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Hit or Miss? Aioli sauce, root beer and more

Every Wednesday, "Today" Food Editor Phil Lempert reviews some of  the new items hitting a supermarket near you. This week: Aioli sauce, root beer and more.

It takes a lot for a food product to succeed. In fact, out of more than 30,000 new food items that were introduced in 2003, less than 5 percent were hits. (And less than 10 percent of all new products are still on supermarket shelves three years after they launch.) To help you avoid spending money on the likely failures, here are this week’s Hits and Misses:

HITS

RedBone Alley Aioli SauceIn 1993, Dale and Leslie Barth opened the RedBone Alley Restaurant and Bar in South Carolina specializing in the region's cuisine.   With the success of the restaurant came the launch of their signature aioli sauces. (Aioli, basically a mayonnaise and garlic mixture, originated in the south of France.)  Developed to marinate seafood, chicken, beef and a whole lot more, this product tastes great on just about anything. On top of that, it is USDA-certified organic. The only thing you'll have to watch out for is not eating too much! With 130 calories and 14g of fat per serving, all but skinny minis should eat in moderation and enjoy!  Flavors are Wasabe, Roasted Garlic, Orange Curry, Tarragon Thyme, Sundried Tomato, Smoky Chipotle, Lemon Peppercorn, and Sun Dried Tomato.  Retails for $3.99/10 oz bottle. www.redbonefoods.com

This bread comes packaged in brown paper, giving the vibe as if it came fresh from a deli.  And, the bread lives up to first impressions. Soft and tasty, it’s slow-baked and unlike many of the more commercial breads in the supermarket, Baker’s Inn does not contain any high fructose corn syrup. Nutritionally speaking, it's about the same as other breads when it comes to calories, fat, and sodium. The big difference is that it has more than double the protein (5g as opposed to 2g in other brands). We popped this bread in the toaster, and the results are even more pleasing, particularly the Raisin Wheat. Other flavors are 100% Whole Wheat, Honey Wheat, Seven Grain, Honey Whole Wheat, Harvest Multi-Grain, and Wheat & Fiber. Retails for $2.99. http://www.bakersinnbreads.com/

Mentos Newcharge GumFrom the makers of Mentos (and those cheesy commercials we love to hate) comes a new breath-freshening gum. This gum is strong!  Although the package recommends chewing up to five pieces at a time — which makes sense since the pieces are so small — one piece will make your mouth pucker.  The label says "chew with caution," and in this case the marketing hype true! Think of it as a good value — if fresh breath is what you're after, you’ll need less that the usual amount of gum. The downside is a mouthwash taste, but after coffee in the morning, it will more than likely do the job. Flavors are Fresh Charge and Cool Charge.  Retails for $.99. www.us.mentos.com/new_charge.htm

CONSUMER NOMINATED HIT

Virgil's Root BeerHere's what Donna Hoaglin from Concord, Michigan, had to say about this product: "It is delicious old-fashioned root beer. All natural, no harmful additives, and no corn syrup. I'm allergic to corn, and this is one of the only two corn-free sodas I have found. I highly recommend it to people who have corn allergy and to anyone who wants a great tasting root beer." Thanks, Donna! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way!  Other flavors are China Cola, Original Ginger Brew, Extra Binger Brew, Premium Binger Brew, Raspberry Ginger brew, Spiced Apple Brew, Cranberry Raspberry Ginger. Lemon Guava , Orange Pineapple Ginger, and Strawberry Kiwi Ginger. Retails for $9 for a 12-pack of 12 oz bottles or $1.29 per 12 oz bottle. http://www.reedsgingerbrew.com/


MISS

Pria Carb SelectFrom the makers of PowerBar comes yet another new nutrition bar for low-carb dieters. (More than 1,000 low-carb products were introduced just in 2003!) The problem with most low-carb products is that they don't taste that great, coupled with the fact that many nutrition bars contain ingredients that are hardly "nutritional." And we just keep wondering who’s eating this stuff?  So, bottom line: how does this one do? As far as taste, it's pretty appealing and doesn't attempt imitating the taste of a sugary candy bar.  So far, so good. But — and here's the problem with this product, as with most “low-carb” foods — the label is misleading.  It claims to have only 2g of "impact carbs."  There are (as yet) no FDA labeling regulations with respect to carbohydrates, and "impact carbs" is not exactly an industry standard.  When you look at total carbs on the nutritional panel, you'll see that total carbs are actually 21g, which, no matter how they try to promote "impact carbs," does not mean this is a low-carb product. Flavors are Caramel Nut Brownie, Cookies 'N Caramel, and Peanut Butter Caramel Nut.  Suggested retail price is $1. www.powerbar.com/Products/Pria/Flavors/main.asp?pt=cs

Phil Lempert is Food Editor of the “Today” show. He welcomes questions and comments — as well as nominations for “hits” and “misses” in this column — which can be sent to phil.lempert@nbc.com. If he selects your nomination for publication, he’ll send you a SupermarketGuru.com Tote Bag! You can also visit his website at www.supermarketguru.com.