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Leftovers: Lay’s fries up potatoes grown in NFL stadium dirt; Opopop creates an interactive popcorn experience

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.

Lay’s digs deep with potatoes grown from NFL dirt

With the NFL playoffs underway, PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay is giving football fans a way to get even closer to their favorite team from the comfort of their own couch.

The company has created a limited-edition line of Lay’s Golden Grounds chips by pulling soil directly from NFL stadiums and fields across the country. Under the eye of Frito-Lay farmers, the soil was mixed into separate parts of a field to grow potatoes from the grounds of each NFL team. The potatoes were then fried up into chips, which are packaged in bags decked out with NFL team colors and logos. To grab a bag of the chips, fans need to go on Lay’s Twitter page between Jan. 11 and Jan. 25 and look for special Golden Grounds sweepstakes tweets.

“The limited-edition chips are our way of celebrating fans who stand by their teams through victory, defeat and everything in between,” Stacy Taffet, vice president of marketing at Frito-Lay North America, said in a statement. 

Lay’s is no stranger to incorporating unique twists to celebrate a specialized group of consumers. In 2018, it rolled out Lay’s chip flavors as part of its Tastes of America series inspired by different regions of the U.S., including Chesapeake Bay Crab Spice, New England Lobster Roll and Fried Pickles with Ranch for the Midwest.

While the Golden Grounds chips have the same classic Lay’s taste that consumers have eaten for more than 75 years, the novelty of the potatoes being grown in dirt from NFL stadiums could be enough to get snackers to do the Lambeau Leap like in Green Bay, or the Ickey Shuffle, a touchdown celebration performed by Cincinnati Bengals fullback Elbert “Ickey” Woods in the 1980s.

The special chips are similar to what beer companies have done in the NHL. Molson Coors scraped and collected ice from the rink of the Tampa Bay Lightning to create a limited-edition Coors Light Champions Ice beer honoring the team’s second straight Stanley Cup Championship last year. According to ESPN, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks have also bottled championship ice they played on and sold it for charity. It also was made into ice pops during the 2014 playoffs. 

— Christopher Doering


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Courtesy of Opopop


Opopop explodes into 2022 with Popcorn Cups

Opopop has another new way to flavor popcorn.

The company’s latest innovation, Peel + Pour Popcorn Cups, is a bit closer to the more conventional popcorn consumers are used to. These kernels, which have no flavor of their own, are prepackaged in small cups with a solid chunk of flavoring inside. The whole package is dumped into Opopop’s collapsible silicone popper and placed into the microwave. When the kernels are done popping, a shake of the popper coats the kernels with flavoring.

“Pop Cups were born to make snacking more interactive, delicious and desirable, and we believe we have done just that,” Opopop President Sarah McDowell said in the release announcing the product.

Peel + Pour Popcorn Cups, which launched on Wednesday to commemorate National Popcorn Day, are available in four flavors: Like Buddahh, Vanilla Vanilla, Salty Caramel and Lightly Salted. Each cup makes about five cups of popped corn, and they’re available for purchase on Opopop’s website. 

Opopop exploded onto the scene last summer with new innovations in a somewhat stagnant category, as well as impressive fundraising and backing from several CPG veterans. The startup’s signature product is “flavor wrapped” kernels, which allow consumers to pop flavored corn in their microwaves. At the time of its launch, the company noted that the popcorn category grew 13% in 2020, but there had been little new innovation to speak of in more than 40 years. 

Company founders Jonas Tempel and Bradley Roulier have vast experience in the musical kind of pop. They met as DJs, founded the Beatport music store and owned a Denver nightclub. Tempel was also the founding CEO of Beats Music, where he led the development of what would become Apple Music. Opopop’s backers include big names from that world, such as DJ and music producer Tiësto and RXBAR founder Peter Rahal. The startup had raised nearly $12 million before it had products on the market. 

Sales seem to be popping. In the press release, McDowell said the company moved 100,000 pounds of popcorn in 2021.

Easy-to-make flavored popcorn could reinvigorate the category and fill holes in the market. While popcorn sales have seen great growth, all of that has come from ready-to-eat products, according to IRI figures cited by the National Confectioners Association’s Candy & Snack Today. In the 52 weeks ending Oct. 31, 2021, kernel popcorn sales were actually down 8.1% compared to the year prior. Microwave popcorn, which had more than seven times the sales of kernel popcorn, also saw its sales decline 3%. Innovation could help those sales truly pop — especially since many consumers are still working from home and looking for healthier snacks.

— Megan Poinski


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Courtesy of New Belgium Brewing


New Belgium and Imperfect Foods brew features ‘perfectly good’ imperfect oranges

Looks aren’t everything.

New Belgium Brewing and Imperfect Foods have partnered to create a new IPA that uses 35,000 oranges that were deemed imperfect due to little blemishes and scars. Citrus Rescue IPA is dry hopped with citra, lotus and mosaic hops, which New Belgium said creates a “tangy, orange creamsicle experience.” The beer is available at select retailers across the country.

The beer not only serves as a product launch, but also a social message. In a press release, the companies — both certified B Corporations — said they want to educate beer drinkers about the state of food waste, and cited a ReFed statistic that one-third of all food grown in the U.S. is unused.

Sustainability has been a major part of the two companies’ identities. Imperfect Foods, founded in 2015, has been on a mission to eliminate food waste and offer another chance to blemished but quality foods. The company sells groceries on its website made up of items that have cosmetic, size or weight imperfections, and surplus stock. Last year it received $110 million in a series D funding round, according to Crunchbase. As major companies make pledges to halve the food waste in their supply chains by 2030, Imperfect Foods is focused on food that has already been deemed undesirable.

“We hope this collaboration encourages people to think differently about how their food looks and to engage in conversations around food waste over a cold beer,” said Maddy Rotman, Imperfect Foods’ head of sustainability.

New Belgium Brewing has made sustainability a significant part of its image. It measures the emissions at its facilities, including its Fort Collins, Colorado, brewery, which is powered by solar panels. B Lab Global gave the brewer a B Corp score of 136.5, when the median score for companies is 51, for its mission and transparency. In the press release on Citrus Rescue, New Belgium also said that the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council awarded the company the highest certification level for its work to prevent waste from going to landfills.

— Chris Casey

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