‘Newman’s Own’ Videos Target Millennials

The New York Times: “Newman’s Own is making more of a show of its record of magnanimity, rolling out a marketing initiative aimed at millennials who might not recognize the famous face of the brand and might have little to no knowledge of its altruistic story … Newman’s Own worked with the production company the Narrative Content Group … to produce videos that highlight a few of the 600 charities the company works with each year.”

“The foundation, which is funded entirely through sales of Newman’s Own products and does not accept donations, gave away $260.8 million before Mr. Newman’s death and $224.4 million since then, or about $28 million annually since 2008. But only a third of Newman’s Own customers said they realized the company gave away its profits … That figure was even lower among millennials … only 12 percent acknowledged they knew how much of Newman’s Own’s profits were donated.”

“The videos are not typical promotional ads, because they do not mention anything about Newman’s Own products. Instead, they highlight its partnerships, such as those with organizations that provide guide dogs to blind veterans and a school for girls in Kenya.”

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Toblerone’s ‘Treasonous’ Triangle

The New York Times: “The maker of Toblerone, the Swiss chocolate bar, has reconfigured the unique appearance of two of its milk-chocolate versions, with narrower triangles and a larger gap between peaks … the changes to the smaller one … were so pronounced that Toblerone’s Facebook page was filled with outrage from aggrieved consumers, even though only a relatively small number were likely to be affected.”

“The change, which was announced on the Toblerone Facebook page last month, is in keeping with a common strategy for companies trying to avoid price increases by reducing the contents of a product without changing the packaging. Most consumers are unaware of the changes because the product usually looks and is priced the same — there is simply less of it — but the newer, gappier Toblerone bar felt treasonous to the brand’s loyal consumers.”

“The triangular milk chocolate bar, sold in a yellow package with red letters, has been around since 1908. The founder, Theodor Tobler, combined his family name with ‘torrone,’ the Italian word for nougat, and patented his recipe of chocolate mixed with milk and honey … Mondelez International noted that while the overall look of the bar is different, the recipe remains the same and the chocolate is still made in Switzerland.”

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Chopped Cheese: A New York Hero

The New York Times: “The chopped cheese is a New York success story — with a somewhat charged twist. The sandwich, also called a chop cheese — ground beef with onions, topped by melted cheese and served with lettuce, tomatoes and condiments on a hero roll — has long been a staple of bodegas in Harlem and the Bronx. Now, it has started migrating from grill tops to restaurant menus, from the lyrics of rappers onto the pages of food blogs.”

“Usually costing $4 or $5, the sandwich has the qualities of what scientists call an emergent property — it is greater than the sum of its parts. Fans of the food say part of its appeal is that it is infinitely customizable … But in recent years, the sandwich has been finding a wider audience: a cameo in a Bronx-themed episode of Anthony Bourdain’s CNN show, ‘Parts Unknown’; a shout-out in a restaurant review in The New York Times; an in-depth look on a food blog run by Complex Media; and a growing volume of web features, music videos and social media chatter.”

“Jocelyn Guest, a 32-year-old butcher, said that when she and her business partner, Erika Nakamura, decided to open up a butcher shop and restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan featuring classic New York fare, they had to include the chopped cheese … But news that the restaurant … would include an approximately $15 chopped cheese drew … anger. When the restaurant opened recently, the price was lowered to $11 … The sandwich continues to work its way into the city’s culture in unexpected ways, showing up in vegan renditions, in recipes and at a recent food festival.”

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Halo Top: Lo-Cal ‘Wonder’ Dessert

Bloomberg Businessweek: “If you’re a committed ice cream adherent, you may have already heard of Halo Top, the wonder dessert with as many calories per pint (240 to 280; $5.99) as a single half-cup serving of most ice creams. It also has just 5 grams of sugar, as much protein as a 3-ounce serving of beef (24g), and only 8g of fat. Compared with a pint of Chunky Monkey (1,200 calories, 112g sugar, 16g protein, 72g fat), or even Breyer’s fat-free (360 calories, 52g sugar, 8g protein), Halo Top looks like a flat-out miracle.”

“Like many great inventions, Halo Top was the result of trial and error. In traditional ice cream, not only does sugar provide flavor, but it also lowers the melting point so the frozen product doesn’t get rock hard. Fat, meanwhile, helps create a scoopable consistency. Remove both of those components, and you’re left with what amounts to flavored ice.” Halo Top founder Justin Woolverton “landed on a no-calorie sugar alcohol called erythritol (not the kind of alcohol that would get you drunk) along with the all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener Stevia for sweetness, milk protein to make up for the lost fat, plant fiber to help with meltability, and extra egg white for overall consistency.”

Halo Top “appeals to two seemingly opposed groups: those seeking low-calorie ice cream alternatives, and others seduced by a dessert that can help them bulk up … Halo Top’s success has enabled it to experiment in an unexpected way: with higher-calorie versions. In October the company introduced 10 flavors, including red velvet and peanut butter cup … At 360 calories a pint, it’s still a sweet deal.”

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Myth on the Rocks: The Seelbach Story

The New York Times: The Seelbach cocktail, a specialty of the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, has an “elaborate origin story involving a couple from New Orleans … The man ordered a manhattan, the woman a Champagne cocktail. The clumsy bartender, spilling the bubbly into the manhattan, set the mess aside and made the drinks anew. But the accidental mélange got the barman thinking. Soon, the Seelbach cocktail was born.”

In 1995, Adam Seger, then a rookie bartender at the Seelbach Hotel, announced he had re-discovered this long-forgotten, pre-Prohibition recipe, and put it on the menu. “The news media soon picked up on the tale, and within a few years, the Seelbach cocktail was regarded as a rescued classic. It’s a tantalizing back story, one that has charmed cocktail writers and aficionados for years, and there’s only one thing wrong with it: None of it is true.”

Mr. Seger, who recently admitted his fabrication, explains: “I was nobody. I had no previous accolades in the bar world. I knew I could make a great drink. I wanted it to be this promotion for the hotel, and I felt the hotel needed a signature cocktail.” A hotel spokesperson says the Seelbach cocktail “has certainly been a tradition of the hotel and will remain part of its future.”

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Campbell’s ‘Habit’ Fuses Food & Technology

Philadelphia Business Journal: “Campbell’s Soup Co. has become the sole investor of a San Francisco-based company that combines nutrition, technology and food delivery into one bundle. The Camden-based food company is investing $32 million in Habit, a personalized nutrition company that will launch in 2017. The company develops nutrition recommendations based on a person’s biology, metabolism and personal goals, and it creates a so-called personal blueprint.”

“Habit then delivers customized meals to the person’s doorstep, and offers one-on-one wellness and nutrition coaching as well … Habit users are given an at-home test kit that measures more than 60 different biomarkers, including nutrition-related blood markers and genetic variations in DNA. Users also provide body metrics like body weight and height, as well as health goals. Habit then synthesizes the data to determine food and nutrients best suited for each individual.”

Campbell’s CEO Denise Morrison comments: “The entire food industry is being transformed by the fusion of food, well-being and technology … Campbell’s investment is part of our broader efforts to define the future of food, which requires fresh thinking, new models of innovation, smart external development and venture investing to create an ecosystem of innovative partners.”

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Veggie Tots: The Future of Frozen Food?

Bloomberg Businessweek: “Big Food is betting that frozen food, a relic of Sputnik and the Mickey Mouse Club, can stir the hearts and palates of the quinoa generation even as sales figures have fallen each year since 2009. The products need to overcome a reputation, some of it earned and some not, that the meals found in your grocer’s freezer, often packed with sodium and preservatives, taste meh.”

“B&G is wooing millennials with frozen ‘veggie tots’ with broccoli and cauliflower. Kraft Heinz’s Devour line includes recipes like white cheddar mac and cheese with bacon, pulled-chicken burrito bowls and pesto ravioli with spicy Italian sausage … Conagra Foods Inc., the maker of leading brands Marie Callender’s and Banquet, is trying to bring some foodie prestige with its Wicked Kitchen line, which the company says was inspired by food trucks.”

“B&G is approaching the future with a little bit of the past. The pickle and snack company’s purchase of Green Giant nearly doubled its size and marked its first foray into the freezer case. It’s betting the Jolly Green Giant will tap into the nostalgia of parents looking to put vegetables on the dinner table while finding a new audience with millennials.”

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Secret Sauce: From Condiment to Cliché

Ben Zimmer: “These days, ‘special sauce’ (or sometimes ‘secret sauce’) inevitably comes up whenever someone is describing a closely guarded feature that is regarded as crucial to the success of a product or service … But ‘special sauce’ didn’t become truly special until McDonald’s added the Big Mac to its national menu in 1968, after months of secret experiments in its food labs and extensive field testing … Those who came of age in the 1970s can still recite the Big Mac ingredient list by heart: ‘two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame-seed bun’.”

“As a mnemonic and earworm, the jingle was extremely effective, and it also helped launch a more figurative meaning of ‘special sauce,’ for key ingredients beyond the world of burgers … Meanwhile, it turns out that the Big Mac special sauce isn’t such a closely guarded secret after all: A 2012 YouTube video by a McDonald’s executive chef revealed that the sauce could be made at home with mayonnaise, pickle relish, mustard and a few other condiments.”

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