Hershey Hugs & Kisses Its Hometown

The Wall Street Journal: “From the roller coasters at Hershey Park to the butterfly conservatory at Hershey Gardens, Hershey, Pa., was literally built on the generosity of its founder, the iconic chocolatier Milton S. Hershey. No wonder, then, that Hershey residents fret the tap might run dry if Hershey Co. is sold or merges with a suitor.”

“Hershey is a holdout from a bygone American era, when some 2,000 towns sprang up to serve one particular coal mine, textile factory or slaughterhouse. Many have faded as factories moved overseas and technological advancements led to job cuts … The same fate hasn’t befallen Hershey, where Kisses-shaped lamps burn bright above the downtown intersection of Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues.”

“Hershey’s resilience is due largely to the unusual strength of Hershey Trust … Milton Hershey founded the trust over a century ago, mainly to look after the Milton Hershey School for some 2,000 underprivileged children. It still does that, but today the trust also owns a resort and spa, an amusement park and a real-estate company in town.”

“Brad Reese, the grandson of the creator of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which Hershey bought in 1963, spent his early years in what he calls “this very insular town.” He swam in the pool at the Hershey-built community center, and drank milk from the Hershey-owned dairy. ‘It’s a honey pot,’ said Mr. Reese, ‘the hand that feeds’.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Simple Products Beget Simple Packages

The Wall Street Journal: “Instead of burying ingredient lists in the fine print on the back of the package, food manufacturers are trumpeting simpler formulas prominently on the label’s front … More people care deeply about what’s in their food and insist on recognizing the ingredients. The litmus test for many consumers is whether those ingredients might appear in their own kitchen cupboards.”

“Simply Tostitos Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips boast only three ingredients: blue corn, organic expeller-pressed sunflower oil and sea salt. This past June, General Mills Inc.’s Larabar snack bar line launched Larabar Bites. The bites—available in flavors such as double chocolate brownie and cherry chocolate chip—resemble truffles and contain few ingredients which are prominently displayed on the front of the package.”

“New ads for Haagen-Dazs ice cream in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles show a spoonful of vanilla ice cream. ‘5 ingredients, one incredible indulgence’ read ads, which also list the recipe of cream, milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla … This fall, ConAgra’s Bertolli Frozen Meals is rolling out a new, reformulated line of meals that feature a shorter ingredient list that reads more like a recipe.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Sam Adams & The Nano-Brewery

Fast Company: “These days, Sam Adams has lost a bit of its mojo among the thousands of new craft brews that have flooded the marketplace … That’s where Jennifer Glanville comes in … In 2012, Glanville helped set up the Nano-Brewery to incorporate innovation into the actual brewing process … Every day, Sam Adams brewers use the Nano as a lab for experimenting with new flavors, textures, and processes. Some projects are simply about incremental improvement: how to tweak a recipe to make a beer tarter, more citrusy, or with a less overwhelming aroma. But some projects are about creating something entirely new and unlike anything else on the market.”

“One of the Nano’s recent successes with critics and consumers is the Nitro Project. Released earlier this year, the beers come in cans with widgets that activate upon opening, infusing the drink with a creamy texture. While nitrogenation has been frequently used in stouts (think Guinness), it isn’t found in wheat beers or pale ales—until now … As you pop open the can and pour it into a mug, it fills with froth that cascades downward. This makes the beer very smooth, but it also brings out some of the subtle flavors that you might not otherwise taste, like the citrus and pepper undercurrents.”

“Years ago, a drinker would profess a loyalty to a particular brand, but today’s consumer is promiscuous, preferring to sample new products.” Glanville comments: “There was a time when people wouldn’t want to order a beer they were unfamiliar with in case they didn’t like it. But now, they’ll walk into a liquor store and buy an entire six-pack they’ve never tried before, willing to take a chance on it.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

LTO: Temptation & The Elusive McRib

The Atlantic: “Despite its list of 70-plus ingredients-—or perhaps because of it—few things galvanize the appetite of the American public like the McRib, the boneless pork-based sandwich, which briefly blooms like a spring ephemeral on McDonald’s menus before disappearing each year … In addition to being a cult favorite, the McRib is the best-known iteration of what the world of quick-service food calls limited-time offers, or LTOs.”

“In general their aim is to stoke excitement for a brand and entice customers to make an extra visit without resorting to discounts or cannibalizing their ordinary regimens … LTOs aren’t necessarily meant as a testing ground for full-time menu items; they’re meant to grab attention … Arby’s—historically known best for its roast beef sandwiches—distills its menu items through a decidedly ‘meat-centric’ prism.”

Jim Taylor of Arby’s comments: “We’re in the temptation business with the LTOs, not the education business. If people don’t really know what it is, they are not going to be attracted to it. But by the same token, if what you’re giving them is something they can get anywhere else, they’re not going to pay attention and come into the store specifically for us on an extra visit.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Saltwater Brewery: Edible 6-Pack Rings

Quartz: “Saltwater Brewery has introduced new, eco-friendly six-pack rings for their beer … The grain-based rings are both biodegradable and edible—so rather than choking on them, marine life can safely chow down on them instead.”

“The brewery makes the rings by shipping grain leftover from its beer-making process offsite. The grain is then bound with biopolymer, a protein occurring in living organisms, and pressed into shape … While the spent-grain compound isn’t super nutritious for sea creatures, it’s not harmful in any way.”

“The switch to biodegradable rings was costly for Saltwater Brewery … Currently, consumers have to pay about 10 cents more per beer for the technology. Right now the brewery offers a mix of plastic rings and the new biodegradable rings … In coming months, the brewery hopes to shift completely over to edible rings. The brewery also plans to make the biopolymer technology blueprint available for purchase, so that other beverage companies can stop using plastic rings, too.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Meet the Spuglies: Walmart Attacks Food Waste

Quartz: “Shoppers tooling down Walmart grocery aisles now encounter brands that package and sell ugly produce. The ‘Spuglies’ brand markets misshapen potatoes and the ‘I’m Perfect’ brand offers apples that have gone askew. These companies pushing misfit fruits and veggies into the mainstream give consumers a way to fight food waste with their wallets.”

“Since it began tackling food waste within its own system in 2013, the retailer says it has diverted 82% of food that would have otherwise gone to landfills. That amounts to about 2 billion meals. According to ReFED, a food waste advocacy group, a 20% reduction in waste would reclaim the 1,250 calories per capita that goes into landfills each year. That’s enough to feed America’s food-insecure population three times over.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Naughty But Nice: Food & Morality

The Guardian: “Anything that tastes good has got to be bad for your body, soul or both. The marketing department of Magnum knew this when it called its 2002 limited edition range the Seven Deadly Sins. Nothing makes a product more enticing than its being naughty, or even better, wicked.”

“In recent years, however, the moralistic lexicon of food seems to have expanded. One recent fad has been for ‘dirty’ American food, a term that revels in the idea that fatty burgers and messy pulled pork buns are so right because they’re so wrong … Perhaps the clearest proof that the way we talk about food is saturated with moralism is the ubiquity of the term ‘guilt.’ Marketing departments have seen the power of this and promoted ‘guilt-free’ snacks and treats.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Mueller Chocolate: Gross Profits

The Washington Post: “It’s a Saturday afternoon at Philadelphia’s popular Reading Terminal Market … On a busy day like this, Mueller Chocolate might serve 800 customers … As crowds of shoppers move past the Mueller stall, some stop to point, stare and whisper: ‘Oh, my goodness, what is that?’ Well ‘that’ is a display of kidneys (with candy kidney stones), brains, livers, eyes, hands, feet (with almonds as toenails) and noses — all edible, all chocolate.”

“It started, Glenn Jr. recalls, one Valentine’s Day in the late 1990s, when his mother decided that ‘these heart-shaped boxes are stupid.’ She had a mold created based on a drawing of a human heart in her son-in-law’s medical school textbook … When the chocolate heart made national news, orders came in from around he world, he said, and demand hasn’t slowed down.”

“The sweet stuff takes hundreds of forms at the Mueller stall, none more infamous than the chocolate-covered raw onion. It was created in 1983, when the creator of a local children’s television show, ‘Double Muppet Hold the Onions,’ asked the Muellers to make a chocolate-covered onion for Kermit to present to Miss Piggy.” Glenn Meuller Jr. explains: “The chocolate onion . . . is hideous, but we’ve been doing it for 30 years. It changed our trajectory.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail