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Lindt Teams Up With Ashley Tisdale And Maker Studios To Launch Digital Series “It Started with HELLO”

Lindt USA, actress and producer Ashley Tisdale, and online video content provider Maker Studios join together to create an exciting, new romantic comedy series: “It Started with HELLO.” This original digital series celebrates the national launch of Lindt HELLO, a sinfully delicious premium chocolate collection inspired by classic American treats. Created by Lindt in partnership with Maker, “It Started with HELLO” is an interactive series that captures couples as they make their first connections and encourages viewers to find out what happens after “hello” by choosing their own ending to each story. Chocolate lovers can get in on the action with a chance to win a variety of fun prizes through the Lindt HELLO Sweet Connections Sweepstakes.

The digital series, featuring a teaser and four short episodes inspired by the cheeky personalities of Lindt HELLO products, will live on Maker Studios’ fashion + beauty network, The Platform (youtube.com/theplatform). Tisdale brings her behind-the-camera expertise to “It Started with HELLO,” serving as producer for the first episode, reviewing scripts, wardrobe and set design, as well as lending her creativity on set in collaboration with Lindt Chocolate and Maker.

“‘It Started with HELLO’ is different from anything that I’ve ever worked on,” says Tisdale. “As a producer, I’m excited about creating unique content and sharing it with my fans through different platforms. I can’t wait to see the series come to life!”

Say “HELLO” to the Digital Series
Starting today, fans can preview “It Started with HELLO” by visiting youtube.com/theplatform for a first look at the series and to meet the cast. The first episode, produced by Tisdale, will premiere on September 18, 2014. Three additional new episodes will debut weekly through October 9, 2014.

Top digital talent, including Maker partners Chester See, Tessa Violet, Amy Pham and Lindsey Stirling, along with Mike Tompkins andRusty Clanton, star in the interactive program. “It Started with HELLO” episodes will showcase the first connections among different couples:

  • Episode One: “Office Mates” (September 18): Centered around the heart-thumping personality of Lindt HELLO Crunchy Nougat, two people in adjacent offices have been eyeing each other for months. What happens when they finally meet?
  • Episode Two: “Play Ball” (September 25): An afternoon (almost) goes awry when a rogue kick ball interrupts a guy reading in the park. Who will save the day in this episode inspired by the sweet and flirty Lindt HELLO Strawberry Cheesecake?
  • Episode Three: “15 Items or Less” (October 2): A long checkout line leads to a chance encounter between two young shoppers, both purchasing Lindt HELLO Cookies and Cream bars. Will they get to say “hello?”
  • Episode Four: “Blind Date” (October 9): A cryptic text leads a girl to search for her date at a Halloween party. Will his disguise be a trick or a treat in this episode inspired by the Lindt HELLO Caramel Brownie bar?

Consumers are encouraged to say “hello” to their favorite couples and join the conversation using the dedicated #ItStartedWithHELLO hashtag. Fans can also visit LindtHELLO.com to learn more about Lindt HELLO products and enter the Lindt HELLO Sweet Connections Sweepstakes daily for a chance to win weekly prizes, including spa getaways, shopping excursions, date nights for two and plenty of mouthwatering Lindt HELLO chocolate.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate the national launch of the Lindt HELLO collection in a fun, engaging way by sparking new connections among people,” says Danielle O’Neil, Vice President of Marketing, Lindt USA. “With Ashley Tisdale’s and Maker Studios’ involvement, ‘It Started with HELLO’ brings this playful collection to life in a unique way and involves fans within the conversation.”

E. & J. Gallo Winery Contributes $100,000 to Napa’s Earthquake Relief Fund

The E. & J. Gallo Winery has donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross to assist those impacted by the earthquake that struck Napa Valley last month.

“On behalf of our employees and their families, we are making this donation to help the rebuilding effort and to provide aid and comfort to the victims of this disaster,” said Joseph Gallo, Chief Executive Officer and President of the E. & J. Gallo Winery.

The donation will assist the Red Cross recovery response efforts and meet ongoing demands throughout the Napa Valley.

Food Festival Gets Down and Cheesy on 100th Aniversary

Limburger Queen

Limburger Queen

Green County CheeseDays, the granddaddy of Midwestern food fests, celebrates its 100-year anniversary from September 19-21 in Monroe, Wisconsin. The festival celebrates the cheesemaking, dairy farming and Swiss traditions that continue to this day.

Herd to curd.

Cheesemaking first began in Green County in 1846 when Swiss immigrants purchased a few dozen dairy cows and herded them from Ohio to New Glarus, Wisconsin. By 1873, the locals were churning out wedges, blocks and wheels of American, Limburger and Swiss cheese. Today you’ll find more than 50 different varieties, with many available for sampling in the Cheese Tent at the festival.

 Thank goodness for sauerkraut!

The idea for the festival dates back to 1914, when some aspiring entrepreneurs in downtown Monroe were looking for a way to attract visitors and boost business. After a visit to Sauerkraut Day in Forreston, Illinois – they came home inspired, with visions of cheese curds dancing in their heads. “If Forreston can have a festival based on sauerkraut, we can certainly do something better with cheese,” one of them likely said, and the first Cheese Day was planned in less than a month. Despite the lack of Twitter, Facebook and text messaging, nearly 4,000 people arrived by train, horse-drawn rig, and roadster. More than 13,000 cheese sandwiches were served, and the program included vaudeville entertainment and political speeches. According to the local newspaper, “merrymakers danced in the street to band music all afternoon.”

A celebration too good to end.

After some stops and starts (War! Great Depression! Ten-Year Hiatus!) the festival settled into the pattern of a three-day, every-other-year event in 1970. Today, more than 100,000 revelers descend on Monroe to polka and yodel, play alphorns, eat cheese by the truckload, and party – literally – ‘til the cows go home.

Cheesy is what the festival organizers strive for.

Right away you’ll sense the cheesy vibe:  old time copper kettle cheesemaking demonstrations, cheese pairings, and cheese sampling galore.  On the menu:  gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, the best deep-fried cheese curds in the nation, cheesecake on a stick, and Limburger “sliders.” And in honor of the 100th anniversary – a “Procession of Cheesemakers” with a cheesemaker from each of the dozen factories proudly bearing their signature cheese to lend pomp and circumstance to the festival’s opening ceremony.

Send in the cows.

The best of the area’s bovines (Brown Swiss, Jersey, Guernsey, Holstein, Red and White Holstein, Ayrshire, and Milking Shorthorn) make the trip to the “big city” to play starring roles in the wildly popular Cow Milking Contest. For many, the highlight of the weekend is The Swiss Colony Cheese Days Paradewhich is led by a herd of Brown Swiss cows sporting clanging bells and floral wreaths. The parade carries on the tradition of herdsmen bringing the cattle down from the Alps at the end of the grazing season – following a summer nibbling pastures of tall grass and tasty herbs – ideal for crafting delicious Alpine cheeses.

Hundreds of ways to share the fun.

To mark this special anniversary, more than 100 accordion players will play the official Cheese Days Song (of course there is a song!) with the Monroe City Band. In keeping with the theme of 100, dairy farm tours will showcase two family farms where multiple generations have tilled the land and milked the cows for more than a century. Cheese Days also features three entertainment stages with everything from Swiss alphorns and yodeling to rock-n-roll party bands. Also on the schedule – arts and crafts, brewery and distillery tours, activities for kids and antique tractors. In fact, there are more fun things to do at Cheese Days than there are holes in a giant wheel of Swiss cheese!

Cosmos Creations and Bellotti Family Form the Cosmos-Bellotti Sports & Leadership Foundation

 

Cosmos Creations is teaming up with Mike and Colleen Bellotti to create a nonprofit organization, The Cosmos-Bellotti Sports & Leadership Foundation, which will help young athletes help themselves. Mike Bellotti played an important role in the University of Oregon’s football history as offensive coordinator for six years, head coach for 14 and lastly as its athletic director and is currently an a college football analyst for ESPN and ABC. The Cosmos-Bellotti Sports & Leadership Foundation will donate 28 pallets of product, which includes around 26,880 bags, for a total of $107,520 of potential fundraising dollars for area high schools.

“We formed the Cosmos-Bellotti Sports Leadership Foundation with the intent to raise money for high school athletic programs through our fundraising platform,” said Mike Bellotti, Cosmos-Bellotti Sports Leadership Foundation Co-Founder. “The program is designed to build integrity, teamwork and leadership in student athletes while they learn how to conduct themselves in a business environment.”

Each participating school will have the opportunity to receive 2,880 bags of Cosmos Creations in a variety of flavors. The student athletes will then take Cosmos Creations into the community and sell each bag for $4, for a total profit of $11,520 for the school’s athletic program. All fundraiser sales, collection and delivery are immediate. The Cosmos-Bellotti Sports & Leadership Foundation currently has a commitment from the following high schools: Churchill, North Eugene, Springfield, South Eugene, Sheldon, Thurston, Willamette and Junction City.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with Mike and Colleen Bellotti to help make a difference in various Oregon school districts,” said Sarah J. Wilson, Marketing Director of Cosmos Creations. “Unlike other fundraising opportunities, 100 percent of the proceeds go to the schools and gives students a chance to have some control over the direction of their programs.”

Cosmos Creations, formerly Cosmos Caramel Corn, keeps its production simple and delicious with only ingredients that you can pronounce. They currently offer a mix of sweet and savory flavors including flavors, Caramel, Salted Caramel, Coconut Crunch, Cinnamon Crunch, Sea Salt & Butter, Aged Cheddar & Cracked Pepper and Sea Salt & Vinegar, which will all be available to purchase through this program.

 

 

Bemka Celebrates 30th Year

 

Bemka Corporation is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Since its founding in April, 1984, Bemka Corporation has delivered a full line of caviar and fine foods in Europe and the USA for customers in the fine foods industry, including restaurants, hotels, country clubs, catering and fine foods distributors.

“Over the last 15 years, Bemka Corporation has remained strong throughout the many changes in the economic climate,” said Max Moghaddam, CEO and Founder of Bemka. “I attribute our success to two things: first, our expertise to source and select the world’s best caviar and fine foods from around the globe. Second, we constantly look for ways to optimize our operations in every single area of the business. This serves both our customers and our company well, particularly during harder economic times.”

 

Summer Favorites Ice Cream & Novelties Display Contest Winners Announced

The 2014 Summer Favorites Ice Cream & Novelties promotion was heating up profits in the aisles with help from the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) sponsor of a retail display contest in June and July. The most creative merchandising displays were recognized with the prestigious Golden Penguin Award in six regional categories – Northeast, Southeast, East Central, West Central, Southwest and Pacific/Western. A total of 19 Gold and 26 Silver Penguins were awarded. See the complete list of winners.

All winning displays were honored for their presentation of the 14 sponsoring brands’ ice cream and novelty products. The promotion was also supported with consumer outreach including a VIP Coupon and Freezer Giveaway on the Easy Home Meals Facebook page and a partnership with the Mr. Food Test Kitchen that extended the messaging to TV and online audiences.

The Gold Penguin awards will be presented at the Grand Awards Banquet during NFRA’s Convention in Orlando, Florida, October 14, 2014. Silver awards are typically presented at the local level at appropriate frozen food association meetings.

Golden Penguins were also awarded for quality marketing plans during March Frozen Food Month and June Dairy Month. For more information on any of the Golden Penguin competitions, contact NFRA at 717.657.8601.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Now Offering Mediterra Snack Bars

Less than three months after its launch, savory nutrition bars from Mediterra®  are now available in Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, the first large-scale natural retailer to offer Mediterra bars. Currently, the rapidly growing Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage operates 86 stores in 14 states.

“Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has stringent standards, and bringing Mediterra into their stores is a huge endorsement,” says Mediterra Founder Telemaque Lavidas. “It’s an honor to partner and grow with them, while we aggressively continue to introduce our brand to consumers nationwide.”

“The products we carry are free from artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, sweeteners, both hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. We continue our search for additional snack items that taste good and meet these standards, and Mediterra does that,” says Nancy Flynn, Marketing Director for Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage. “We’re looking forward to offering our customers another healthful way to snack, while on-the-go.”

MediterraTomatoPhotoInspired by the Mediterranean Diet that’s considered by experts as one of the healthiest lifestyles in the world, Mediterra bars have six new unique flavors that feature various fruits, vegetables and grains, providing different snacking options for throughout the day. All bars are all-natural, non-GMO and gluten free. They retail for $1.99.

The six unique bar flavors come in three specific varieties that provide ancient nutrition in a modern and convenient way:

Savory Bars: The bars are rich in vegetable content, but low in calories, sodium and sugar and contain protein-rich pea crisps and a touch of olive oil. Each Savory Bar is 1.4 ounces and contains six grams of protein and fiber. They are certified kosher and dairy free. The Savory Bars serve as an alternative to sweet snacks providing super foods and amaranth, an ancient grain. Flavors include Tomato/Basil/Capers and Olive/Walnut/Chives.

Sesame Honey Energy Bars: Traditionally known as pasteli, these bars are dairy-free and contain only a few ingredients including roasted sesame seeds, Greek honey and either pistachios from Aegina Island or orange peel. The combination provides natural and long lasting energy. Each bar is 1.3 ounces, contains up to six grams of protein and two grams of fiber. Flavors include Sesame Seed/Pistachio/Greek Honey and Sesame Seed/Orange/Greek Honey.

Yogurt and Oat Bars: Bottom-covered with yogurt-style coating, the bars are 1.6 ounces, certified kosher and contain seven grams of protein. The bars also feature fig paste, sunflower seeds and raisins. Flavors include Yogurt/Oat/Cherry Pistachio and Yogurt/Oat/Apricot Pistachio.

After launching in June, the company named Acosta Sales & Marketing, a leading full-service sales and marketing agency in the consumer packaged goods industry, as its U.S. sales agency. In addition, the company has won two product awards including a 2014 The Lempert Report Innovator award for its Savory Bars.

Click here to read more Gourmet News coverage of snack foods.

 

 

 

New York Style Introduces Garlic Parmesan Bagel Crisps

bagel crispsB&G Foods has added Garlic Parmesan flavor to its line of New York Style Bagel Crisps®. The new flavor lets you experience New York-style bagels in a light and crispy chip with the zest of garlic and the zing of Parmesan cheese. These crunchy baked snacks are made with bagel bread and have half the fat and fewer calories than fried potato chips.

Garlic Parmesan New York Style Bagel Crisps can be adorned to create party fare that will impress the most discerning of foodies, or they can be enjoyed straight out of the bag. They’re great on their own or paired with toppings, dips and spreads, providing a delectable appetizer in a New York minute. New York Style Bagel Crisps are made without artificial flavors or colors.

Garlic Parmesan New York Style Bagel Crisps will be available in stores starting in September.

Click here for more coverage of gourmet snack foods.

 

Emmi Roth USA Employees Named Certified Cheese Professionals

Two Emmi Roth USA employees are among the 2014 class of American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professionals™. Krista Schoppenhauer and Kristin Sande are part of an elite group of 153 individuals from 32 different companies who passed the third annual ACS Certified Cheese Professional Exam, held July 29 in Sacramento, California.

Krista Schoppenhauer, Inside Sales Representative for Specialty Cheeses at Emmi Roth USA, has more than 10 years of experience in the cheese industry. Schoppenhauer, who developed a love of fine food at a young age, said she is “proud to have attained this milestone while working at Emmi Roth.”

With more than 20 years of experience in the cheese industry, Kristin Sande is the Inside Sales Manager for Specialty Cheeses at Emmi Roth USA.  “I am fortunate to have a career that not only provides continued growth but also tastes delicious,” said Sande.

Sande and Schoppenhauer join Roger Olsen, Specialty Sales Trainer, who passed the ACS Certified Cheese Professional Exam in 2013. “The ever-expanding cheese community is a wonderful place to be, especially now,” said Olson, who has more than 20 years of professional experience in the food industry. “It is a joy sharing great cheese and education with people who are passionate about food.”

“We are exceptionally proud of Krista, Kristin and Roger,” said Jodie Wische, Vice President of Specialty Sales at Emmi Roth USA. “Becoming a Certified Cheese Professional is a prestigious achievement and true testament to their dedication and passion for the cheese industry.”

In support of cheesemongers and cheese professionals, Emmi Roth USA proudly sponsors the American Cheese Society CCP reception to honor and celebrate the efforts of exam takers. The exam is the only one of its kind, and it was established to encourage improved standards of comprehensive cheese knowledge and service. Aspiring cheese professionals need 4,000 hours of work experience and formal education just to be eligible to take the exam. Those who pass the test are awarded a lapel pin, jacket patch and certificate.

To learn more about the Certified Cheese Professional Exam, visit www.cheesesociety.org.

New Hunger Figures Show Millions of Americans Continue to Struggle

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released its annual report, Household Food Security in the United States 2013. The report reveals that 14.3 percent of U.S. households were food-insecure in 2013. This number is a slight decline since 2011 but remains well above the rates of food insecurity recorded before the recession.

“Our elected officials need to make ending hunger a national priority,” said Rev. David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World. “It is unacceptable that 17.5 million households in this country must choose between paying for medicine, rent, day care, or food.

In 2008, the number of food-insecure Americans increased by more than 30 percent as a result of the recession and has remained above 14 percent. The USDA defines food insecurity as “when consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.”  

The working poor and families living in poverty are most vulnerable to food insecurity. The threat to children is especially high – 15.8 million children lived in food-insecure households in 2013.

According to the USDA report, for 360,000 households, “food insecurity among children was so severe that caregivers reported that children were hungry, skipped a meal, or did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food.” Studies show that children who are hungry and at risk of hunger are more likely to struggle in school and have an increased risk for illnesses and weakened immune systems.