Wednesday, June 29, 2011


One of the best parts of summer is spending time in the movie theater. Mega blockbusters send audiences flocking to theaters all season long. To keep these feature films top of mind, many studios team up with food and beverage consumer packaged goods companies for mutually beneficial sponsorships. Shoppers can bring their favorite on-screen characters into their homes through a variety of snacks.

Take for example, Disney's Cars 2, released in theaters nationwide on June 24. Characters from the animated Pixar flick can be found on a variety of products lining store shelves. This summer, packages of Nestlé's Juicy Juice brand are highlighting the movie's cartoon cars, and consumers can visit the company's website to vote for their favorite animated character and play games related to the picture.

Kellogg's is also getting in on the Cars 2 act. The company's specially marked participating products contain codes shoppers can collect and redeem online for prizes related to the movie. Items include Kellogg's cereals like Froot Loops, Corn Pops, and Apple Jacks; Eggo Waffles, Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars, and a variety of Keebler crackers and cookies.

But that's not all! Kraft Macaroni & Cheese boxes are currently featuring a Cars 2 promotion, and its Jet-Puffed Marshmallows are available this summer in car shapes for the film's launch.

Not to be outdone, Pirate's Booty, a healthy, baked rice and corn puff snack, is offering limited edition 7 ounce bag promoting Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The Disney movie hit cinemas May 20.

Finally, Harry Potter fans are anxiously awaiting the last installment of the wizard's adventures. The film enters theaters in just a few weeks. No doubt we'll see more Harry Potter food items in stores before the movie comes out July 15. Remember Jelly Belly's BeanBoozled jelly beans? The candies mixed flavors such as rotten egg and moldy cheese in with regular flavors like coconut and peach.

What movie tie-ins do you remember most? Drop me a line and tell me more!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lazy Days of Summer

Summer has officially arrived, and with it comes new drinks, snacks, and foods to keep you cool all season long! Here are just some of the new products you'll find on store shelves in the coming months.

Ever have difficulty stacking your chocolate and marshmallow on a graham cracker to create the perfect s'more? Not anymore! Kraft has the perfect solution with Jet-Puffed StackerMallows. These flat marshmallows make it easier than ever to construct a delicious s'more to prepare in the microwave or over a campfire in just seconds. More time to enjoy summer!

Summer is also the right time to enjoy long days by the pool with ice cream in hand. To cool down, try Unilever's Magnum Bars. The popular treat debuted in the U.S. earlier this year, but has been a staple in the U.K. since 1987. Wrapped in a thick chocolate shell, the premium ice cream on a stick is the world's top individual frozen dairy snack. In flavors like Double Caramel, Double Chocolate, Classic, Almond, White, and Dark, you can try a different variety practically every day of the week!

Stay hydrated in the hot weather by adding zing to your ordinary H2O. MiO Liquid Water Enhancer from Kraft is one way to do just that. The sugar-free, caffeine-free, calorie-free flavor booster is available in Berry Pomegranate, Fruit Punch, Mango Peach, Peach Tea, Sweet Tea, and Strawberry Watermelon. Add as much or as little MiO as you want to create a personal beverage with as much or as little taste as you wish.

Nothing epitomizes childhood more than Oreo cookies, and this summer, Nabisco is introducing its Triple Double Oreo. The triple-decker chocolate cookie contains three wafers with two layers of filling, one each of chocolate and vanilla.

What fun indulgences are you looking forward to this summer? Leave me a note and tell me what you think of these fun, new summer items!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Summer is here and baseball season is in full swing! For some, a night at the ballpark is all about taking in the game. For others, the focus is on the food and the delicious finds throughout the stadium. Food companies are making it easier, though, for consumers to bring tasty baseball fare into their homes.

For example, Los Angeles Dodgers fans and national food critics alike agree that Dodger Dogs are some of the best hot dogs in the nation. Once found only at Dodger Stadium, today, Dodger Dogs are available at grocery stores throughout Southern California thanks to food manufacturer Farmer John. In Minneapolis/St. Paul, pick up Twins Dogs – the official hot dog of the Minnesota Twins – at your local market from Schweigert Meats. Finally, Cloverdale proudly supplies the Mariner Dog to Seattle Mariners fans, both at Safeco Field and at local supermarkets.

Need to top your dog? Look no further than stadium mustard! Cleveland claims to have not one, but two brands of famous stadium mustard enjoyed by Indians fans across the state and throughout the country: Authentic Stadium Mustard and Bertman Ball Park Mustard.

What would America's pastime be without peanuts and Cracker Jack? It's Hampton Farms that provides roasted and salted nuts to your city's sporting venue. And just how did Cracker Jack (now owned by Frito-Lay) become synonymous with baseball? Check out this fun story for a complete historical explanation!

What about you? Leave a message and tell me about the baseball foods you love to chow down on at the stadium and in your home!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sugar Rush

It's the sweetest month of the year! June is National Candy Month, a time to celebrate the sweet treats we know and love. With every American eating an average of 20.7 pounds of candy each year, it's only fitting we devote an entire month to delicious sugary sweets.

Last month, a record 556 exhibitors debuted their products to more than 14,000 industry professionals during the National Confectioners Association's Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago. Some new products introduced at this event you can expect to see in the coming year include TicTac flavors like Strawberry Fields, Cherry Cola, and Lemon Lime Fizz; Hershey's Air Delight Kisses; and Extra Dessert Delights gum from Wrigley in taste sensations including Apple Pie, Orange Crème Pop, and Smooth Mint.

In honor of National Candy Month, chew on these fun facts:
  • Saltwater taffy was invented in Atlantic City in 1883.
  • About 65 percent of American candy brands have been around for more than 50 years.
  • The Snickers candy bar was named after the Mars family's favorite horse.
  • Cotton candy was originally called fairy floss.
  • It takes 7 to 21 days to make a single Jelly Belly jellybean.
  • Ice cubes help remove gum from clothing.
What are some of your favorite candies? Whether your preferred confection is old or new, leave a message and let's commemorate National Candy Month!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Best of: 10 Questions or Less with Chris Garboski

For the past few weeks, I've been reposting my favorite entries since I started my blog in March 2010. One of the reasons I started my blog was to learn more from the professionals in the food and beverage CPG industry. I've been very fortunate to be able to speak with the best in the field, and today, I am revisiting an inspirational interview from Chris Garboski of Nestle USA. Be on the lookout for more Q&As to come as I continue to learn more about this ever-evolving business from industry pros.

Every chance I can get, I want to share career profiles of successful professionals in the food and beverage CPG industry. This week, meet Chris Garboski, Head of Retail Corporate Kitchen at Nestle USA. Chris is an industry expert with 18 years of CPG experience. Follow her on Twitter @NestleFoodie and be sure to check out the company's blog and latest recipes at

1. How did you get started in this industry? I have been passionate about food for as long as I can remember! Landing at Nestle was part luck, part skill. I was able to get my foot in the door due to a family friend who was on the Nestle marketing team. I was introduced to the Test Kitchen manager, and the rest is history. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science and Nutrition from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. (I studied food as well as interior design). I also attended several culinary courses through CIA in Napa. (That was fun but hard work!) People often ask me why I have stayed with one company for so long, and my answer is simple…every day is different. My position allows me the freedom to be very creative, and that is what drives me.

2. Describe your typical workday. I typically get into the office by 6:30 in the morning, head to our in-house gym for a quick workout, and then head to our test kitchen and begin my day. I get most of my assignments through our marketing teams and a few from corporate. On any given day, I could be working on several different assignments. Nearly all work involves creating recipes for online, video, packaging, or for use by the press (food editors). Before any of these recipes get published, they are put through a series of tests to confirm their accuracy. I also do the food styling for most of our recipes (this is where my design background comes in handy). This isn't a daily task, but it is something I do on a frequent basis.

3. What makes your company a great place to work? Nestlé USA is a part of Nestlé S.A. in Vevey, Switzerland – the world's largest food company with a focus on Nutrition, Health and Wellness. So, I do have a nice portfolio of products to work with and I like the direction the company is going. Having said that, the people are what make it great. There is so much energy and passion here. And the passion isn’t just coming from the "foodies" in the kitchen – our marketing and sales teams are equally passionate. I also have an extremely supportive boss. Seven years ago, I became a mom to triplets. Nestle (and my boss) offered me the flexibility to telecommute a day or two per week so that I could find a better balance between work and family. This is HUGE for a mom. And let me tell you, Nestle gets far more out of me because of this flexibility and their trust in me. (I am getting choked up as I write this. I am truly fortunate!)

4. How do you keep up with industry trends? I attend several trend presentations each year (online and in person), subscribe to trend reports and pantry studies, follow talent on Twitter, attend culinary conferences (such as the International Association of Culinary Professionals), read a lot of food publications, talk with chefs and culinary professionals, and visit restaurants. I also do most of our prop shopping for photo shoots, so I get a good idea of color and houseware trends.

5. What skills are critical to success in your job? Understanding our consumers and current food trends is essential. If we don’t understand our consumers (their skill set, the ingredients they are comfortable using, or the even the equipment they have in their kitchen), we can’t successfully develop a recipe. Good communication and writing skills are very important, as is a solid understanding of food, nutrition and how to put together a recipe.

6. What keeps you in this industry? Simply put, my passion for food and nutrition keeps me in this industry.

7. What is your favorite snack food? Oh, I can't limit to just one. Fresh tangelos, fresh or dried mangoes and Greek yogurt with honey are at the top of my list. I also have a soft spot for toasted walnuts, dark chocolate and green tea.

Thank you for your time, Chris! Your career is truly amazing and you are an inspiration to aspiring CPG pros!