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Hit or Miss? Oven fries, candy bars 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.

HITS
Sesakiss Vanilla Flavor Sesame Seed Candy Bar
This company has made a candy bar out of a somewhat unusual ingredient: sesame seeds. The result is a nutritious snack — sesame seeds are a very good source of magnesium, protein, calcium and iron — but remember, it’s not going to taste like a candy bar, no matter how much sugar and vanilla flavor you paint onto a sesame seed (which are quite bitter). Still, it tastes quite good and promises to do you good. Other flavors are chocolate, orange, honey, coconut and wild berry. Retails for $0.50.

Alexia Oven Blends FriesDid you know that Americans eat more than 16 pounds of French fries per person annually? It’s definitely one of America’s favorite foods. But our desire for French fries is in a precipitous decline (off five percent at wholesale and 10 percent at retail, according to according marketers NPD Group), owing mostly to health and obesity concerns. Here’s something that might help the French fry decline: Alexia oven fries. The secret lies in a garlic-and-herb sauce that you toss on after they come out of the oven. Making things even better is that they are all-natural and contain no trans fats (unlike most fries you’ll find in the frozen food section). They also contain about half the calories of regular fries. Retails for $2.99-$3.99.

Art BarThis is not only for those who appreciate fine chocolates, but also for the visual art lover (and for those who would like to support art education). The Swiss chocolate itself is top notch and 100 percent organic; the bonus is that each bar features an art reproduction on a collectible card. Ours featured a pastel by a talented 10-year-old, and 10 percent of profits support art education. Varieties are Milk Chocolate, Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts, Dark Chocolate, and Dark Chocolate with Coconut. Retails for $2.25.

CONSUMER-NOMINATED HITAnna Whole Wheat Pasta Here’s what J.C. from Aston, Penn., had to say about this product: “Finally, a great-tasting whole wheat pasta! In excellent packaging, this product is sure to do well. Truly excellent!”  Thanks, J.C.! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way. Retails for $1.49.

CONSUMER-NOMINATED MISSNature's Promise Natural Tortilla ChipsHere’s what Angela B. from Babylon, N.Y., had to say about this product: “I tried them because they have no preservatives. Unfortunately, they are completely bland and tasteless. I may as well have been eating cardboard!” Thanks, Angela! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way. Retails for $2.49.

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 Web site at .