B’more Organic skyr smoothies are now widely available through its new strategic expansion into the Mid-Atlantic. Now offered in more than 100 new outlets in the region, including Whole Food Markets, Safeway supermarkets, and independent stores, B’more Organic smoothies are available in Banana, Mango Banana, Strawberry Banana, Vanilla and Caffe Latte flavors. The brand is now available in over 250 locations.
B’more Organic new store expansion includes:
• 34 additional Mid-Atlantic Whole Foods Markets in Northern Virginia, District of Columbia., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati and parts of Kentucky.
• 50 Safeway supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia
• 25 independent markets in Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York
Skyr is an Icelandic-style strained yogurt, similar to Greek yogurt, brought originally to North America by way of Nordic settlers with experience in food preservation. B’more Organic skyr smoothies are made from fat-free skim milk naturally loaded with protein and probiotics. B’More Organic is providing a protein-packed, gluten-free and fat-free creamy beverage, now available to the Mid-Atlantic region.
By David Bernard
Last month, as the St. Regis New York Hotel was busy celebrating the 80th anniversary of the U.S. debut of the bloody mary in the hotel’s King Cole Bar, a bartender at Todd English P.U.B. in Las Vegas was busy adding a skewer of corn dog pup and crispy chicken wing to a $35 bloody mary already stacked with a slider, chilled shrimp and pickled asparagus, among other garnishes. Still popular decades after its creation and continuously reinterpreted, bartender Fernand Petiot would no doubt be pleased with the legacy of the perennial cocktail classic he first mixed in Paris in 1921 before serving it at the St. Regis in 1934.
Capitalizing on consumer hunger, a thirst for spice and the growing desire for healthy ingredients, retailers of all things bloody mary, including mixes, seasoning blends and rimmers, are finding a wealth of products to choose from and a strong market to which to sell.Some retailers and producers describe two distinct markets for bloody marys. Jerry Ciesielski, Fine Foods Buyer for Premier Gourmet in Buffalo, New York, noted that a lot of the store’s older customers “stick with what they know,” buying mixes that are more representative of the classic bloody mary recipe. “For the younger customers coming in, it’s all about spicy hot,” he said.
Of the 16 brands of mixes sold in Ciesielski’s store, Tabasco Extra Spicy has become the second best-seller – up from fourth place. Tabasco Extra Spicy is followed by another spicy offering, the horseradish-flavored Mr & Mrs T Premium Blend. The top-seller at the store, as well as one of the leaders nationwide, is the medium-hot Zing Zang.Ciesielski said that customer requests, along with the trend toward spicy across many food categories, spurred the store’s move toward spicier offerings. “I’m looking for more and varied spicy mixes,” he said.
The good news for retailers like Ciesielski is that there is certainly no shortage of spicy bloody mary mixes on the market today from which to choose. The Murph’s Famous Bloody Mary Mix, based in Long Island, New York, already had a successful, more traditional mix sold in 26 states when it decided to add a spicy version a year ago. “The response has been amazing,” said Stephen Murphy, CEO of The Murph’s Famous Bloody Mary Mix. The new mix includes cayenne, horseradish and black pepper. “When we did production runs initially, we thought it out and made 70 percent of the original mix and 30 percent hot and spicy. Within six months, it was 50-50. And now we’re 60-40 hot and spicy.”
Murphy got the idea for The Murph’s Hot & Spicy Bloody Mary Mix, which recently won a Chile Pepper Magazine award for Best Bloody Mary Mix, after attending a number of hot sauce trade shows. As a sponsor himself of the New York City Hot Sauce Expo, which doubled its attendance to more than 10,000 this year, Murphy has observed firsthand the trend toward spicy. “I have really seen, particularly among 21-35 year olds, that it’s all about hot sauce and different flavors of hot foods and sauces,” he said.
One of the country’s top bloody mary seasoning producers, Demitri’s of Seattle, Washington, happened upon its spiciest flavor, chipotle-habanero, quite by accident. According to founder Demitri Pallis, the company, which has won 25 Scovie Awards since 2012, created the extra-hot variety as a “marketing stunt” for the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Show Convention in Las Vegas. “We kind of told the joke on ourselves,” said Pallis. “The response came back so well that, while we didn’t intend to actually put a label on it, we decided to go ahead and add it to our lineup.” While the chipotle-habanero blend is too hot for most bars to stock as their house mix, it does very well on the retail shelf, just as has done another of Demitri’s spicy offerings, Chilies and Peppers, which has increased in popularity in recent years.
While some retailers stick to a two-fold offering of more traditional mixes in addition to hot and peppery options, producers today are stepping up with unique flavors as well. Jason Poole, Brine Boss at Preservation & co. in Sacramento, California, recently turned a Dijon mustard-caper-balsamic-pickling-brine recipe he perfected as a bartender into a successful product sold in 150 California locations. (Expansion to surrounding states is in the works.) Developed for entry into the national Absolut Vodka Bloody Mary Search contest, in which it took second place, the viscous mix also contains sriracha.
“The thing that would really frustrate me about bloody marys as a bartender was that people would drink about three-fourths of their drink and wouldn’t finish it, because, by the end, it would be too diluted and it wouldn’t have the flavor it began with,” said Poole. “Our goal was to create a drink where they could actually enjoy the whole thing.” By making the mix thick and adding heat with sriracha, Poole created a buffer against the dilution that comes from adding ice and vodka, ultimately preserving the mix’s briny/tangy and sweet tones.
Preservation & co., which produces a variety of pickled and other vegetable products and seasonings, also offers a sriracha salt bloody mary rimmer. Spicy rimmers like this one have risen in popularity alongside spicy mixes. Bacon-flavored rimmers are also trending.
Just a year old, Austin, Texas-based Bloody Revolution, has taken variety to a new level, recently expanding its reach to over 600 locations, including gourmet shops and major retailers, like one of the largest grocers in the state, HEB. The company offers five mixes, with the unique twist that none of the four “variation” flavors are based on the company’s original recipe. The company’s four co-founders started Bloody Revolution to fill what it saw as a gap in the marketplace, crafting unique flavors like wasabi ginger, ribeye, pickle zing and smoked habanero.
“We had the idea to do something totally different from what we’d ever seen,” said Chantz Hoover, Managing Partner of Bloody Revolution. “We decided to mix things up.” While the company’s more unique flavors have proven a hit among adventurous cocktail enthusiasts, Bloody Revolution’s standby original and smoked habanero offerings serve as a point of entry for bloody mary beginners. “Customers will try the original or the smoked habanero first,” Hoover said. “Retailers are telling us that they come back and say, ‘Hey, that was awesome, I’m ready to try one of these other flavors now.’”
Bloody Revolution’s offerings fit perfectly with another bloody mary trend: the bloody mary “bar within a bar” concept. Restaurants and bars across the country are setting up a bloody mary carts or mini-bars where customers can choose their own garnishes, extra spices and rimmers. While establishments typically offer only one or two mixes at the “front” of the cart, Bloody Revolution clients have found success when they choose to offer all five of the company’s mixes. The renowned Austin hotel, The Driskill, whose popular Saturday Bloody Mary bar had featured two housemade original mixes for 30 to 40 years, recently added three Bloody Revolution mixes, with impressive results.
“Their beverage director said, ‘This is going to take our bloody mary bar to another level,’” said Hoover. “And now, six months later, it’s gone really well for them. They’ve given us great feedback.” The company’s mixes have performed similarly well at other clients’ bloody mary bars.
The growing preference among consumers for natural and healthy products is also driving today’s bloody mary market. While the drink uses vodka or another type of alcohol, it also contains a healthy dose of tomato juice and often cayenne and other beneficial spices.
“I find that a lot of our customers are vegetarians,” said Mel Gonzalez, COO of Backyard Mary, a Huntington Beach, California company whose medium heat mix is sold in four western states. “They look at it as a liquid salad, basically as a meal in a drink.” Backyard Mary Bloody Mary Mixer, which carries just enough heat derived from horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and peppers, gives the drinker a light kick, yet it is still bright and flavorful. The mixer was a Platinum Best of Class winner at the Spirit International Prestige Awards.
Of course, some bloody marys are not so healthy, and consumers can thank the blogosphere in part for that. Spurred on in a “can-you-top-this” fashion, some restaurants, bloody mary bloggers and individual consumers are carving out a spot at the bar (or on the internet) by posting outrageous pictures of lavishly garnished bloody marys. A bacon cheeseburger, King Crab claw, and chicken and waffles are just a few of the indulgent garnishes that demonstrate how the bloody mary can serve as a “meal in a glass.”
While possibly alarming some fans of the classic recipe, elaborate versions of this classic cocktail may be contributing to an overall boost in the category. “I’d say the Bloody Mary is getting more popular,” said Shelley Buchanan, author of “The Drunken Tomato: A Definitive Guide to the Best Bloody Marys in Los Angeles and Orange County.” “Especially with everyone sharing all these pictures of the crazy garnishes, bloody marys are really coming out in social media a lot more, and they’re getting more attention that way.”
Bolder Beans produces crunchy, pickled green beans and other pickled vegetables that are a healthy snack, a perfect addition to a Bloody Mary, or even a great gift. Bolder Beans are sugarfree, fat-free and even gluten-free. There are less than 100 calories in the entire jar and each serving has
only 1 carb. In addition, there is nothing artificial added and all ingredients can be pronounced.
Bolder Beans started as a wonderful addition to a Bloody Mary. Just add a couple pickled green beans instead of a piece of celery and your Bloody Mary is transformed. “I first tried a pickled green bean in a Bloody Mary in New Orleans. When we returned home to Colorado, we couldn’t find anything we liked, so I decided to make my own!” said Rogue Edwards, Owner of Bolder Beans.
A single jar is perfect for a hostess gift, a teacher appreciation item, a pot luck dinner, or just a simple thank you. Purchase a jar online at www.bolderbeans.com or custom order a gift box that will really stand out. Prices range from $8 a jar to $30 a gift box depending upon the
For the Bloody Mary lover, a Bolder Beans Bloody Mary gift set is really unique. This special gift box includes a jar of Bolder Beans, Bloody Mary concentrate mix, rim salt, a bean fork and even a pack of beef straws! Just add the vodka for a complete set that will make any Bloody Mary lover smile.
Bolder Beans come if three tasty flavors: mild, medium and hot. The mild beans have a big, bold, dill pickle taste that are crunchy and zesty without the added heat. For the medium flavor, a jalapeño is added to the jar to give it a big, bold kick with a peppery jalapeño taste. A habanero is added to the hot and gives the bean a sweet heat. Whether they are chopped up in a salad, added to a Bloody Mary, or eaten right out of the jar as a good snack or an easy appetizer, Bolder Beans are sure to please any pickle person.
Opa by Litehouse Feta Dill Greek Yogurt Dressing was named The Association for Dressings & Sauces (ADS) Dressing of the Year at the ADS Annual Meeting held October 11-13 in Naples, Florida. Litehouse Foods launched OPA by Litehouse to rave reviews: in just one year in the market the best-selling dressing has reached over 50 ACV in 47 of the top 64 IRI markets and is already 21 percent of the yogurt refrigerated salad dressing category.
“We are so honored that Litehouse was chosen for this prestigious award,” said Maria Emmer-Aanes, Vice President Marketing and Communications for Litehouse, Inc. “OPA by Litehouse Greek Yogurt Dressing was the first fresh, Greek yogurt based dressing to market, and we’ve received rave reviews from consumers since its launch. We are thrilled to be acknowledged by our peers as well.”
The Dressing of the Year Award is presented by ADS to recognize and celebrate truly innovative and delicious dressing products. Nominations for the award were received from ADS members and were then voted on by members via a blind taste test at the ADS 2014 Technical Meeting in San Diego, California. ADS members voted for the dressing deemed to have the best overall taste.
Using Greek yogurt as a salad dressing base provides a lower calorie dressing with twice the protein of a traditional dressing. OPA by Litehouse dressings are free of trans fats, have no MSG or artificial preservatives and only 0-1 gram of sugar per serving.
By Dave Bernard
Whether it’s a coffee-inspired seasoning blend that highlights the meat and poultry dishes of a popular Denver spice shop’s customers, a delicious all-purpose blend from St. Augustine, Florida featuring the sweet and fruity yet sharp bite of native datil pepper or the endless custom seasoning possibilities of Midwest spice stalwart Wixon, home chefs and the retailers that serve them have more delectable choices in seasoning blends than their pantry or store shelves can hold.
When it comes to unique flavor combinations, Coal Gulch Trading Company packs quite a punch for its small size. The three-employee Madrid, New Mexico company, which partners with a co-packer and is in its fourth year of operation, boasts a Scovie Award for its Ancho Herb Seasoning, a salt-free Italian blend that works with lasagna and spaghetti as well as a dry rub for meat and fish. The company also has a Great American Barbecue People’s Choice award for its Chipotle Seasoning blend.
Coal Gulch looks to infuse a dash of originality into its seasoning blends, as with its new Cayenne Seasoning that surprises with brown sugar. “We try to start with a traditional base,” said owner Michael Scott Reilly. “That’s a typical cayenne base, and then I try to twist it to my own taste and create something unique that sets it apart from everybody else. That and the fact that we’re salt-free and gluten-free as well – we’re getting a nice response to it.”
In addition to its cayenne, ancho herb and chipotle blends, Coal Gulch offers a habanero blend, as well as two glazes and a habanero mustard. Its products are sold in markets and gift shops in New Mexico and Arizona as well as in Ohio’s Jungle Jim’s International Markets.
St. Francis, Wisconsin-based spice company Wixon focuses on custom seasoning blends for private-label retail and foodservice clients. When Moe’s Southwest Grill needed a hot seasoning blend for its spicy guacamole, the 500+ location casual restaurant chain turned to Wixon. While Moe’s requested a very specific flavor profile with particular finishing notes, Wixon Corporate Chef Steve Padley and his team negotiated the complex arena of hot seasoning combinations to create a habanero-based blend for the chain’s now highly successful guacamole.
Whether solving seasoning challenges for a large casual dining chain, private-label client or startup gourmet food manufacturer, Padley finds this an exciting time for seasoning creators given the surging and varied demands of consumers looking for adventurous new tastes as well as authentic ethnic flavors. “American consumers are fascinated by what’s not here,” Padley said. “When they see the Travel Channel going to all of these exotic locales, and then they get on the Internet and do a little more exploration, they start to wonder what these flavors are like. And now with the millennials coming through and the generation behind them, I think they’re a little more adventurous in their eating.”
While the opportunity to create unique seasoning blends is “the greatest thing in the world,” according to Padley, he also emphasized the care that goes into creating the authentic ethnic flavors that consumers crave. “People are looking for flavors that are more real now, more authentic,” he said. “So it’s about getting the right type of chilies, the right type of herbs for this traditional fare. And having been in the business for as long as I have, I can take all the past learnings and really explore the world and do this sourcing.”
Other companies have found success with a business model that includes manufacturing as well as online and brick-and-mortar store sales. As these spice houses create new and unique blends as well as spot-on authentic combinations, they focus on bonding with in-store customers over the cooking experience.
“Our stores are about interaction,” said Mike Johnston, co-founder of Denver-based Savory Spice Shop. The staff at his stores focus on sampling and engaging with customers about cooking and goals in the kitchen. A perfect example is the company’s popular Mexican Mole blend. After a number of regular customers asked Johnston to come up with such a blend as a convenient alternative to the one to two-day intensive from-scratch process of creating authentic mole, he created a delicious chocolate-chili blend that turns two days of work into 45 minutes for savory ready-to-eat beef, chicken, pork or vegetable dishes.
Another blend that has been getting fantastic results for Savory Spice Shop is the company’s signature Baker’s Brew Coffee Spice. By combining a dark roast coffee with sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, allspice and cardamon among other ingredients, Johnston has hit on a blend that delights in both savory and baking uses.
Based in Palm Harbor, Florida, The Spice & Tea Exchange has 37 stores spread throughout the country, five of which are company-owned, including locations at Walt Disney World and Tampa, Florida’s Busch Gardens. When a walk-in customer at one of The Spice & Tea Exchange’s nationwide locations has questions about the inclusion of black tea in a peppercorn salmon rub, interaction is the keyword there, as well. “Our experience is all about smell, taste and getting to know what works for you and what you prefer,” said Libby Breivogel, Corporate Marketing Coordinator for The Spice & Tea Exchange. “Since nearly all of our blends are hand-mixed right in-store, we encourage customers to ask questions, and our stores host a lot of educational sessions and cooking classes.”
One of the company’s top sellers is its all-purpose Signature Spice Blend, created by founder and Managing Partner Clay Freeman. This blend includes the fruity yet hot datil pepper native to the St. Augustine area where the company’s warehouse is located.
Whether authentic traditional or new and unique, there is always room on the retail shelf for a quality gourmet seasoning blend. The nice thing is spices and blends never really go out of style. “If you look back at history, there have been wars fought over spices,” said Michael Scott Reilly of Coal Gulch Trading Company. “And just about every futuristic magazine, it’s all about spice miners and traders. So spices are a big part of culture and a big part of life. It’s something everybody can relate to.”
Holiday entertaining is not the same without Vanilla Bean Unique Cookies. The company’s Clementine Sandwich Cookies are made with real butter, pure cane sugar, cage-free eggs and fresh orange zest. The unique combination of crisp, buttery, orange-infused shortbread cookies sandwiched with a slightly sweet and tart butter cream creates a burst of unique flavors. As one customer said, “It’s like sunshine.” What better way to spend an afternoon than relaxing with a cup of tea and a Vanilla Bean Clementine Sandwich Cookie?
Packaged in a new carton which is bright and beautiful, Vanilla Bean Clementine Sandwich Cookies make a great addition to holiday gift offerings. Customers love making lasting first impressions, which is easy to do with these cookies. Vanilla Bean Unique Clementine Sandwich Cookies are the perfect gift for any season.
For more information on Vanilla Bean Unique Cookies, www.vanillabeanuniquecookies.com.
Celebrate the joy of the holiday season surrounded by friends and family with The Invisible Chef’s Holiday Collection. The collection features flavors steeped in tradition in products that are designed to save time while creating new family memories. While the fire is roaring and the snow is falling, just add a few ingredients to The Invisible Chef’s mixes, and your holiday baking is complete. The mixes make a perfect gift and are sure to delight everyone, making the holidays sparkle with love!
Featured flavors from The Invisible Chef include Chocolate Peppermint Coffee & Tea Cakes, Cranberry Spice Scones, Red Velvet Cupcake Kit and Macaroon Chocolate Chip Blondies. Each mix is blended with all-natural ingredients and needs just a few items from your kitchen to bake and enjoy.
Other favorites from The Invisible Chef product line include the company’s Coffee & Tea Cakes, Blondies & Brownies, Frosted & Fabulous Cupcake Kits, Bake It Quick Breads, Simple Sweet & Savory Muffins, Bed & Breakfast Favorites (including scones, pancakes and waffles) and Cookie Jar Classics. With so many categories and flavors to choose from, you’re sure to find a favorite.
For nearly 20 years, Sisters’ Gourmet has made baking easy and convenient with its eye-catching dessert mixes. As a gift, these mixes are attractive and unique, and the jars are reusable. Since the packaging is a key “ingredient” at Sisters’ Gourmet, the jars stand out on the store shelf. Customers love being able to see the ingredients in the jars, which are carefully measured and proudly packed by hand in the United States.
Using only the highest-quality ingredients available that not only taste good but are good for you, such as whole grain oats, sun ripened cranberries and select indulgent chocolates, most mixes require the addition of just eggs and butter to make about three dozen cookies.
Sisters’ Gourmet was founded by Lisa Sorensen and her sister Suzy. It is now owned and operated by Lisa and her husband Rob. They produce gourmet baking mixes which are sold directly to consumers via their website as well as to specialty shops worldwide. Products have been featured in the finest specialty shops and have been selected as some of Oprah’s favorite products on her coveted O-list. Everything is produced in a facility 45 minutes NE of Atlanta. All of the layered mixes are packed by hand and use only the best ingredients available.
One of the hottest condiments on the market right now is Sriracha hot chili sauce, and the team at The Spice Lab has developed an innovative new take on the product – Sriracha Sea Salt. Made from sun-ripened chilies, finely ground Sriracha powder is infused with sea salt to create this amazingly versatile condiment.
The selection of hot and spicy seasonings from The Spice Lab does not stop at Sriracha Sea Salt, however. The company’s product selection also includes Scotch Bonnet Pepper Salt, Ghost Pepper Salt, Smoked Ghost Pepper Salt, Scorpion Pepper Salt, Jalapeño Salt, Smoked Chipotle Salt and Cayenne Hot Sauce Sea Salt.
Made with all-natural unrefined sea salt and premium, finely ground chili peppers from around the world, each unique salt offers distinct flavor and heat, true to the peppers that season it. The salts are available in both 100-milliliter glass jars and 3-ounce stand-up pouches.
For more information on The Spice Lab, visit the company online at http://shop.thespicelab.com.
Uncle Bunk’s Mustard Relish, Rustic Pepper Sauce and 14 Day Sweet Pickles are handcrafted in small batches, using locally-grown produce and old-fashioned Appalachian recipes.
Uncle Bunk’s has won numerous awards for its products. The company was recently voted WV Living Magazine’s “2013 Made in WV Award” winner for outstanding Food & Drink. The company’s Mustard Relish was a 2011 sofi™ Silver finalist. And it won the condiment category at the 2013 Hot Pepper Awards.
Uncle Bunk’s award-winning Mustard Relish is a sweet, hot mustard that gets its kick from a mix of eight peppers. It will spice up anything you put it on. In addition, the company turns up the flame with its Rustic Pepper Sauce. Not a spicy ketchup or salsa, this secret family recipe has a unique and zesty taste that makes it a multiple award winner that includes Fiery Food Challenge, Hot Pepper and Scovie wins. Both the Mustard Relish and Rustic Pepper Sauce are available in 9-ounce and 14-ounce sizes and in medium or hot heat levels.
Featured in Country Living, Uncle Bunk’s crisp and crunchy 14 Day Sweet Pickles add a sweet and peppery flavor to any relish tray. Made with the company’s 100-year-old family recipe, they are available in 9-ounce and 17.5-ounce sizes. Fiery 14 Day Hot Sweet Pickles are a 2013 Fiery Food Challenge, Scovie and Hot Pepper Award winner. Available in a 17.5-ounce size, these hot pickles are the best around.