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Hit or Miss? ‘Love’ drink, crackers 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.

HITSBumble Bee Albacore Steak EntreesOver the past few years, we’ve seen companies introduce tuna packaged in a pouch instead of a can.  And now here’s an actual albacore tuna steak packaged in a pouch. Already cooked and marinated with spices, all you have to do is heat and serve.  Although it won’t be like having a fresh seafood dinner, the taste is surprisingly good.  Also great for sandwiches and adding to salads. Comes in Lemon & Cracked Pepper, Ginger & Soy, and Mesquite Grilled flavors.  Retails for $2.69.

Late July Organic Cheddar Cheese Sandwich CrackersThis product comes from the same people who started Cape Cod Potato Chips.  Of course, sandwich crackers with cheese have long been a popular snack item commonly found in convenience stores, vending machines, and kids’ lunchboxes.  So, what makes this one special?  They’ve left out the hydrogenated oils, which means no trans fats. Also, they’re made with aged organic cheddar cheese from dairy farms where healthy cows eat organic feed and are never given hormones or antibiotics. The result is a delicious snack without the “junk.” Retails for $2.89 to 3.59.

CONSUMER-NOMINATED HITArizona Diet Green Tea Here’s what Lucy E. from Rocky Mountain, N.C., had to say about this product:  “The antioxidants in green tea are so good for you, and this tea, sweetened with a hint of honey, tastes great but has almost no carbs, no fat, no sugar, and no calories.  It is much lower in caffeine than regular tea, too.  Drink for your health.”  Retails for $1.39 for a 20-ounce bottle.  Thanks, Lucy!  Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way.

MISS
Turn On Love DrinkThe makers of this Red Bull-type energy drink are claiming that it has an aphrodisiac effect — and even offer a money-back guarantee (though we wonder how they would verify whether it actually worked or not!).  We think they’re going too far. The drink, which contains ginseng, ginkgo biloba, guarana, schizandra, taurine and caffeine, is actually a little superior to your average energy beverage, but we’re not sure that it truly has the ability to enhance your love life.  What may put a kick in your step is the caffeine and the 28 grams of sugar, but selling it as a "love" drink takes things into the realm of old-fashioned lotions and potions sold from a pushcart. And at $3.60 for a small can, the price is quite a turn-off.

CONSUMER-NOMINATED MISSBanquet Crock Pot ClassicsHere’s what Amy N. from Rochester, N.Y., had to say about this product: “I tried this a few months ago. Not good at all. There was almost no meat in the package. Package says serves four, but [there] didn’t seem to be enough. The flavor was chicken and dumplings. The dumplings were a ravioli-shaped dough that was like eating raw dough. There weren’t even many vegetables floating in the ‘cream of chicken sauce.’ Just terrible. I wrote the company and they sent me a coupon for future Banquet products.”  Retails for $5.99.  Thanks, Amy!  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 SupermarketGuru.com Tote Bag! You can also visit his Web site at .