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Hit or Miss? Brown rice, sundaes and more

Every week, "Today" show food editor Phil Lempert reviews some of the new items hitting supermarket shelves near you.

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.

Lundberg’s RiceXpress
As regular readers of Wednesday Food will know, the next big diet trend is the Glycemic Index, a tool originally developed for diabetics to control blood sugar (think slow carb rather than low carb). And that’s good news for brown rice, which is one food that has a low Glycemic Index rating. Brown rice is excellent in supplying manganese and is a good source of the minerals selenium and magnesium. Lundberg’s new heat-and-serve organic whole grain brown rice is not only a time saver (60 to 90 seconds instead of 35-45 minutes) but also delicious in four premixed flavors, Chicken Herb, Classic Beef, Sesame Teriyaki and Santa Fe Grill. Retails for $2.79.

Feldkamp Pumpernickel Bread German consumers have long been acquainted with whole-grain breads known as "Schwarzbrot" (“black bread”) as a staple part of their diets. These are dense, fiber-rich yet moist breads that are packaged with a special process that adds to the shelf-life (up to six months unopened) without the use of preservatives. They taste great with cheese, sliced deli meats, and mustard. Retails for around $3. Other varieties are Sunflower Seed, Whole Rye, Fitnessbread, Whole Rye with Muesli, Linseed, Three Grain, and Westphalian Pumpernickel.

Milton’s Multi-Grain Crackers
Here’s what Mary G. from Arvada, Colo., had to say about this product: “I purchased Milton’s Multi-Grain Crackers in Original Flavor. They have an excellent flavor and are very light and crispy, yet at the same time they were sturdy enough for the crab salad that I made for a potluck last week. The crackers have no trans-fats and contain no saturated fat. They are also low in sodium and sugar. They are available in four varieties: Original Multi-Grain, Whole Wheat, French Onion, and Garlic & Herb. I will certainly purchase them again.” Retails for $2.89 for one box. Thanks, Mary! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way.

Smuckers Sundae Singles
With each 2.25-ounce individual cup at just 200 calories, this at first seems like a cute little product you’d love to give your kids. But read further and the news doesn’t stay so good. You’ll see 47 grams of total carbs. Worse yet, 32 grams are just from sugars. Yes, they taste good, but no matter how tasty, you have to think seriously about sending these with your kids to school. Flavors are Caramel and Hot Fudge. Retails for $2.19 for a four-pack.

CONSUMER-NOMINATED MISSSpecial K BarHere’s what Diane T. from Colton, Calif., had to say about this product: “I found these bars to be very dry, and they were not enjoyable to eat at all. And be sure to read the ingredients, I was surprised.” Retails for $2.99 for a box of six. Thanks, Diane! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way.

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
. If he selects your nomination for publication, he’ll send you a Tote Bag! You can also visit his Web site at .