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.
Vino de Milo Mediterranean Pinot Grigio Gourmet Sauce The usual question people have about wine is which one to pair with your entrée. But, how about what wine to have IN your entrée? Cooking with wine is an excellent way to enhance flavors, and this company does the work for you. These gourmet sauces combine various ingredients with selected wines for topping fish, pasta, chicken, and more. The price is going to seem a bit high if you compare it to most pasta sauces in the supermarket, but it is certainly easier (and probably cheaper) than buying all of those ingredients separately. Oh … and they are delicious. Retails for $8.48 for 25 ounces. Other varieties are Bombay Cabernet, Portobello Shiraz, Tuscan Merlot, North African Pinot Noir, and Spicy North African Pinot Noir.
CONSUMER-NOMINATED HITSmart Balance Light Microwave Popcorn Here’s what Amanda L. from Hoboken, N.J., had to say about this product: “This is a great new healthy version of microwave popcorn. Not only is it low in fat and high in fiber, but it contains no hydrogenated oils (which are common in other microwave popcorn). It also claims it can help improve cholesterol. It tastes great and pops up perfect with not too many unpopped kernels.” Thanks Amanda! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way. Retails for $2.99.
Rap SnacksOut of the top 50 artists on the 2004 Billboard Music Charts, 15 were rappers. The kids love it! So, why not create a snack food packaged with a rapper’s face on the front? Well, that’s just what this company has been doing since 1994, and last year the company reported sales of three million bags of chips and other snacks per week! Their newest addition to the line is Bad Boy recording artist Chopper, who gained popularity on P. Diddy's MTV reality show "Making the Band." But let’s talk about the actual food — in this case, pork rinds. If you don’t know what a pork rind is, it’s basically pig skin fried in lard. And while low-carb fanatics praise them up and down for their zero-carb content and high protein, a 1-ounce bag of Rap Snacks pork rinds (2 servings) contains about 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 24mg of cholesterol, and 520mg of sodium. So although it may be in low in carbs and sugar, as a snack for growing teens (and that’s who’s going to buy Rap Snacks!) it definitely counts as poor nutrition. Retails for $0.25-0.35/1 oz.
Simply Asia Soy Ginger Noodle Bowl In a SupermarketGuru consumer taste panel conducted last September, readers were asked what types of cuisines they eat on a regular basis. Fifty-two percent said Chinese, 16 percent said Japanese, and 16 percent said Thai, suggesting that Americans truly have a taste for Asian foods. So products like this one — a noodle bowl comes with all the ingredients you need, down to the bowl and fork — would seem to be a good idea (and is certainly easier than shopping for specialty ingredients and making it yourself). Here’s the problem, though: They list one bowl as TWO servings, which is hardly enough and, in those two servings, you’re going to get 1224 mg of sodium, 420 calories, 80 g of carbohydrates, and 18 g of sugar! All that, and it doesn’t taste all that great. Retails for $3.09.
CONSUMER-NOMINATED MISSAquafina FlavorSplash Here’s what Michelle S. from Plainfield, Ill., had to say about this product: “They seem to want to position this with Glaceau's SmartWater (so far, the only fruit-flavored water I can find that doesn't taste artificial), but they fail miserably. The artificial flavoring and sweetener leave a terrible aftertaste, and the initial taste isn't that much better. Cheap Kool-Aid for adults. I purchased a bottle hoping it wouldn't be another Fruit2O, but annoyingly, it was the exact same thing, and I didn't get past the second sip.” Thanks Michelle! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way. Retails for $1.39 for a 20-ounce bottle.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . If he selects your nomination for publication, he’ll send you a SupermarketGuru.com Tote Bag! You can also visit his Web site at .