Leftovers is our look at a few of the product ideas popping up everywhere. Some are intriguing, some sound amazing and some are the kinds of ideas we would never dream of. We can’t write about everything that we get pitched, so here are some leftovers pulled from our inboxes.
Appetite for cicadas? Frank’s RedHot launches a cookbook
For people in many Eastern states, their Memorial Day picnics will have billions of uninvited guests: noisy, red-eyed Brood X cicadas.
Frank’s RedHot has a suggestion: Make them part of your picnic — literally. The fiery sauce’s corporate owner McCormick, whose headquarters are in cicada hotspot Maryland, is publishing The Cicada Cookbook, with 13 recipes to make the huge black insects at least somewhat enjoyable. The digital cookbook, which becomes widely available next week, includes recipes for buggy dishes including Mini Cicada Corn Dogs, Air-Fried Buffalo Cicada “Wings,” Buffalo Bug Dip and Spicy Cicada Mary.
Cicadas have a unique life cycle. The insects spend 17 years burrowed underground; then as spring temperatures warm up, they tunnel above ground, molt, mate and die. Their eggs hatch and the nymphs burrow back underground to begin the cycle again. Different groups of cicadas, or broods, emerge from the ground at different times. Brood X is currently creating a constant hum of cicada song in places including Washington, D.C., Tennessee and New Jersey.
While there are some consumers who may be put off by the thought of eating cicadas, there’s a segment of the population that is rushing to try them. Insects in general are becoming a more popular source of protein among consumers, who can easily find snacks made from crickets and grasshoppers in some more natural food stores. Research and Markets predicts the edible insects market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 26.5% from 2020 to 2027, reaching $4.63 billion by 2027. Many of these consumers will be driven by sustainability concerns, since insects have a much lower carbon footprint than conventional animal protein, the firm said.
These figures are unlikely to include cicadas, which do not have a life cycle conducive to being raised for food products. And while some chefs are jumping at the chance to add the insects to their menus, fewer ordinary consumers might be willing to try them because they actually need to catch and cook them. Still, given the popularity of Frank’s RedHot and its prominence in the recipes, this cookbook might be able to win over some reluctant bug eaters.
— Megan Poinski
Milk Bar gets cool for the summer
Famed bake shop Milk Bar is headed to the freezer aisle with a new line of ice cream.
This marks the first time the company has sold its ice cream outside of its brick-and-mortar locations, according to a press release emailed to Food Dive, and its latest push past its bakery walls. In April 2020, the company launched its cookies in Whole Foods, and later that same year, brought its Truffle Crumb Cakes to Target shelves.
The treat comes in four flavors, including Birthday Cake, Cereal Milk, Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow, and Milk Bar Pie. The desserts will be available for $5.99 a pint at Whole Foods nationwide starting on June 1, with other retailers to follow.
“I have dreamed about bringing Milk Bar to the freezer section (the holy grail of the supermarket in my opinion) for nearly a decade,” said founder Christina Tosi.
Tosi’s strategy could be on point as the U.S. frozen dessert market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 5.7% from 2021 to 2028, according to Grand View Research.
The ice cream segment, in particular, has become increasingly cramped, and was worth a cool $65.8 billion in 2020, according to a report from ResearchAndMarkets. Unilever, owner of Ben & Jerry’s and Breyer’s saw a 17% increase in sales during the fourth quarter of 2020, even as similar categories saw a sales slump.
Several brands have debuted their own ice cream products recently. Kind released a plant-based ice cream earlier this month, and Coca-Cola-owned Fairlife launched a lactose-free line in July 2020 that has 40% less sugar than regular ice cream.
Sweden-based Nick’s launched its better-for-you ice cream line in the U.S. toward the end of 2019. The brand uses sugar alternatives to sweeten the flavors, and are keto-friendly. And specialty ice cream like Jeni’s are consistently rolling out new flavors, it may be hard for a newcomer to find their footing.
But Milk Bar could have some advantages by creating indulgent flavors other brands may not have. Overall, more consumers have turned toward more indulgent foods during the pandemic, with one in four saying they’ve turned to comfort foods, the International Food Information Council found.
— Barbara Smith
Keebler and Girl Scouts partner on a sweet summertime treat
As temperatures heat up across much of the country ahead of Memorial Day, Keebler is partnering with the Girl Scouts on a cool complement to ice cream.
Keebler Girl Scout Thin Mints Dipped Cones feature custom dark chocolate and the same peppermint oil used in the cookies. Thin Mints is the most popular flavor sold by the Girl Scouts.
The ice cream novelty will be available on shelves through May 2022, Brian Lutz, senior brand manager of Keebler Cones, said in an email. He said Keebler is “open to exploring new collaborations with Girl Scouts,” but for now is focusing on the launch of the Thin Mint Cones.
“Fudge Dipped Cones is one of the fastest-growing cones segments, and Girl Scouts Thin Mints are a leader in balancing rich dark chocolate and mint, so we jumped at the opportunity to bring that experience to the ice cream aisle,” he said.
The International Dairy Foods Association estimated ice cream is an $11 billion industry. About 1.4 billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts were produced in the U.S. in 2017, the trade group found, referencing the most recent figures. Mint chocolate chip is among the most popular ice cream flavors, along with vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
The Girl Scouts are no stranger to branding their popular offering beyond just the annual door-to-door cookie sales each year.
The organization has partnered with General Mills on cereals. Nestlé has incorporated the flavors into its Coffee Mate Coffee Creamer, and its Crunch brand has incorporated them into a candy bar. The Keebler cones launching this month also are not the Girl Scouts’ first foray into ice cream. The organization partnered with Unilever’s Breyers to incorporate pieces of the cookies into ice cream in 2018.
— Christopher Doering