Archive for November, 2009

Famous Flops

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Change is good…isn’t it? As food product developers, we’ve learned to tread carefully, with cautionary tales of New Coke and Crystal Pepsi. But sometimes, change just takes time, and a few cautious toe dips in the pool.

Over the weekend, hubby ran across this article outlining 10 famous food flops. Maybe it’s the optimist in me, but I saw most of these products as ahead of their time.

Take the coffee flavored Jell-O for example. Coffee, cappuccino and espresso flavors are extremely dominant now – in fact, according to Mintel, cappuccino is one of the fastest-growing sauce flavors on entrée menus. Maybe it would have been more successful in pudding…

Reddi-Bacon, while a fire hazard, looks like a predecessor to now beloved ready-to-serve bacon. Pepsi A.M. paved the way for any number of energy drinks. Gerber Singles may have been an early inspiration for adult nutritional beverages. And, “I Hate Peas?” Hello, TGI Friday’s String Bean Fries!

Sometimes great ideas are shelved simply because they are ahead of their time. Sometimes it’s the product that needs more development. (Ever hear of McDonald’s Hula Burger? In the 1960’s, this pineapple on a bun topped with cheese was Ray Kroc’s answer to consumers who couldn’t eat meat on Fridays. A year later, the Filet-O-Fish sandwich was born.)

But other times, consumers just need more time to warm up. It’s risky to be innovative. No one wants to come to market second. Then again, it’s even scarier to be first.

By the way…I hear Crystal Pepsi is making a comeback…

Where For Art Thou Roadshow?

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

You know, it’s funny how the Innovation Roadshow is so much like the holidays. We spend all year thinking about it, and planning for it. The month beforehand is a crunch of last minute changes, shopping, cooking, baking, planning and wrapping (well, packing).

And then, in a day, it’s all over.

Well, not totally. There’s the follow-up. The sample requests, the information requests, the surveys, the unpacking and the webinars.

But as I finish that up this week, I have to admit that I am a little sad.

David Michael Flavors 2009 Innovations Roadshow

David Michael Flavors 2009 Innovations Roadshow - Food SamplesEven with all of the extra work that goes into it, the Roadshow is really fun. (Which, I hope, means that it’s even more fun for those who attend!) I really had a great time this year, catching up with old clients, and meeting new ones. I love the chance to interact with everyone that I typically only “see” through email and phone calls.

And then there’s the food – Pie Pops, Mini-Meatloaf Cupcakes, Peanut Butter Plantain Poppers and Lucuma Ice Cream Novelties. And that’s only a few of the almost 30 items we featured this year! (Read about a few more in this article from Philadelphia City Paper.)

It will be odd next week, when we don’t speak about the Roadshow much – but then in just a month’s time, we’ll start the process all over again for 2010!

If you have any questions about the Roadshow and the products that we showed, be sure to contact your account manager, or drop me an email! To see photos, or learn more, click here.

The Farmer in the Dell (a.k.a. New Jersey)

Friday, November 6th, 2009

On a recent and chilly Sunday morning, I joined my fellow farmers’ market volunteers for a field trip. We didn’t head to the museum, or to a matinee. Instead, we literally took to the fields, and visited two of our market farms.

Now, I’ve been to a farm before. I’ve picked my own strawberries; I’ve played with sheep; I’ve even pressed my own apple cider. But somehow, this was different. This time I walked through the fields, and picked the majority of my Sunday dinner from the ground.

It may sound silly to say, but sometimes we get so used to the convenience of buying a pack of spring mix in the store, that we don’t really think of where it comes from. In fact, when our group arrived at the “field of greens” and saw the spread of multi-colored greens before us, almost all of us simultaneously exclaimed, “it actually grows like that?!”

mixed greens

Initially, I was expecting our hosts to bore of explaining how farms work. After all, while it may be a foreign concept to a group of suburban volunteers, this is their everyday life. But, they could not have been more gracious, proud, and genuinely excited to explain every possible detail.

basil field

As “Farmer Flaim” drove us through the fields, we stopped periodically to smell rows of dill, cilantro and basil, or to pick fresh eggplants – traditional, Italian and mini. (Have you ever seen the flower an eggplant grows from? It’s beautiful!) By sight alone, he knew whether fennel, radishes or Swiss chard were ready or not. While, to the rest of us, it all looked the same.

kevin picking radishes

We also visited a flower farm known for sunflowers and gladiolas. Again, the sight of rows of gladiolas in the ground, instead of in a vase, was almost shocking.

field of gladiolas

At the end of the day, our hosts sent us home with three cars filled with fresh produce and flowers, more than our small group could possibly eat. Carrots, cabbage, dill, radicchio and sunflowers – oh my! At home, we shared it with friends, family and neighbors. And let me tell you, hubby and I ate extraordinarily well that week – feasting on salads, potato and leek soup, marinated fennel, and dill new potatoes. Delish!

a full trunk of garden vegetables

Sikking Farms and Flaim Farms of Vineland, New Jersey Produce

Working in the food industry, I get to travel to a number of manufacturing facilities, and I LOVE to learn how my favorite products are made. I truly enjoy seeing the assembly lines and how the containers are filled. (Makes me sound like a bit of a dork, eh?) But once in a while, it’s pretty cool to see where it all begins.

Thank you to Sikking Farms and Flaim Farms of Vineland, New Jersey!!

David Michael & Co. • 10801 Decatur Road • Philadelphia, PA 19154 • 1-800-DM-FLAVORS

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