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Hit or Miss? Meringues, chili 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.

Miss Meringue Minis
These bite size gourmet cookies are fun!  All the varieties are fat free or low fat (toasted coconut, 1.5 grams). You don’t have to worry about trans fats, and they are dairy free.  But, the best part about these cookies are the flavors — very chocolate, chocolate raspberry, toasted coconut, very minty, mochaccino, orange, very vanilla, mandarin grapefruit and pina colada! They make great party snacks and retails for $4.50/5.1 ounce.

Tom's All Natural Cookie Dough
Here’s what Suz S. from Ridgewood, N.J. had to say about this product: “They are easy to make (already rolled and portioned into 12 servings) and way too easy to eat.  They have nothing artificial in them and no trans fats or hydrogenated oils either.  They are probably the best chocolate chip cookies I've had, bar none.”  Retails for $4.99.  Thanks Suz!  Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the

Stagg Chili
Forget about the can — this chili is now packaged in a tetra pack, just like juices, making it more convenient, and in our opinion it actually tastes fresher. No preservatives is the good news, but the chili itself still contains way too much sodium — 1,060 milligrams per serving — and way too much fat — 22 grams, including 1 gram of trans fat. Retails for $2.29.

Phillips Seafood Penne Pesto with Crab AE Phillips opened his first crab processing plant on Hoopers Island, MD around 1916. Now six restaurants and a full line of supermarket products later, they are introducing a new line of  microwavable seafood entrees. This variety is tasty, but it seems as if Phillips is missing the bigger opportunity. Many of us are switching to seafood as a healthier alternative, and pasta with pesto, while delicious, takes away from the health attributes of the seafood.  With 420 calories, 15 grams of fat, a whopping 54 grams of carbohydrates, 850 milligrams of sodium and partially hydrogenated oil, we can only hope that this brand reformulates and creates some crab based products that are more nutritious.  Suggested retail price is $

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