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Hit or Miss? Tuna spread, chips 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.

Erin Baker's Breakfast Cookie For many Americans, breakfast means grabbing something quick and racing to work or school (or skipping it altogether). Here’s something a little different … a breakfast cookie. This all-natural product provides a good source of fiber (6g) and is made without trans fats, preservatives, and artificial colors or flavors. And they taste great! Kudos to this company for creating a product that serves consumers’ needs by being convenient, but at the same time is healthy, great-tasting and reasonably priced. Seasonal flavors are Double Chocolate Chunk Cherry and Cranberry Orange, and there are 12 year-round flavors, which include Oatmeal Raisin, Double Chocolate Chunk, Fruit & Nut, Peanut Butter, and Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk. Suggested retail price per cookie is $1.59 to $1.69.

Laguna Tuna Gourmet SpreadWell, we predicted that 2005 was going to be the year of the Omega 3s … and it’s already starting! Last month, the FDA announced that it would allow the new qualified health claim specifically related to cardiovascular health and conventional foods that contain eiscosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids to be used by food producers in promoting their products. Not only is this new product high in these important essential fatty acids, but it is absolutely delicious! Made with all-natural ingredients, this tuna spread can be used for pizza, dips, wraps, pasta and appetizers. Definitely worth a try. Retails for $4.45.

Hempola Omega-3 Caesar Dressing Another Omega-3 product! In a quick poll we found that 90 percent of our consumer panel expects to buy more foods that are labeled high in Omega-3s. Well, this one actually includes it in the name! This Canadian company is the maker of several hemp-based products including salad dressings. What’s most impressive about this product is not just the level of Omega-3s, but that it is a hemp-based food that actually tastes good. Retails for $5.99.

Lay's Dill Pickle ChipsHere's what Grace from Waukegan, Ill,. had to say about this product: "The combination may sound unappealing, but the taste is sensational! I crunched into one of these chips and I couldn’t eat just one." Thanks, Grace! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way. Two 3/4-ounce bags for 99 cents.

VegenaiseHere's what Valerie G. had to say about this product: "Egg-free, cholesterol-free, dairy-free. This product tastes as good as regular mayonnaise, but since I have to watch my cholesterol, it’s a product I can actually use." Thanks, Valerie! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way. Retails for $2.99 for 16 ounces or $4.29 for 32 ounces.

Atkins Crunchy Almond Crisp CerealHere's what Linda S. from Elkmont, Ala., had to say about this product: "Being on a low-carb diet, cereal is one of the foods I miss most. Atkins Crunchy Almond Crisp cereal is amazingly low in carbs — 8 grams total for a 2/3 cup, with 5 grams dietary fiber, leaving a net carb count of only 3 grams! It's also low in fat and high in protein, with 15 grams per serving. The list of ingredients is impressive: the flakes are mostly soy protein, it contains no trans-fats, and no sugar or sugar alcohol (it's sweetened with Splenda). The cereal tastes pretty good, although you can definitely taste the soy (so if you hate soy you won't like this cereal).

"You may be wondering why I rate this product a ‘miss.’ Well, even all its positive aspects can't overcome this major problem: Just a tiny bit of liquid immediately transforms this cereal into a soggy pile of mush. Yes, it is crispy when dry, but if you like your cereal with milk (or low-carb milk substitute), you'll be eating something with a texture similar to cold oatmeal. Within seconds of adding milk, the flakes are swelled and soggy. I ate one small bowl with milk, the rest of the box will be eaten dry. It's hard to believe they actually named this product "Crunchy Almond Crisp," because it's anything but crisp!"  Retails for $5.99.  Thanks, Linda! 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 Tote Bag! You can also visit his Web site at .