Thursday, July 7, 2016


Part 1
Lazy or very focused list wielding shoppers -BOTH can't help but notice that the bulging chips-pretzels-cracker shelves looking very different from just a few years ago.

Reasons abound...for the surge in choices...  a better travelled, multi-ethnic, growing palate - gourmet type of population, the explosive popularity of foodie media...all generations more open to cultural excursions around the world in their world with their tastebuds...not just those dwelling in millennial-loaded zip codes.

At recent media events and the gargantuan Fancy Food Show in NYC.. miles of delicious crunchy snacks- got devoured...showcasing baked or air-popped choices- made from pulses -not potatoes, dressed up popcorn-now touched with so-called 'healthier' oils. delectable crackers made from gluten free flour sources or freshened up with savory herbs-bold enough to eat unadorned, and the bar food staple pretzels-sizzling in 'hot' flavors -or decorated with the sweet treats usually atop an ice cream sundae.

SOME Highlights---new products from established and cult-y brands. All crunchy, satisfying-crisp in texture-and with just enough lick your fingers goodness-without saturated fats-hydrogenated oils (now it seems- the norm) and as peoples with a very wary eye towards added sugars...not so sweet as to feel the urge to speed dial a dental cleaning.

Biz wise- giant food companies have responded accordingly- for their own big brands , or by buying up smaller food companies with that distinct MO-infusing capital for brand expansion (Frito-Lay's-Stacy's Chips,General Mills-Annies etc). 

TRENDS: Beat the wheat and typical USA corn=non-GMO certified, Gluten Free, USDA Organic, BAKED not FRIED, Sugar (+cinnamon), sea salt, or Spice,  , amped up treats with added vitamins or probiotics, "simple ingredients" (in quotes because just slapping that on the packaging does not make it so), and--- a noticeable uptick in eatables without artificial coloring, made of raw materials sourced reliably- sustainably (we'd rather see no palm oil in anything ),  and waaaay less chemical preservatives and ingredients that are cancer flagged for lab rats.

And this being snacks, single serve packaging is common-or-multi-portion resealable bags-all at reasonable prices.

Editors Showcase Selections:

STACY's PITA Chips one of the earliest hybrid cracker-chip alternatives we remember seeing in our local West Side Market-from a gal entrepreneur Stacy Madison...a crunchy take of pita bread in a chip shape that is made for slurping up dips...imo-the new cinnamon and fire roasted jalepeno (not too hot fyi) versions-pictured...or just fine on their own!
impressive bowl of salsa-pairs well with Stacy's Pita Chips  fire roasted jalapeno-or salt version 

single serve veggie chips-Disney license by Good Health-45% less fat than potato chips-kids will like'em even more though. Parents will too because these crispy chips-1 ounce- have vitamins-selective the comparisons here but still...enough to be equivalent to 2 cups of broccoli Vit A, 3 beets Vit C, 7 cups of spinach Vit. EB6, 8 tomatoes Vit E, 2 carrots Vit K-(130 calories-45 from fat) 

GOOD HEALTH snacks for adults---and a kid's focused snack assortment-are free of hydrogenated oils, added preservatives, trans fats and artificial coloring. The HALF-NAKED Popcorn -USDA Organic certified, NON GMO project verified -comes in 3 flavors...including a hint of sea salt...just enough to satisfy-airy -light, not greasy...made from certified organic popcorn...

our sample gone in a NY minute...
TERRA CHIPS- A grocery store game changer as far as what crispy chips can be made of (besides the occasional taro or plantain chip)---  all gluten free-made from non-GMO ingredients and kosher. Sweet Beets -on the left -one of 12 other sweet potato based varieties

Garden of Eatin' fun name for a well-scoop perfect shaped crisp-love it-mini tortilla bowls-for dips/salsa -or so cute-we'd love this as mini salad bowls...USDA organic -in white corn and blue corn -both with sea salt pictured below...$4.99
Garden of Eatin' Organic Blue Corn Bowls
goldfish competition-Horizon Organic snack crackers -crispy original or mild cheddar flavor

Another example of a bigger company-buying up a smaller brand and expanding the offerings...White Wave Foods' owned Horizon- began its brand life as an organic dairy company-one of the first with widespread distribution...NOW a complete tasty line of organic snacks-and yay-microwavable Macaroni and Mild Cheese single serve cups-two per package. Youth oriented but adult approved for sure AND all USDA Certified Organic.
Horizon Organic Apple Clusters-4 single serve pouches per box $4.49
not a sickly orange tone like the ones we grew up with that our parents mercifully never bought for us...Horizon  Organic Sandwich crackers available in Peanut Butter and Cheddar flavors-imo good choice post a serious workout too-carbs protein and filling for a snack. $4.29 
#UnlockTheAwesomeness and a clever name..Soy Vay has broadened its line of sauces, dressings, and marinades-with solid foods- airy popped rice clusters are a crispy flavored alternative to higher calorie chips-gluten free (naturally), kosher (duh), no artificial flavors or high fructose corn syrup.. Three flavors...
Thai Style Peanut-sweet salty peanuts with ginger, garlic and mild red chilly pepper spice...good choice with cold beer.

our fav-ginger-toasted sesame flavor thing going. Not pictured Spicy N' Sweet

CRUNCHMASTER oven baked crackers are flavorful on their own-we ate our sample of the  salty sweet crisp Sweet Potato&Sunflower-with sea salt -also a cinnamon+sugar version- straight out of the resealable bag! Gluten/wheat free.
We don't see everyone loves Japanese Edamame too much as a basis for chips -though crunchy salty seaweed is a huge (and low calorie) trend we saw at the Fancy Food show...Crunchmaster's Popped Edamame Chips are a tasty California rice flour based crackers-  with real edamame in the mix- non-GMO verified, saturated fat and cholesterol free. A nice change from the usual veggie chip-a bit lighter but just as crispy satisfying! Hope our local spot stocks these.

Part 2 
Part 3