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Hit or Miss? Cajun salsa, Altoids gum and more

Every week, "Today" 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:


Voodoo Bayou Backwoods Magic SalsaThe Louisiana Sauce Factory opened up shop in 1994 and since has been creating products based on the Louisiana tradition called lagniappe — "a little something extra.”  As its state of origin might suggest, this salsa has a Cajun-influenced flavor. The ingredients are pretty simple: tomatoes, pickled jalapeno peppers, vinegar, red peppers, canola oil, garlic, cilantro, spices, salt and lime juice. At only 10 calories per serving, you can be inventive and use instead of adding those toppings that are loaded with sugar, calories and fat to top salads, baked potatoes, and veggies.  Retails for $4.99/16 oz.  Other flavors are Garlic, Sweet Onion, and

If you like Altoids, those very strong British mints, you'll probably enjoy their new gum.  Packaged in a slimmer tin, but similar to the original mint tin, this sugar-free gum is refreshing, not overwhelming and not even really "curiously strong."  The only drawback to this product is that the price is a little high, but that's the same for their mints, and folks still buy them.  It must be that cute little tin!  Retails for $

Vegelicious! Italian Style Meatless MeatballsFor vegetarians (and those concerned about the safety of eating beef), Vegelicious offers a pretty good alternative.  Made with soy protein, these meatless meatballs taste pretty good!  Not like the real thing of course, but good!  Packed with 18g of protein, only 180 calories per serving, and only 7g of fat, you can feel pretty good about eating this product.  However, if you are watching your sodium intake, it does contain 520 mg, which is a quite high.  This is a vegetarian product only, not vegan.  Ingredients do contain Romano cheese for those concerned about consuming dairy


GeniSoy Soy ChipsHere’s what Susan Wilson had to say about GeniSoy Soy Chips. "An excellent snack for women, men, and kids, this light, crispy soy crisp combines the texture and lightness of a rice cake with the nutritional benefit of soy. A great replacement for high-fat, high-cal, hi-carb snacks like potato chips and corn chips. Great with hummus or cottage cheese."  

Thanks, Susan! Your SupermarketGuru Tote bag is on its way! Comes in Rich Cheddar Cheese, Zesty Barbeque, Tangy Salt‘Vinegar, Nacho, Deep Sea Salted, Roasted Garlic & Onion, Creamy Ranch and Apple Cinnamon Crunch. Retails for $2.69 for 3.5


Tumaro's Gourmet Low in Carbs WrapablesAlthough these wrapables taste pretty good, particularly for a product touted as being low-carb, we found some things to be confusing. First of all, the company's Web site states that they make their products with organic ingredients; however, nowhere in on the ingredients list (or anywhere else on the package) is there mention of anything organic.  Another point that the company makes is that their products stay fresh for up to 90 days. That means there is a little help from preservatives.  Most of all, though, they are being opportunistic in marketing these wrapables as low-carb. In particular, they use the "net carbs" method of calculating, which comes up to 6-7g (depending on flavor). But turn the package around and you’ll see that total carbs are 17-18g.  Sure, many people are looking for low-carb alternatives — we're just not sure that this is one.  Retails for $3.29–$

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 website at