Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

As 2011 comes to a close, it's time to reflect on the year. Today's post marks my 52nd blog entry for the year, and my 132nd post since I started writing 10 Items or Less in March 2010.

When I started this blog, my goals were simple: to maintain a personal journal of what I was learning in the food and beverage consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry and to become a part of this dynamic business. Today, I am proud to say that I have achieved both these goals.

By blogging twice a week in 2010 and once a week in 2011, I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge regarding the food and beverage CPG industry. I worked hard to understand the challenges, issues, and advancements within the business, and was able to use this experience to better prepare me for entering the field. In October, I accepted an amazing position at a top-notch beverage company, utilizing my public relations background.

So far, the job has been incredible. I am grateful for the fulfilling work I get to do every day, the amazing coworkers that have taught me so much already, and the unbelievable opportunities that await me as I start – what I believe will be – a lifelong career.

That said, the work is indeed challenging; the issues are indeed demanding; and the advancements are indeed extraordinary. The workload leaves little time for me to devote my personal time to updating a blog on a weekly basis.

What does this mean? Well, I'm not quite sure. I love writing my blog, I love reading your comments, and I love continuing my journal to keep track of what I am learning. I promise to share with you what I can, when I can. That might mean that sometimes, my posts are consistently once a week. It may be that posts are once a month. During busy times, I imagine I might have to go several weeks - or months - before I can dedicate my time to a well-researched, well-thought out post. So, please be patient.

I thank you for reading, I thank you for commenting, and I thank you for accompanying me on this journey. May all of your dreams come true in 2012!

Until we meet again...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Favorite Things

Some holiday flavors are available just once a year. So why deny yourself the chance to indulge on delicious seasonal tastes? Once the New Year arrives, you'll have plenty of time to make resolutions to watch your weight! For now, enjoy these Christmas candy facts from the National Candy Association:
  • More than 150 million chocolate Santas will be made for the winter holiday season.
  • The winter holidays represent the biggest boxed chocolate selling season.
  • The winter holidays are the third largest “candy holiday” sales season, behind Halloween and Easter. Valentine’s Day is fourth.
  • Retail sales overall for the winter holiday season account for 20 to 40 percent of annual retail sales.
For now, I'm curious to hear from my readers! Vote for your favorite holiday treat.

*Note: Survey works best in Chrome.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Season of Sweetness

If you've read my blog, you know I have a major sweet tooth! I love to read about new candies and write about the new treats hitting store shelves. Every Christmas, I'm excited to see which new sweets will be available for the holidays, and this year was no exception. Now that Christmas is just weeks away, I've been paying close attention to the new flavors I've seen in stores. Here are just a few:

This year, JELL-O introduced pudding in Gingerbread and Peppermint flavors. End any holiday meal on a high note with these tasty seasonal pudding varieties.

Have you seen this year's Jones Soda Holiday Pack? The 2011 four-pack mix includes Gingerbread, Sugar Plum, Candy Cane, and Pear Tree flavors. The company is known for creating and offering offbeat drinks on a limited basis annually for the holidays.

Candy canes are a Christmas staple, and every year, there are more kinds. New this year are candy canes from WarHeads and Sour Patch, as well as an assortment of branded candy canes from Spangler, in Jelly Belly, Sour Punch, Smarties, and Dum Dum flavors.

Finally, Nabisco has introduced Sweet Cinnamon Wheat Thins this holiday season. A perfect snack this time of year, the cracker has just the right amount of sweet cinnamon goodness to bring Christmas cheer.

Tell me, what holiday flavors do you like? Also, drop me a line and share the new products you've seen this season!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Best of: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas is just weeks away, and while I love holiday programming from How the Grinch Stole Christmas to Christmas Vacation, I enjoy the holiday commercials even more! This week, I'm reviving my post from last year, highlighting the best Christmas commercials the retail and food and beverage industries have to offer.

If you have additional ads you'd like to add to the list, drop me a line with the link so I can check it out! Thanks...and enjoy the holiday season!

While I love all the holiday specials on TV this time of year, I have to admit, there are some Christmas commercials that I wait all year to see. I get very excited to watch these spots and am sometimes happier to see these ads than hear Charlie-in-the Box sing about the Island of Misfit Toys or watch innocent Cindy Loo Who buy into lies from the Grinch. Here are some of my all time favorite holiday commercials:

Eat'n Park is a Pittsburgh area restaurant that's been around since 1949. In 1982, the company wanted to create a holiday card on video to thank the city for their support. The result was an ad that has become a Christmas classic and a holiday staple. This commercial is not just my favorite Christmas commercial, it's my favorite 30-second spot of all time! I hope you like it as much as I do.

Other Christmas commercials from food and beverage consumer packaged goods companies and retailers also do a phenomenal job of adding to the holiday season. Take a look:

Leave a comment and tell me: What are some of your favorite holiday commercials? I hope you get to see them this season! Happy holidays!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not Gone, Not Forgotten

If you're like my household, Thanksgiving is far from over. From turkey and stuffing to gravy and green beans, Thanksgiving's dinner with all its fixings are still leftover in my refrigerator. If you're in need of some creative recipes to get through your remaining feast, food and beverage consumer packaged goods companies have you covered!

Too much turkey? Kraft suggests a tasty Turkey and Broccoli Casserole or Leftover Turkey Soup to get through what's left of your bird.

French's French Fried Onions are a key ingredient to a Thanksgiving favorite – green bean casserole. If you find yourself with leftovers, try some Crunchy Onion Mashed Potatoes or top your double-decker with this recipe for BBQ Turkey Sandwiches.

Campbell's offers ideas, too. Take that leftover turkey and start your morning with a Benedict-Style Turkey Sandwich. Or, end your day with a Quick Turkey Stir-Fry.

Too many potatoes from your Turkey Day? Don't let them go to waste! Use this recipe from Ore-Ida to create a Loaded Baked Potato Soup, or try Country Crock's Garlic Smashed Potato Cakes to use up your spuds. If it's sweet potatoes that are hanging around your fridge, test this Sweet Potato Bread recipe from Bruce's Yams.

Cranberries are a staple at Thanksgiving tables across the country, but when you find yourself with an extra can after the holiday, look to Ocean Spray for unique ways to incorporate the fruit into your next meal. Fruited Rice Pilaf, Red Ribbon Cranberry Coffee Cake, and Cranberry Chutney are just some ways to put the delicious side to good use.

Invite friends over and gobble up these proposed appetizers from Pillsbury. Try Mini Monte Cristos or Basil-Turkey Mini Focaccia Sandwiches for a small bite to eat after a large Thanksgiving meal.

Need more dinner ideas? These tips from Betty Crocker will help you put your turkey and sides to good use!

A week after Thanksgiving, how much of your banquet is still housed in your refrigerator or freezer? Share your inspired Turkey Day recipes and let's make the most of this year's leftovers!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pick Now, Pay Later

The busiest shopping day of the year is upon us! The day after Thanksgiving, known as "Black Friday," kicks off the holiday shopping season with major sales, deals, and steals. This year, stores are opening earlier than ever, with retailers like Best Buy unlocking their doors at midnight to get a jump on holiday transactions. Kohls, Macy's, Sears, and Target are also expected to open at 12 a.m. on Friday.

With holiday sales expected to rise this season to about $450 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, shoppers can count on discounts at stores open morning, noon, and night leading up to Christmas. In addition to extended hours to suit consumers' schedules, retailers are once again offering layaway to allow shoppers to reserve their purchases and make payments leading up to December 25. Here are just some of the holiday offers you can expect to see to make this year's shopping spree a little easier on your wallet:
  • Best Buy introduced layaway this holiday season, whether your purchase is for business, home, or school.
  • Wal-Mart, the nation's largest retailer, has brought back layaway for the first time in five years, and is available for items purchased in the toys, electronics, and fine jewelry departments.
  • Sears will offer free holiday shipping when customers spend at least $99 on its website.
  • Kmart will offer free holiday shipping when customers spend at least $49 on its website.
  • Toys "R" Us is offering loyalty program members 10 percent back on purchases from October 30 to Christmas Eve.
Are you planning to take advantage of the return of layaway, as well as this season's best sales? Tell me how you plan to attack holiday spending this year while staying on budget, and happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Leave a Peppermint Stick for Old St. Nick

Halloween is behind us and the holidays are just around the corner. Head into any grocery store, and you'll see the flavors of the season in full force. From peppermint to gingerbread, the quintessential tastes of Thanksgiving and Christmas are here. Check out these new products, around just for the holiday season.

Little Debbie Peppermint Swiss Rolls are the perfect Christmas treat. A twist on the snack cake's traditional chocolate cake roll, this pastry's crème filling adds a cool hint of peppermint.

Kellogg's doesn't let a holiday, season, or celebration go by without introducing a new Pop-Tart variety. This Christmas, the toaster pastry maker rolled out a limited edition Frosted Sugar Cookie selection, in addition to last year's popular Gingerbread treat.

Want to add a taste of the holidays to your hot cocoa or Rice Krispies treat? Try Kraft Jet-Puffed Gingerbread Mallows for a spiced up kick to your traditional holiday favorites.

Add new Country Crock Spreads to your Thanksgiving table. Available in Pumpkin Spice and Honey, the spreads are the perfect pairing for holiday breads, potatoes, baked goods, and more!

Running out of time to bake cookies for Santa? Look no further than Nestlé Toll House pre-made gingerbread cookie dough. Now available in tubes and tubs, you can make a family of gingerbread men, women, and kids in a fraction of the time.

Enjoy all your holiday cookies with a piping hot cup of coffee, and add the essence of the season with Coffee-mate's limited edition products, including Eggnog Latte, Gingerbread Latte, and Peppermint Mocha.

What are your favorite items to savor during the holiday season? Drop me a line and share your preferred Thanksgiving and/or Christmas indulgences!