In 1929 America was headed into the Great Depression, but along a dusty highway in southeastern Virginia, a small railroad dining car opened its doors and started selling meals to hungry travelers. Established in the heart of Virginia peanut country, it was only natural that peanuts would end up on the Virginia Diner menu. Today, Virginia Diner nuts and confections are available at fine retailers nationwide.
The Virginia Diner has now partnered with Southern Living magazine/Time Inc. to create its exclusively licensed Southern Living Kitchen Collection. Choose from any of the Virginia Diner’s signature flavors: Salted, Honey Roasted, Dill Pickle, Sweet Onion, Wasabi & Ginger, Sriracha, or get them all to bring home a taste of the South.
Affectionately known as “The Peanut Capital of the World”™, the Virginia Diner has been a “Legend in a Nutshell since 1929.”™
The Southern Living Kitchen Collection is available in 9-ounce and 10-ounce tins that are packed in cases of 12. The Virginia Diner also offers monthly specials.
By Robin Mather
Here are some of the trendiest products hitting the market right now.
The specialty waters segment grew 75 percent from 2014 to 2016, according to the Specialty Food Association, which also noted a growing interest in fictional beverages. Among exhibitors at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show with specialty waters were HFactor Hydrogen Infused Water, which has been supercharged with molecular hydrogen to act as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant; Formula Four Beverage Oxigen water and shots, enhanced with O4 molecules; Pervida Immune Health Waters, enhanced with pomegranate seed oil, said to provide immunity support and improve digestive health; and the Rogers Collections’ Halen Mon Oak Smoked Water, meant to use in recipes to add a robust flavor to soups, risotto and casseroles.
Snack sticks are definitely hot, hitting snacking, portability and wellness with ingredients such as seeds, nuts, super fruits and additional protein. Vivify Snacks Energy Sticks blend quinoa, flax, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds with nuts for protein sticks, and Grayson Natural Farms offers grassfed smoked beef sticks.
Plant-based foods, vegetarian- or vegan-friendly foods are also hot, as producers touch on cheese and dairy, frozen dessert, water and meat alternative segments. Beyond Better cashew sauce is a just-add-water alternative to cheese sauces; Little Red Dot Kitchen’s Eggplant Baconness BakWa is a vegan version of the company’s Singapore- and Malasian-style meat snacks.
Coffee and tea remain white-hot as well, the Specialty Food Association said. A number of companies have capitalized on innovations in both refrigerated and shelf-stable varieties as well as RTD categories. Sunup Green Coffee offers a RTD brewed coffee made from unroasted green coffee beans, while Afineur Cultured Coffee is using natural fermentation to provide premium coffee with low bitterness.
Savory and spicy sweets are drawing customer interest, with place-of-origin labeling key, the Specialty Food Association said. Rumi Spice Saffron Gems, founded by a military veteran, is helping Afghan farmers bring saffron to the U.S. market in the form of saffron threads suspended in gummy candies. Milky Finest White Chocolate now offers a bar that incorporates chips made from blue potatoes grown in the Swiss Alps, white chocolate and sea salt.
Nicky USA is introducing Hawaiian Wild Harvest Antelope, the first USDA-certified antelope available in the United States, to the American market in both wholesale and retail packaging. The antelope comes from the “forbidden island” of Niihau. Eland, the largest of the antelope family, are native to the dry African desserts, and have thrived on the arid desert Hawaiian island of Niihau ever since they arrived in 1998. This Wild Harvest Eland is one-of-a-kind, a 95 percent lean protein that has more protein than beef, half the calories of beef, and all the delicious flavor. It’s a healthy and unique option added to Nicky USA’s game line up.
The animals were raised on Niihau Ranch, a 100 percent free-range, all-natural ranch producing sustainable meats raised on pristine Niihau forage. All livestock are raised without antibiotics, growth hormones or steroids and are processed in a USDA-certified abattoir.
Niihau Ranch is located on the privately owned island of Niihau, 17 miles west of Kauai, and boasts the title of the western-most ranch in the United States. This 72-square mile island was purchased by Eliza Sinclair from King Kamehameha IV in 1864. Known as the “Forbidden Island” due to its limited access, Niihau is home to a closely knit community of native Hawaiians who are descendants of the island’s original families. Referred to as a “shoal in time,” the residents live in balance between modern ways and ancient traditions. Niihau Ranch is dedicated to providing the economy to support this last truly Hawaiian island.
The Hawaiian Antelope is available for wholesale now and will soon be available in retail packages. Nicky USA will feature antelope in its Carter Cutlery Game Cooking Competition at Wild About Game on October 8, the meatiest culinary celebration in the Northwest, where samples of the antelope will be available for all attendees to taste.