality, and the packaging delivered the 5.5-inch-by-50-ring-gauge cigar in perfect smoking condition. The pouch is also available on same-size cigars from General Cigar's Partagas, Punch and Excalibur brands.
Manischewitz Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix
SRP: $4.69 www.manischewitz.com
Including nearly everything needed to make–and bake–a cake, including cake mix, frosting mix and even a disposable pan, Manischewitz Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix from the respected Newark, N.J.-based kosher food company is ideal for convenience-seeking gluten-intolerant consumers. With a preparation time of less than 10 minutes and a baking time of about 40 minutes, the packaging features an on-pack icon communicating the healthier attributes of the all-natural item, which is an excellent source of fiber and low in sodium, as well as having no MSG, sulfites, and artificial preservatives or ingredients.
Mann's Rainbow Salad
SRP: $1.99-$2.99 www.mannpacking.com
With mini broccoli florettes now added to its already healthy and delicious mix of shredded carrots, cabbage and cauliflower for extra crunch and texture, the reformulated Rainbow Salad from Salinas, Calif.-based Mann Packing Co. is truly better than ever. The microwaveable pre-washed product works well in salads, wraps, sandwiches and more–one veggie-loving PG editor naturally used it as the basis of a super Fourth of July slaw.
Mediterranean Snacks HummuZ Crispz and Lentil Crackers
SRP: $3.49-$3.99 www.mediterraneansnackfoods.com
Tasty, crunchy snacks that boast enhanced wellness profiles without sacrificing taste, HummuZ Crispz and Lentil Crackers from Boonton, N.J.-based Mediterranean Snacks are low in fat, high in protein, gluten-free and non-GMO certified. Baked with real garbanzo beans, HummuZ Crispz are a good source of fiber and protein. Lentil Crackers–the first crackers made with protein-rich lentils–contain only 110 calories in a hearty 18-cracker portion and come in three flavors: Sea Salt, Cracked Pepper and Rosemary Herb.
Melt Organic Buttery Spreads
SRP: $3.99-$4.99 www.meltbutteryspread.com
Hailey, Idaho-based Prosperity Organic Foods launched this new line of certified-organic buttery spreads made from a blend of virgin coconut, flaxseed and sunflower oils. With no trans fats, hydrogenated oils, gluten, soy or artificial preservatives, Melt delivers a fresh, rich taste and creamy texture; the honey variety is particularly nice on wheat toast. Additionally, Melt tops, sautés and bakes just like butter, with half the saturated fat and fewer calories.
Meow Mix Tender Centers
SRP: $4.99 (small bag); $12.99 (large bag) www.delmonte.com
These dual-textured kibbles from San Francisco-based Del Monte Foods are crunchy outside with a meaty center–a combination that proved to be a big hit with our resident feline taste-testers. Available in tuna and white fish and salmon and white meat chicken flavors, the line was launched by the return of the memorable Meow Mix jingle, which last aired 16 years ago.
SRP: $4.99 www.kraft.com
An extension of Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft's MiO water "personalizer," MiO Energy adds a boost of energy and B vitamins with 60 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce serving, about the same as a 6-ounce cup of coffee. A few squirts of colorful flavor really do jazz up an otherwise mundane glass or bottle of water, and the energy boost can be a welcome mid-afternoon pick-me-up. It comes in Black Cherry and Green Thunder (sort of a tropical fruit flavor).
MOAB Açai Superfruit Blend
SRP: $2.99 www.friedas.com
A new fusion of exotic juices, Açai Superfruit Blend from Los Alamitos, Calif.-based specialty produce supplier Frieda's Inc. is a polyphenol powerhouse, with antioxidant strength to neutralize damaging free radicals and supercharge health. Enhanced with freeze-dried açai, organic açai juice from the Brazilian Amazon mingles with the nutrient-rich juices from Concord grapes, mangoes and other key players, along with the juices of acerola and passion fruit and the fruit purees of camu camu and capuaçu from Brazil. The beverage also features vegetarian omega-3 DHA to promote heart and brain health, and plant-derived glucosamine (vegetarian) for joint health.
Açai Superfruit Blend is gluten-free, dairy-free,
GMO-free, wheat-free, vegetarian, and vegan.
Other MOAB Superfruit Blend varieties include
Pomegranate and Wild Blueberry.
Mr. Clean Bliss Gloves
SRP: $3.99 www.thebutler.com
Cleaning is sheer bliss with these premium household gloves from Marlborough, Mass.-based Butler Home Products, which are latex-free and boast a plush, pillow-soft lining that keeps hands dry and comfortable. Additionally, an embossed palm grip helps to provide a safe grip.
Nature Made 100% Vegetarian Omega-3
SRP: $29.79 www.naturemade.com
There's nothing fishy about Nature Made 100% Vegetarian Omega-3, which enables vegetarian, vegans and those who can't tolerate or are allergic to fish to get the right dose of omega-3 fatty acids as recommended by heart-health experts. One of the first products to deliver a completely vegetarian alternative to regular fish oil supplements, the item from Northridge, Calif.-based Pharmavite contains EPA and DHA from a non-animal source made in an ocean-free environment.
Nature's Path Love Crunch Granolas
SRP: $4.99 www.naturespath.com
Shoppers are sure to love Love Crunch from Richmond, British Columbia-based Nature's Path Organic Foods as much as we did. Available in four delectable flavors–Carrot Cake, Apple Crumble, Aloha Blend, and Dark Chocolate & Red Berries–the USDA-certified organic, non-GMO granola line is packed with nutrients and whole grains, but no cholesterol or trans fats, and less sodium. And if all of that isn't enough to do your heart good, the brand's "Bite4Bite" initiative helps the needy: For each bag of Love Crunch sold, Nature's Path will donate the equivalent in cereal or cash, up to $1 million, to food banks. Additionally, the cereals come in eco-friendly standup resealable bags.
Ocean Mist Farms Season & Steam Microwavable Artichoke Pack
SRP: $3.99 www.oceanmist.com
Find artichoke preparation a hassle? You won't with the Season & Steam microwavable artichoke pack from Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist Farms. The innovative item offers two fresh Globe artichokes that are cleaned, trimmed and ready to cook in first-of-its-kind packaging that gives users the option to open the bag, pre-season the artichokes to taste, reseal the package and steam by microwave all within the same bag. And the results are utterly–not to mention effortlessly–delicious.
Oscar Mayer Selects
SRPs: $4.99 (9 ounces of cold cuts);
$3.99 (8-count hot dogs);
$6.99 (12 ounces of bacon) www.kraft.com
Some would say it's enough just to be bacon, but Oscar Mayer, a brand of Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft, goes one further with its delicious new Selects line, which has no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors. The bacon is uncured and the hot dogs contain no byproducts. Two of the hot dog varieties–New York Style and Chicago Recipe–attempt to capture those regional flavors with ingredients instead of toppings–not quite, but nice try. Still, the taste, texture and label of the dogs (which also include Turkey, Beef, Angus and Angus Bun-Length) are excellent, as are the cold cuts, especially the Slow Roasted Turkey Breast and Applewood Smoked Ham.
Pacific Soup Starters Vietnamese-style Pho
Tualatin, Ore.-based Pacific Natural Foods' innovative Soup Starters line, including three varieties of Vietnamese-style Pho, meets growing consumer interest in cooking ethnic dishes at home. Not only do these items have an immediate impact on retailers' bottom lines by encouraging consumers to pick up additional items across multiple departments to assemble the soups, but their satisfyingly tasty flavors will have shoppers coming back for more.
Panera Bread Salad Dressing
SRP: $4.99 www.arcobasso.com
Arcobasso Foods, a full-service custom manufacturer and bottler of salad dressings, sauces and marinades, helped Panera Bread launch its retail line of dressings in 2009. Since then, Hazelwood, Mo.-based Arcobasso has extended the Panera dressings line to 18 national grocery retailers, with 1,800 retail locations and counting. Among its newest dressings to bow in the past year, we give a healthy thumbs-up to the Fuji Apple and Cherry Balsamic varieties, which add unique restaurant flair to homemade salads.
Pearls/Early California Reduced Salt Olives
SRP: $1.79 www.olives.com
Although they contain 25 percent less sodium than regular black olives, these items sold under two trusted brands from Tracy, Calif.-based Musco Family Olive Co. don't disappoint on taste. Olive lovers–even those not watching their salt intake–will be hard-pressed to stop at the serving size of four.
SRPs: 99 cents (20-ounce and 2-liter);
$2.99 (introductory pricing for 12-pack) www.pepsico.com
Research has shown that there's a segment of consumers who are resistant to both regular, full-sugar cola and diet offerings. While these consumers love the taste of Pepsi, they don't believe you can achieve full-flavor taste with a diet cola. Purchase, N.Y.-based PespiCo developed Pepsi Next with these consumers in mind. Pepsi Next delivers real cola taste with 60 percent less sugar than Pepsi-Cola, which it achieves by offering just the right mix of cola flavor and a blend of sweeteners to closely mimic the taste curve of a regular cola. And the calorie-counters will be happy, too–Pepsi Next has only 40 calories per 8-ounce can.
Planters Nut-rition Men's Health
SRP: $5.99 (10.25-ounce can);
$7.89 (six 1.5-ounce pouches) www.kraft.com
Co-branded with the leading men's magazine, this tasty nut mix delivers a delicious, crunchy and healthy snack. Recent stats show that men these days are doing more grocery shopping and are more interested in wellness, so Planters Nut-trition from Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft is a perfect match. This blend of almonds, peanuts and pistachios contains 6 grams of protein and six vitamins and minerals per 1-ounce serving.
Pretty Lady for the Holidays Table Grapes Packaging
SRP: N/A www.dulcich.com
Introduced last November by Delano, Calif.-based Sunlight International Sales as a seasonal promotion for Pretty Lady brand table grapes from J. Dulcich & Sons in McFarland, Calif., this creative packaging and merchandising program featured colorful, eye-catching packaging with holiday-themed designs to appeal to customers of all ages, as well as accompanying POS materials such as display bins and shelf danglers. Consumers can rinse the grapes right in the innovative standup grab-and-go colander bags, which also enable easy and efficient carrying, displaying and storage. More themed promotions using the same innovative packaging are on the way from Sunlight–we can't wait!
Pretzel Crisps Dark Chocolate and Peppermint Variety
SRP: $2.99 www.pretzelcrisps.com
Sweet and salty meets chocolate mint for this new winner from Skillman, N.J.-based Snack Factory. Joining the brand's Holiday Indulgents line, Dark Chocolate & Peppermint Pretzel Crisps combines rich, dark chocolate with flat-baked pretzel crackers, topped off by peppermint candy pieces. This seasonal flavor is available at supermarkets and select specialty stores nationwide during the winter holiday season.
SRP: $5.99 www.majesticdrug.com
This unique dental cleaning product from South Fallsburg, N.Y.-based Majestic Drug features an ultra-fine, super-gentle interdental brush on one end and a flosser on the other–the only such product on the market to offer this combination in a single item. Additionally, innovative clamshell packaging holds 30 disposable brushes, one a day for a month, so PG staffers who are diligent about their midday dental hygiene don't need to replenish their stocks as often as previously.
Ritz Crackerfuls Big Stuff
SRP: $3.99 (box of 5 1.25-ounce packs) www.kraft.com
These days, when it comes to food, bigger isn't always better. But Ritz Crackerfuls Big Stuff from Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft is a winner, especially for those (editors included) who travel and often find themselves hungry but trapped on the tarmac. Made with 6 grams of whole grain per serving, it's perfect for tiding you over until that next mealtime. The Extreme Peanut Butter and Colossal Cheddar fillings bring a nice creamy contrast to the crunchy crackers.
Rubi Automated Coffee Kiosks
SRPs: $1 (12-ounce brewed coffee);
$1.50 (café mocha or vanilla);
50 cents extra (16-ounce size) www.coinstar.com
The folks up in Bellevue, Wash., who brought us Coinstar and Redbox are now offering a turnkey solution for grocers looking to improve their in-store coffee programs. In partnership with Seattle's Best Coffee, the Rubi system features touchscreen ordering and French press technology that grinds the beans and delivers steaming cups of great-tasting fresh-brewed coffee in about a minute. Supported by a Web-based frequent-customer program that remembers your previous order and e-mails your receipts, Rubi is bound to be embraced by retailers looking to save on labor and waste while providing their shoppers with a great cup o' joe.
Russo's Gluten-Free New York Style Pizza
SRP: $10.99-$11.99 www.nypizzeria.com
Russo's New York Style Gluten-Free Pizza features a vegan crust made with rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch and extra-virgin olive oil, infused with honey and Italian seasonings. It's available in six varieties: Greek, New York Style, Margherita, Chicken Rustica, Pepperoni and Italian Mozzarella, and Mulberry. Founded in 1992 by chef Anthony Russo, Houston-based Russo's New York Pizzeria is known as the only place to find authentic New York pizza and Italian dishes in Texas. It operates 28 restaurants in Texas, Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas, and will soon be expanding to New York and New Jersey.
SRP: $3.99 www.sahalesnacks.com
It's always great to see new twists on snacks that make healthy noshing delicious. With several innovative flavor combinations, Seattle-based Sahale's new Sahale Crunchers team lightly roasted sliced almonds with fruits and spices, offering unique mixes like Almonds with Cherries, Apples & Maple; Almonds with Cranberries, Sesame Seeds & Honey; and Almonds with Parmesan & Herbs. With less than 140 calories per serving, Sahale Crunchers add zing to healthy snacking.
Salem Baking Co. Cookies
SRP: $5.99 www.salembaking.com
It would be a shock to find a product from Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Salem that we didn't like, especially after experiencing its full line at a trade show. So it was no surprise how much their new releases impressed us. The Moravian sugar cookies, so delicately crisp on their own, are more decadent in holiday shapes, enrobed in chocolate and topped with crushed peppermint. The Butter Pecan Praline Shortbread Cookies are buttery rich, and the Pumpkin Spice Shortbread–laced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice– evokes images of the fall and winter holidays.
Sea Best Signature Entrées
SRPs: $5.72-$7.80 www.seabest.com
The Sea Best Signature line from Jacksonville, Fla.-based Beaver Street Fisheries features complete seafood dishes in a variety of flavor profiles. The line was developed to give consumers a foolproof method of preparing sophisticated seafood culinary creations at home. All items within the line are preseasoned, packaged in microwave-safe/oven-safe containers and ready in about six minutes. The tray itself is self-venting, creating a steam environment that gives the consumer a better-finished product than conventional microwave cooking. The line includes seven original recipes based on consumer input and research: Maine Lobster Cakes, Mango Crusted Swai, Potato Crusted Cod, Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Flounder, Shrimp & Grits, Stuffed Clams, and Tilapia Florentine.
Seattle Chocolates Baby, It's Cold Outside
SRPs: $3.50 (2-ounce bar);
$11.95 (6-ounce box of truffles) www.seattlechocolates.com
This special 2012 holiday collection of vintage-style truffle bars from the chocolate purveyor unsurprisingly based in Seattle was created to evoke the romance, glamour and innocence of a bygone era. There are five "cozy and family" flavors: Christmas Cookie Bar (milk chocolate, white chocolate center, vanilla, cinnamon oil, raw sugar crystals); Hot Buttered Rum Bar (milk chocolate with a hint of rum and toffee crunch); Holiday Cheer Eggnog Bar (milk chocolate with sweet vanilla, cream and nutmeg); Mom's Hot Cocoa Bar (milk chocolate bar with marshmallow bits); and Candy Cane Crunch Bar (minty dark chocolate truffle with candy cane chips). The truffles are also available in a holiday party box illustrated with scenes of a 1950s holiday shindig, and a fun "snow day" box with a wintry backdrop.
Snyder's of Hanover Eatsmart Potato Crisps and Bacon Cheddar Pretzel Pieces
SRPs: $3.49-$3.99 www.snyderslance.com
Our picks from Hanover, Pa.-based Snyder's could be described as both naughty and nice. You can rarely go wrong with bacon or cheese, so both is better: generous chunks of sourdough hard pretzels with hearty bacon and cheddar cheese flavors. Meanwhile, the brand has added potato crisps to its better-for-you Eatsmart line. These crunchy all-natural popped snacks have 65 percent less fat than regular potato chips and come in Original, Sea Salt & Vinegar, and sweet-spicy Mesquite BBQ flavors.
SRP: $5.99 www.trifectafoods.com
Add some sunshine to your day with this rejuvenated take on trail mix from Pacoima, Calif.-based Trifecta Foods LLC that blends best-of-class ingredients with a proprietary process enhancing flavor and aroma. Sold under the Sunkist brand–synonymous in consumers' minds with quality citrus fruits–these tasty anytime snacks are designed to be marketed in the fresh produce section.
SunRidge Farms Items
SRP: Various www.sunridgefarms.com
Among among the slew of tasty new snacks from Royal Oaks, Calif.-based SunRidge Farms, two stood out as our particular favorites. Mango Almonds are all-natural dry-roasted almonds coated with a creamy mango coating, and made with real vanilla and natural flavors. They contain no preservatives, O grams of trans fats, no hydrogenated oils, and are GMO- and rBST-free. Vanilla Chai Raisins (above) consist of all-natural exotic chai spices and green tea blended together in a creamy real-vanilla coating poured over sun-ripened raisins. They contain no hydrogenated oils, titanium dioxide or trans fats, and are GMO-free.
SunRype Just Fruit & Grains
SRP: $1.29 www.sunrype.com
This dense, chewy bar from Kelowna, British Columbia-based SunRype Products Ltd. is made up of 70 percent fruit and 30 percent grains, with nothing else added. The simple, healthy all-natural ingredient list includes fruit purees, fruit and vegetable juice concentrates, oats, barley, rice crisps, sunflower seeds and flax seeds. What's more, there are two great flavors to choose from: Summer Berries and Strawberry Mango.
SRP: $7.99 www.wisdomnaturalbrands.com
For those who love baking and whipping up other sweet treats but aren't keen to cut down on their sugar intake, SugarLeaf is a 100 percent natural low-calorie sweetener from Gilbert, Ariz.-based Wisdom Natural Brands, the maker of SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener. Made by bonding SweetLeaf Stevia and raw cane sugar, SugarLeaf offers the sweet taste and browning and bulking qualities of sugar, but with two-thirds fewer calories and carbohydrates. And we were particularly glad to find out that since SugarLeaf is three times sweeter than sugar, less is needed in recipes.
Talenti Gelato e Sorbetto
SRP: $4.99-$5.99 www.talentigelato.com
Great-tasting, all-natural Talenti gelati and sorbetti are uniquely creamy and intensely flavored, made in small batches using traditional Italian equipment. Featuring milk from cows not treated with artificial hormones, Talenti's newest gelati are not only incredibly rich and creamy but, with about 30 percent less fat than regular ice cream, they're also a healthier alternative. In true Talenti tradition, the five new gelati are made from scratch with only the best all-natural ingredients. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, Banana Chocolate Swirl, Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chip-Stracciatella went over big with PG's road-testers, as did the mess-free screw-top lids.
Tastykake and Mrs. Freshley's Doughnuts and Pastries
SRPs: 85 cents-$4.49 www.flowersfoods.com
Flowers Foods impressed us with some of its latest releases under its Mrs. Freshley's and Tastykake brands. The co-branded Cinnabon Honey Bun is a sweet and moist breakfast treat, topped with cinnamon and icing. The Little Layer Cakes offer rich vanilla icing and a drizzle of chocolate-enrobed soft yellow cake with crème filling. The mini doughnuts from Tastykake make it too easy to eat more than one, especially the powdered sugar variety, and the Crème Filled Chocolate Bells are rich, chocolaty crème-filled morsels. The Cinnabon products are great for folks looking for that trademark cinnamon roll taste outside the mall. And with Flowers' distribution network, Tastykake products can be enjoyed by Philadelphia expats around the country.
Thai Kitchen Rice Noodles
SRP: $3.79 www.thaikitchen.com
Making authentic Asian noodle dishes has gotten much easier with this new line of all-natural rice noodles from Thai Kitchen, a brand of Berkeley, Calif.-based Simply Asia Foods LLC that's available in three gluten-free varieties (Brown Rice, Red Rice, and Purple Corn & Rice Noodles). Perhaps best of all is that they're packaged in four individual servings that allow consumers to add variety and personality to their favorite dishes, including stir-fries, soups and salads. Add the vegetables, protein and seasonings of your choice, and you're eating a unique and flavorful dish in minutes.
TruRoots Sprouted Trios
SRP: $4.19-$5.49 www.truroots.com
PG tasters took the opportunity to get in touch with their roots with this shelf-stable, quick-cooking, naturally gluten-free, vegan and certified GMO-free product line featuring three types of sprouted rice, lentils and quinoa, respectively. Offering mosaics of color that are as lovely to look at as they are to eat–especially the quinoa combo–Livermore, Calif.-based TruRoots offers products that are directly sourced and sustainably grown.
Turkey Hill SunBrew Iced Tea
SRP: N/A www.turkeyhill.com
The folks at Conestoga, Pa.-based Turkey Hill are pioneers in chilled bottled tea in a multitude of flavors, and their latest release is a masterpiece. SunBrew aims to capture a home-brewed taste and truly hits the mark. With cane sugar and no added preservatives or colors, SunBrew comes in a 25-calorie Lightly Sweetened variety, as well as 80-calorie Sweetened and calorie-free Unsweetened. Our editors who live on the fringes of Turkey Hill's marketing area hope SunBrew will soon arrive at their local stores.
Tyson Deli Market Products and Pork Sparerib Mini Racks
SRPs: $3.99-$4.99 (Deli Market items); $5.49 per pound for a $8.50-$9.50 retail unit price (spareribs) www.tyson.com
We were frankly wowed by the Tyson Deli Market line, which features a whole range of fully cooked meal solutions, from restaurant-inspired pasta entrées, to glazed chicken breast fillets, to chicken fajita strips. The Springdale, Ark.-based company's heat-and-serve products come in both modified-atmosphere and vacuum skin packaging to retain freshness and quality. Meanwhile, for rib lovers, Tyson Pork Sparerib Mini Racks offer vacuum-packaged, pre-seasoned and portioned products that require minimal preparation and quick cooking times to deliver easy, no-fuss meals with no waste or mess. Available in Applewood and Teriyaki flavors, the line also provides smaller portion sizes–ideal for those of us who don't have an army to feed.
Udi's Gluten Free Foods Items
SRPs: $5.99-$6.99 www.udisglutenfree.com
Chocolate Chia Muffin Tops, Classic French Dinner Rolls and Millet-Chia Bread are among Udi's new line of products. The muffin tops allow the nutritionally minded to indulge in a little chocolate decadence. The dinner rolls are ideal for sharing at dinner with family or friends. The Ancient Grain Breads have more protein and fiber than Udi's original white and whole grain varieties, but are just as tasty. Baked with hearty ancient grains, this bread contains a wholesome balance of nutrients vitamins and earthy flavors. It's baked with chia, a naturally gluten-free seed that supplies beneficial nutrients and a delicious flavor.
Velveeta Cheesy Skillets
SRP: $3.25 www.kraft.com
There were a lot of smiles around the table on the night these samples from Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft were tested. The creamy cheese sauce takes these boxed meals up a notch or two. Just combine the pasta and seasonings with chicken, ground beef or tuna; mix in the sauce; and you've got a dinnertime crowd-pleaser in about 20 minutes. The biggest raves went to the Chicken Alfredo; new varieties also include Chili Cheese Mac and Tuna Melt.
Warheads Sour Twists
SRP: 99 cents www.impactconfections.com
Warheads Sour Twists from Littleton, Colo.-based Impact Confections is a three-color, three-flavor extruded chewy candy that's intertwined for a mouthwatering treat. It can be eaten as one combined twist, or untwisted so each flavor can be savored individually. Each twist has a fruity center and sour sanding, and is made to appeal to all taste buds. The product comes in a 2-ounce tray of twists in green apple, lemon and watermelon flavors. Warheads is supporting the new product launch online through sponsorships with Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, as well as engagement with the Warheads Facebook community of more than 1.3 million fans.
Willamette Valley Granola Co. Granola Chips
SRP: $3.99 www.willamettevalleygranola.com
Granola's been marketed as a snack before, but never quite like this. Portland, Ore.-based Willamette Valley has introduced lightly sweetened, crispy bite-sized chips featuring a whole grain blend of oats, quinoa, amaranth and barley that enabled PG tasters to feel virtuous as they indulged. The product line's resealable pouches come in four toothsome flavors: Butter Pecan, Wild Berry, Honey Nut and Vanilla Bean.
Wrigley's Gum and Candy
SRPs: 69 cents-$3.19 www.wrigley.com
There was lots to love from Chicago-based Wrigley. Life Savers Gummies new 4.2-ounce Share Size Pouches replace the 2-ounce individual pouches launched in 2009. These pouches offer consumers more gummies in three flavor varieties: 5 Flavors, Mix-O-Reds, Sours and Collisions. The Micro Pack versions of 5 and Orbit gums were designed to make it convenient and affordable for consumers to keep their favorite chewing gums handy all of the time. The new 6-tab envelopes are available in 5 Rain (a tingling spearmint) and 5 Cobalt (a cooling peppermint), and Orbit Spearmint, Wintermint and Strawberry Remix. Skittles Riddles are a new bite-sized chewy candy with colors that don't match the flavors to keep consumers guessing as they make their way through bites of Strawberry, Apple, Watermelon, Fruit Punch and Raspberry. Starburst Flavor Morph chews start as one fruit flavor and transform into another as special flavor beads burst with a second flavor, creating a unique and new-to-the category experience. Each package contains an assortment of two juicy changing flavors: Cherry, Cherry Lime, Orange and Orange Strawberry.
Yes To Carrots Leave-in Conditioner with Argan Oil
SRP: $8.99 www.yestocarrots.com
Go ahead, say yes. San Francisco-based Yes To Carrots' Leave-In Conditioner sends a mix of proteins and amino acids deep into hair cuticles for some serious restructuring and rejuvenating benefits. Formulated for normal to dry and damaged hair types, the easy-to-apply, 98 percent natural formula provides a more intense level of benefit for hair that needs a little TLC, with argan oil and keratin proteins getting to the root of each strand of hair to strengthen and renew