Friday, August 6, 2021

Insight: Creative grocery minds working overtime

By Ed Pierce

Managing Editor

On a recent trip to the grocery store, I discovered that new products are hitting the shelves this summer faster than I can keep track of them. 

The creative departments at Kellogg’s and General Mills decided that this was a perfect time to introduce a range of new mash-up cereals featuring familiar tastes. Shoppers can now choose between mash-up combinations such as Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops or Frosted Flakes and Apple Jacks, or new concoctions from General Mills that feature a mash-up of Trix and Cookie Crisp or Lucky Charms and Frosted Flakes cereals.

Not to be outdone, the Kellogg’s braintrust also has jazzed up its line of Pop Tarts this summer with three new bakery treats including Peach Cobbler, Banana Crème Pie and Lemon Crème Pie.

For fans of Thin Mint cookies sold annually by Girl Scouts, I’ve noticed Keebler has now come out with a line of Girl Scout Thin Mint flavored ice cream cones. And the never-ending lineup of exotic Pringles’ potato crisp flavors now includes Wendy’s Spicy Chicken, Wavy Pineapple Habenero, and Scorchin’ Sour Cream and Onion.

Cashing in on the smartphone emoji craze, Eggo waffles has introduced “Eggoji waffles” with playful animated faces on each waffle. Then there’s also a new line of limited Hostess Cupcake summertime flavors such as Key Lime Pie and a returning summer flavor, S’mores.    

Traveling down the soda pop aisle, shoppers can’t help but notice the brightly colored yellow, green and orange cans of new Mountain Dew Baja flavors. The yellow can is pineapple coconut and Mountain Dew called “Baja Flash,” while the green can is called “Baja Blast” mixing traditional Mountain Dew with a lime flavor. The orange can is “Baja Punch” featuring a mix of Tropical Punch and Mountain Dew.

These may not necessarily be new products, but I just observed several items I’ve never seen before in the pancake aisle while shopping last weekend. My grocery store is now selling Cap’n Crunch’s Berrytastic Pancake Mix and Cap’n Crunch’s Ocean Blue Maple Pancake Syrup. The Cap’n Crunch’s Berrytastic Pancake Mix combines Aunt Jemima buttermilk pancake mix with colorful Crunch Berry cereal-inspired bits and Cap’n Crunch’s Ocean Blue Maple Syrup is a sweet topping with Crunch Berry blue color.

Nearby in that same aisle, I saw several kinds of new Aunt Jemima microwave pancake cups in chocolate chip and buttermilk and maple flavors. Each cup contains enough pancake batter that when mixed with water can be microwaved for an on-the-go pancake treat.  

Lay’s Potato Chips has three new flavors out for a limited time this summer including Chile Mango, Wavy Jerk Chicken and Summer BLT. According to the package, Chile Mango combines mango and chile pepper tastes; Wavy Jerk Chicken features the authenticity of spicy, sweet and smoky jerk chicken; and Summer BLT chips combine bacon, lettuce and tomato flavors.

Plant-based burgers and meats have been on grocery shelves for a while now, but during my weekend shopping trip I noticed a product line of plant-based fish in the frozen food aisle for the first time. Good Catch has a line of frozen fish sticks, frozen fish fillets and frozen crab cakes out now made entirely from plants.

It’s also hard to miss BirdsEye’s line of bright green packages of meat-free offerings in the frozen food aisle. BirdsEye’s Green Cuisine line sells a variety of plant-based chicken strips, plant-based chicken nuggets, plant-based sausage and plant-based meatballs and I suspect plant-based fish sticks will not be very far behind those products on grocery shelves. While discussing new BirdsEye products, I couldn’t help but notice a bag of frozen rainbow-colored BirdsEye Steamfresh cauliflower that I imagine some mothers will want to purchase to entice their children to try that vegetable.

Skittles has introduced several new candy products that have arrived on my grocery store candy shelf including Skittles Gummies and single-serve boxes containing only lime green Skittles.

Venturing over to the condiment aisle, I noticed that the classic line of Old Bay crab seasoning now includes bottles of Old Bay Hot Sauce. And Heinz now offers a product called Honeyracha, a blend of ketchup and sriracha sauce.

Choosing a jar of Hellmann’s mayonnaise has never been harder. My grocery shelf now includes Classic Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise; Vegan Hellmann’s; Avocado Oil Hellmann’s; Canola Cholesterol-Free Hellmann’s; Organic Spicy Chipolte Hellmann’s; Homestyle Hellmann’s; Low-Fat Hellmann’s; Hellmann’s Olive Oil Mayonnaise; Extra Creamy Hellmann’s; Light Hellmann’s Mayonnaise; and Hellmann’s Relish Sandwich Spread.

I attribute all of this proliferation of new items hitting supermarket shelves this summer to grocery product developers stuck at home last year during the pandemic who experimented with an array of flavors and tastes while restaurants were scaled back, and Americans were cooking at home more than ever.

I may not ever try Veggie Goldfish carrot crackers, Cookie Pop Oreo-flavored popcorn, Pringles Wavy Deep Fried Pickle potato crisps or Pepsi marshmallow Peeps, but it’s nice to have a selection when shopping, isn’t it? <

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