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Hit or Miss? Pasta sauce, pad thai 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
Lucini Sicilian Olive and Wild Caper Pasta Sauce From a company built upon the production of fine olive oils comes a pasta sauce that is sure to impress. Made with only fresh and natural ingredients — plum tomatoes, black and green olives, wild capers, onion, basil, and extra virgin olive oil (Lucini’s is one of the best we’ve ever tasted!) — this sauce really tastes like it was homemade by a great Italian cook. It's just hitting shelves now, so don’t expect this sauce to be an easy find. Best bet is to check out the company’s Web site to find supermarkets and specialty shops that carry it. Retails for $8 for a 25.5 ounce jar.

Organic Italian Volcano Tangerine JuiceLike other citrus fruits, tangerines are a good source of vitamin C, folate and beta-carotene. They also contain potassium, magnesium and vitamins B1, B2 and B3. So, if you are like us and are a bit tired of the same-old-orange-juice-for-breakfast routine, try this. Made from Italian tangerines grown near the Mt. Etna volcano in Sicily, this product is certified organic. The taste is a bit tart compared to orange juice but appealing. It’s also great as a mixer. If you love it as much as we do, get that credit card ready — those Italians don’t sell their tangerines for nothing! Retails for $2.89 for 250 ml (about 8 ounces) or $5.19 for 750 ml (about 25 ounces).

Thai Kitchen Original Pad ThaiOne trend we’ve noticed, particularly over the past couple of years, is that people want more flavorful convenience foods. And Thai Kitchen, which offers a full line of convenience foods for those looking for Asian flavors, certainly answers that demand. Their Original Pad Thai is simple to prepare, only taking about 15 minutes to get from the pantry to the table. It’s not the real thing but is certainly acceptable. On the health side, there aren’t any strange artificial ingredients listed, but you will have to deal with 621 mg of sodium per serving. Retails for $2.99.

CONSUMER-NOMINATED HIT
‘No Pudge' Original Fat Free Brownie Mix Here’s what DeeAnn V. from Pleasant Hill, Calif., had to say about this product: “I spotted them on the health isle of the supermarket while shopping for soy-protein powder. I thought I would buy a box and try them. My husband could not tell the difference and loved them! They were the best tasting brownies I've ever tasted and I usually make them from scratch! The flavors available are Original, Mocha and Cappuccino. We tried the original flavor.” Retails for $3.25. Thanks, DeeAnn! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way.

CONSUMER-NOMINATED MISS
Mountain Dew Pitch BlackHere’s what Karen G. from Costa Mesa, Calif., had to say about this product: “When I saw this in the store, I was eager to try it since both the Mountain Dew Code Red and Live Wire are my favorites. But when I got home and tried it, it just tasted awful. The black grape juice that's added to it gave it a bad aftertaste. Tasted more like I was drinking diet soda than regular soda. Thumbs down for me.” Retails for $0.99 Thanks, Karen! 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 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 .