By Lucas Witman
When entrepreneurs came up with Bisquick and Jiffy Mix in the 1930s, they could never have imagined that these relatively simple mixes of flours and leavening agents would be the precursors of a massive 21st century market for baking and dessert mixes. These two originary brands are still going strong, but they have been joined by hundreds if not thousands of specialty food companies marketing mixes that help home cooks prepare gourmet delicacies. Today, there are mixes available to make anything from blueberry lemon lavender pancakes to shoofly pie to gluten-free Italian herb foccacia.
With the mixes market burgeoning into a truly gourmet enterprise, pre-packaged baking and dessert mixes have gone from basic blends to luxurious updates on classic kitchen staples. Gone are the days when home cooks pulled out a boxed biscuit mix in order to just get breakfast on the table. Today, consumers are more likely to pull out an organic southern buttermilk biscuit mix in order to treat family and friends to a special breakfast treat.
As the mixes market has gone gourmet, featuring high-end recipes, fine ingredients and appealing packaging, these products have become increasingly popular as gifts. The modern foodie is likely to find pre-packaged mixes in her or his Christmas stocking right alongside imported olive oils and stainless steel truffle shavers.
One company at the forefront of the mixes-as-gifts movement is Ohio-based The Invisible Chef. The Invisible Chef markets a wide line of attractively packaged mixes for coffee and tea cakes, breads, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, brownies and more. The company’s products are made with premium all-natural ingredients and feature recipes like those one might find at a high-end bakery. Consumers can prepare Almond Crème Coffee Cake, Chocolate Chipotle Brownies and Chai Latte Cupcakes with the help of The Invisible Chef’s mixes.
“We pretty much cover all the bases in terms of baking mixes,” said Jill McCauley, co-owner of The Invisible Chef. According to McCauley, it is the convenience of her company’s products combined with their gourmet flavors that truly set The Invisible Chef apart. “You can have something mixed up and in the pan before the oven is even preheated,” she said.
When it comes to giving mixes as gifts, The Invisible Chef has consumers covered. “We have some different or intriguing flavor profiles,” McCauley said. ‘If you’re going to buy something as a gift, maybe you want something a little different.”
For retailers, The Invisible Chef’s appealing packaging makes it ideal for holiday merchandising displays. Simply place the company’s Cheddar Chipotle Beer Bread Mix alongside a festive glass loaf plan, and customers have a ready-made gift right in front of them.
Finally, since they are a relatively inexpensive gourmet product, The Invisible Chef’s mixes can be given as gifts for virtually any occasion. “If you just go in and buy a mix, most are under $10 retail, so it’s a really affordable luxury,” McCauley said. “All-natural, great ingredients, nice flavor profile—and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.”
Another company that offers a line of unique mixes that are beautifully packaged and perfect as gifts, is Virginia-based Purely American. Purely American offers more than 80 dessert, bread, soup, chili, seafood and pasta mixes.
In particular, Purely American’s signature Storytelling line of mixes make great gifts by themselves, or they can be a terrific addition to a themed gift basket. Each mix in the Storytelling line,which has been crafted since 1984, tells its own story. Mixes for tasty treats like Amish Country Snickerdoodles, Shenandoah Valley Apple & Spice Cake and Santa Fe Cornbread each tells their own regional tales about specific American locales.
“Our original line—the storytelling mixes—each has a story on the package that celebrates a famous American food, experience, place or tradition,” said Ray Leard, founder of Purely American. Each of the Purely American lines is all-natural, no MSG, low fat and high fiber.
This holiday season, Purely American is offering consumers a number of mixes for holiday-themed goodies, as well. These mixes are ideal as hostess gifts. “Our Christmas at Grandma’s Cranberry Bean Soup is an excellent gift idea,” Leard said.
For specialty food retailers trying to capture extra sales this holiday season, a carefully curated selection of gourmet mixes from high end companies like The Invisible Chef and Purely American is a great way to attract customers looking for the perfect gift for the hard-to-buy-for foodie in their life. With so many expertly crafted mixes available today, however, the hard part is deciding which ones your customers will want most.
Robert Rothschild Farm offers a complete line of baking mixes. New muffin, scone, dessert and bread mixes were introduced in 2013 and have been very popular. All of the company’s baking mixes appeal to consumers who love to bake high quality, delicious treats but do not have the time to make them from scratch.
Two of the most recent additions to Robert Rothschild Farm’s line of baking mixes, Classic Shortbread Cookie Mix and Double Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix, are simply delicious on their own, or they pair perfectly with many of the company’s other gourmet products. The Classic Shortbread Cookies can be topped with any of the company’s preserves, Pumpkin Curd or Buttery Cookie Caramel Sauce. The Double Chocolate Fudge Brownies are sensational topped with Dark Chocolate Peppermint Sauce or Peppermint Candy Cane Dip for a delightful holiday dessert.
Robert Rothschild Farm’s gourmet bread mixes make great side dishes or appetizers when paired with the company’s open and serve dips. The Pub Style Pretzel Bread can be served with new savory cheese dips. Customers can also dip the Italian Herb Focaccia Bread in the Italian Herb Dipping Oil to elevate any meal from ordinary to extraordinary.
For more information about the Robert Rothschild Farm’s gourmet baking mixes, call 800.356.8933, email email@example.com or visit the company online at www.robertrothschild.com.
Arizona Sunset Enchilada Soup, the newest addition to Frontier Soups™ line of 34 all-natural, gourmet soup mixes, is a healthier and easier way for consumers to enjoy a weeknight Mexican fiesta. With much less preparation time than tacos, the new soup satisfies consumers’ taste for culinary adventure. The product is also certified gluten-free.
Arizona Sunset Enchilada Soup features warm chili seasonings and epazote, a spice used in many traditional Mexican dishes. These spices create an authentic Mexican flavor profile. The soup’s colorful golden yellow corn and red peppers are reminiscent of the bold colors of an Arizona sunset, creating point-of-purchase appeal when showcased in 5.75-ounce clear packaging.
A clock icon on the product’s packaging informs busy consumers the soup can be prepared on the stovetop in just 30 minutes. All Frontier Soups soup mixes have no added salt, MSG or preservatives. In addition, the company’s 28 gluten-free varieties have met the requirements of the Celiac Sprue Association® Recognition Seal Program. The SRP for the product is $5.95.
For more information on Frontier Soups, contact the company by phone at 800.300.SOUP (7687), or visit the company online at www.frontiersoups.com.