Archive for April, 2009

Running Moonshine…

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Moonshine Whisky Still
Creative Commons License photo credit: CJ Sorg

I’ve only had the “pleasure” of drinking moonshine a few times in my life, but they’ve certainly been interesting. The first was at a farm where old peaches took on new life, and it knocked me out cold. The most recent, was at a wedding in Greece where a guest from Crete introduced us to a very mellow, but potent, grape-made version.

While the almost wine-like Crete spirit convinced me that not all moonshine tastes like lighter fluid, I still equate it more with the Duke boys than upscale bars and lounges. So, you can imagine my surprise when I recently read that distilleries are bottling the stuff and charging premium prices.

[That's not to say that homemade moonshine is not still strong in this country, and elsewhere, by the way. Just type in "moonshine" on the Google News tab and you'll find plenty of articles on arrests for possession and home distilling.]

Now that moonshine is going legit – with brands line Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine, the exclusive spirit of the 2009 GRAMMY gift bags – we’ll keep our eyes peeled to see if this is the latest in an interesting line of recent bar trends…

One last Earth Day tid-bit…

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Sun Chips Compostable Bag

Check out Frito-Lay’s Earth Day surprise – a soon to be released compostable bag for the Sun Chips line. It seems that empty chips bags on freeway on-ramps aren’t quite in line with the brand’s image.

What an exciting package innovation! The company vows to launch the new bags, which reportedly compost in 14 weeks, on Earth Day 2010.

To learn more about the new bags, and to see a simulation video, visit Frito-Lay’s website. OR, pick up this week’s copy of People Magazine for a sample of the packaging to try out in your own compost bin!

Green – the color of Spring (and Summer, and Fall, and…)

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

I love green. It’s been my favorite color since I could identify one. And now, green is very “in.” From fashion, to housewares, to bridal magazines – it’s this year’s IT color. But, green’s popularity has more to do with what the color represents, than simply a pleasant appearance.

Lately, an interesting question has been raised to me on more than one occasion. And that is whether, with the state of the economy, “this green thing” will stick.

Well, let me first state, that as an avid-as-possible environmentally-minded gal, it just plain has to! There is just too much waste going on out there. But, I’m sure you’re looking for real facts. Well, here we go…

In a recent survey by SCA Tissue, results showed that despite current economic conditions, purchasers of “green” products are staying put! Sixty-seven percent are buying the same, and 26% are buying more. In fact, only eight percent are reportedly buying less “green.”

In an Advertising Age article from earlier this week, green marketing was reported to be “recession-proof,” and it is theorized that new growth is attributed more to less traditional users. The article also notes that despite a lack in double-digit growth in organic foods, as we’ve seen in years past, there was still a 5.6% year over year growth in December.

These are just a few of the helpful tidbits you’ll find in the news this week. Add “green” to your Google Alerts and you’ll get plenty to fill your inbox! What are some other ways you can keep up on the latest “green” developments? One great e-newsletter that we’ve found is Ideal Bite - “bite sized ideas for light green living.” And remember, it’s not too late to start living greener. Check out EarthDay.gov for ideas.

Happy Earth Day!!!!

World of Flavor

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Last week I received an email from Lonely Planet, listing their top travel picks, and it got me thinking about my own travelin’ ways. Like many families, the hubby and I are cutting back this year, and traveling is, sadly, on the back burner.

What I’m really going to miss, though, is being able to sample new foods, or even foods that I’ve tried here at home, in their authentic environment. Call me crazy, but the best cup of tea I ever had was in London, the best gyro was in Athens, and the best salpicon in Mexico City.

Enjoying afternoon tea in London...

Enjoying afternoon tea in London...November 2006.

For years, we’ve been saying that consumers are looking for more authentic ethnic flavors, and this year it couldn’t be truer. With more people making the best of the “staycation,” consumers are looking for ways to create exotic experiences in their own homes. Using food to recreate those experiences is not only cheaper than, say redecorating the living room in a Moroccan motif, but it is also attainable for everyone.

Personally, when I feel like reminiscing about Greece, I grab some Wegmans Greek Marinade and tzatziki from their Mediterranean Bar, grill up some chicken, pour the Ouzo, and make a cucumber salad. Those little supermarket helpers certainly make the experience more authentic to me. Having the ability to control the ingredients, adjust them from memory, but still purchase the products that make them unique – it’s a win-win.

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece.....August 2008

For new product developers, especially those interested in ethnic flavor, it’s a good idea to keep up on the latest travel trends. They can really clue you in to future destinations, and possibly future flavor trends. How do you do that? Well, I can’t give away all of my secrets, but I do have one helpful clue. Check out Lonely Planet’s Top 20 Bestsellers for their top selling travel books by destination. And, keep in mind, Lonely Planet serves the global community, not just the North American traveling crowd.

Then, go home, make a Piña Colada, sit in the back yard, and try to imagine that it’s the Caribbean.

Do Regional Favorites Translate?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Philadelphia Flyers

A wise man once said (or, maybe it was a travel show host), that the best way to get to know a foreign city is to attend a sporting event. This week, Nathalie Pauleau-Larrey, our Color Engineer from David Michael Europe, is visiting the Philadelphia office. And last night, Danielle and I took her to a Flyers game.

Danielle (left) and Nathalie at the Phuladelphia Flyers game

Danielle (left) and Nathalie at the game

Since Nathalie is from the French countryside, an American-style sports arena was a first for her. She was amazed by everything – from the crowds, to the merchandise, but especially the food. Well, we wouldn’t be proud ambassadors if we didn’t introduce her to a few local favorites. So we enjoyed a carb-laden feast of crab fries and soft pretzels (with yellow mustard, of course). (Not cheesesteaks? You ask. This isn’t her first trip to Philly).

Nathalie and I enjoying our pretzels at the Philadelphia Flyers game!

Nathalie and I enjoying our pretzels!

My non-Philly readers are probably wondering, “what in the heck are crab fries?” They’re a concoction developed by local sports bar Chickie’s & Pete’s, and they’re delicious. You’d be surprised to find out that there’s no actual crab in said fries. Just crispy French fries, seasoning (Old Bay?) and American cheese dip….mmmmm…

The whole meal got me thinking about favorite regional foods. There’s been a few shows on the Food Network devoted to roadside bars and diners in the U.S., and the wacky things people eat there. And on the travel channel, food specific programs, as well as the traditional travel fare, take on more foreign regional specialties.

But, do these always translate? Well, it depends. In this country, for example, we’ve come to know many regional favorites nationwide. Philly Cheesesteak is available as a Domino’s pizza topping. And Kansas City BBQ can be found in Vermont.

Other favorites, however, don’t catch on. I read about Kool-Aid marinated pickles, a Southern tradition, a few years back. And, that was about it… Now, deep-fried pickles? That’s another story.

Similarly, the occasional regional favorite makes it beyond the country of origin. Take cheesesteaks again. We’ve found Philly Cheesesteak flavored potato chips in such far away places as Japan!

With a focus on regional authenticity on restaurant menus, both in domestic and international foods, it will be interesting to see what has legs, and what doesn’t.

After all, not everything can become a worldwide phenomenon – sometimes favorites are more special when they stay local.

[P.S. - The Flyers won 2-1, and made the playoffs.]

2009 Philadelphia Flyers Winning Game

No Foolin’

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

My sister and I are preparing for a little weekend getaway. I’m going through my usual pre-vacation ritual – washing laundry, restocking toiletries, and…printing coupons? That last one’s pretty new, but I’m stocking up. Two-for-one entrees…20% in-store discounts…free dessert. Heck, we even got the hotel room as part of a special promotion! The thing is, I’m not the only one shopping deals.

After the Super Bowl, Denny’s Restaurants gave away free Grand Slam breakfasts to diners. Today, the restaurant chain announced a buy-one-get-one-free Grand “Slamwich” giveaway for April 8th. Nope, this isn’t an elaborate April Fool’s joke – they’re at it again!

According to the Wall Street Journal, the last promotion brought in two million customers between the hours of 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. on a Tuesday. Normal traffic for those hours is typically only 200,000.

Other restaurants are increasing value for their customers too. Rumor has it that U.S. locations of Tim Horton’s gave out free sandwiches at lunch-time today. IHOP is running an all-you-can-eat pancake promotion. And those brown-bagging their lunches daily may be easily tempted by the $5 lunch deals a number of fast-casuals are promoting.

The Wall Street Journal article brings up a good point, though. Will consumers get too accustomed to these low-price deals? While they may eventually lose that full-price phobia, their expectations of value will certainly increase.

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