getting fresh: Not lost in translationAll of us have been urged at one point or another to think “outside the box!” Although most of us recognize that the term refers to thinking unconventionally or creatively, I’ve always wondered where this often overused term originated.
While there’s some dispute about who first coined the term, its origins date back to a variation of a puzzle first published in 1914 -- one that involves nine dots positioned in a three-by-three grid. The challenge involves connecting the dots by drawing four straight continuous lines without ever lifting the pencil from the paper.
The solution stems from dismissing the grid’s self-imposed “boundaries” and extending the lines beyond the dots in order to come up with the solution. As we all know, it does take a bit of unfettered thinking to look at familiar concepts, products and/or strategies and come up with different approaches.
This kind of unconventional thinking works well in new product development, although it’s often a rarity in times of reorganization, retrenching and recession. Consequently, it’s both invigorating and instructional to take a look at examples that represent “outside-the box” forays.
Some of the best free-thinking launches in confections that I have seen come from Japan. Recently, in skimming the Confectionery Manufacturers of Australasia’s newsletter, I came across an article gleaned from Mintel’s Sweet Tooth Society (www.mintel.com) that detailed such products.
Take Morinaga’s solution to a summer chocolate line.
Dubbed Bake, the item features small chocolate pieces that have been – ok, no brainer here – baked so that the chocolate doesn’t melt and smear in a consumer’s hands. What’s even cooler is that the product can be microwaved for one minute so that the filling becomes warm and moist while the outside remains crispy.
Then there’s Pinky Magical mints, which are pocket-size packs that contain two different mint flavors that, when eaten together, create a third, completely different flavor. Available in lemon and orange – these two combine to deliver a cola flavor – and strawberry and banana – these produce a melon flavor – the four flavors can be mixed and matched to deliver 10 different flavors. Wild, eh?
And how about going more adult with gum flavors? Kracie Foods has launched PepperFruits, a gum flavored with ground black pepper and tropical fruits such as mango, passion fruit and pineapple. According to the manufacturer, this product targets consumers who are tired of sweet-tasting products and looking for a spicy-meets-hot combination.
And just so we capture the entire confectionery range, let’s zero in on hard candies such as the Pigeon Co.’s Recoup Mouth-Refreshing Tablets. Granted, the translated description of the product doesn’t quite grab one’s attention off the shelf, but the concept is interesting, nonetheless.
Aimed at attracting older consumers, the tablets are U-shaped, which the company claims prevents choking. The grape-flavored sweets also stimulate saliva production, a function that lessens with age and can lead to bad breath and a variety of oral diseases. In addition to fostering saliva creation, the tablets also clean teeth. Naturally, they come in a senior-designed, easy-to-open pouch.
And while we’re on the subject of packaging, Morinaga’s Dars White Chocolate product features a temperature sensor that turns pink when the chocolate is at the optimum temperature for eating, which the company claims is 22º C (71.6º F). The sensor turns white when the package temperature rises above 25º (77 º F) and changes to purple at below 19º C (66.2º F). Dars also is available in milk chocolate and dark varieties.
Are any of these ideas applicable to what you’re doing? Don’t know. I don’t even know whether these products will be accepted by Japanese consumers. I do know, however, that each one goes well beyond the traditional puzzle boundary. So get out of your comfort zone, and venture beyond those imaginary fences. It’s worth a stumble.
Chocolate bars fight global warmingWith Earth Day only two weeks away (April 22), Bloomsberry & Co. has announced the progress of its Climate Change Chocolate bars in supporting the fight against global warming.
Fifteen months ago, Bloomsberry created all-natural Climate Change Chocolate bars in partnership with TerraPass, Inc. to help consumers reduce their impact on climate change. Today, the bars have helped offset more than 80,000 days of carbon emissions, which is equal to nearly 220 years of a typical American’s carbon footprint, according to Bloomsberry.
Not only are the bars good for the environment, but they’re all-natural, too. Climate Change Chocolate bars are available in milk and dark chocolate varieties, featuring 15 tips to reduce one’s carbon footprint on their wrappers. Each bar also comes with a TerraPass offset for 133 pounds of verified carbon, which is the amount emitted by the average American in one day. These offsets fund clean energy and efficiency projects such as wind farms and methane digesters to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“We’re honored to participate and hope that our partnership with TerraPass will continue to make a lasting difference by promoting more dialogue and action of global warming,” says Bloomsberry CEO Paul Pruett.
Climate Change Chocolate is sold at select retailers in the United States and online at www.shopbloomsberry.com at a suggested retail price of $4.95.
For more information, visit www.bloomsberry.com or www.terrapass.com.
Tom and Sally's celebrates anniversaryAfter 20 years in business as of April 29, 2009, Brattleboro, Vt.-based Tom and Sally’s Handmade Chocolates, Inc. is giving its logo a new look.
Stylistic letters spelling out “Tom and Sally’s” will replace the company’s heart-shaped logo. “Handmade Chocolates” will be written in a classic font, often associated with food, the company says.
The updated logo was chosen to better represent the company and its expanded product portfolio, which consists of all-natural Lifestyle Chocolates, all-natural chocolate bars and 100% Organic Skinny Bars.
For more information, visit www.tomandsallys.com.
Barry Callebaut appoints new leadershipAfter seven years of working for Barry Callebaut, CEO Patrick De Maeseneire has decided to leave the company to become CEO of Adecco SA, a global leader in human resources services, effective June 1, 2009. As a result, the company’s Board of Directors has appointed Juergen B. Steinemann to the position of CEO, effective August 1, 2009. Barry Callebaut’s Chairman of the Board Andreas Jacobs will act as CEO of the company between June 1 and August 1, 2009.
Steinemann previously served as COO of Nutreco Agriculture, an international animal nutrition and fish feed company with more than 100 production and processing plants in more than 30 countries. He also has served as a member of the Executive Board of Nutreco since 2001.
“During seven intensive years, I had the privilege to work with a passionate team for a remarkable company,” De Maeseneire says. “Together, we have been able to develop Barry Callebaut into a global company, nearly doubling its sales as well as the number of factories. I have come to the conclusion that a CEO change would now be good for Barry Callebaut and for me. Therefore, I informed the Board of Directors early on of my decision not to renew my contract, which would have expired at the end of 2009.”
According to Jacobs, “Juergen Steinemann has a wealth of experience in implementing focused business strategies in B2B companies supplying the food and the feed industries, which resulted in impressive sales and profit growth on a global scale. The Board is excited Juergen Steinemann is joining the company and is convinced that he will lead Barry Callebaut to the next level of growth.”
For more information, visit www.barry-callebaut.com.
Candy Dynamics hosts Earth Day Toxic Takedown ChallengeTo celebrate Earth Day 2009 on April 22, Indianapolis-based Candy Dynamics will host its third annual Toxic Waste Hazardously Sour Candy Toxic Takedown Challenge.
Participants ages six and up can enter the challenge drawing at www.toxicwastecandy.com by submitting a tip or creative idea about what people can do to help the planet and environment. The grand prize winner will be awarded a $500 U.S. EE series savings, along with a supply of Toxic Waste candy, and 25 runner-ups will win Toxic Waste candy. The winning entries will be posted online.
Additionally, the Toxic Waste Web site provides a list of twenty tips to help the environment. To view the list, visit www.toxicwastecandy.com/environment.aspx.