Monday, February 13, 2012

Around The Culinary World

Hello again everyone! It’s Monday once again, and it’s snowing in Iowa. Snow and a Monday? There ought to be a law about that… My typical 15 minute commute took 50 minutes this morning, we’re barely into Monday and I’m all set to go back to bed! On snowy, cold days like these, there’s nothing better to do than to peruse the stories from the culinary world. We’ve got quite a few stories lined up this week, so let’s dive right in!

The individual coffee maker phenomenon has always flummoxed me. While I can understand the great convenience of single serve coffee canisters (no cleanup, makes the perfect amount) all I ever see is a wasteful product. Each canister goes into the trash, making a great deal more waste than a traditional pile of (biodegradable) coffee grounds would from a standard machine. The other strike against these single serve machines always seems to be cost. These 6 pack containers of single serve coffee are not cheap – I understand you can buy them in bulk, thereby reducing the cost, but I still always felt that people were paying an exorbitant amount for convenience.

As it turns out, they are. A recent study conducted by the New York Times estimates that the cost of K-Cup coffee is around $51 per pound. That’s higher than any premium roast or high end coffee on the market. You can read more about the story HERE including a different perspective on the product HERE.

As a society, we cannot get enough caffeine. People (on average) get too little sleep, try to cram their day with too many tasks and cut corners on key nutritional elements because there simply isn’t enough time in a day. This leaves people overworked and rundown. We compensate for all of these shortfalls with caffeine; either in coffee, energy drinks, soda or even tiny bottles of pure “energy”. A new product, known as “AeroShots” is hoping to add “inhalable powder” to that list.

The $2.99 single serve product contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine, or the equivalent of one large cup of coffee. Some lawmakers have expressed concerns over the potential for the product to be abused like a drug, and others have cautioned about long term health risks from a product such as this. Initial feedback from consumers seems positive, however, so barring a set back from the FDA, look for AeroShots to begin popping up all over the country. You can read more on this new caffeine delivery system HERE.

The Arby’s restaurant chain has been trending downward over the past few years. In 2011, their parent company separated them from the Wendy’s chain and sold them outright. They’ve since tried an aggressive marketing campaign and slight redesign in order to find their niche in the fast food industry. It looks like they’re going to be getting a little more aggressive in the future.

It’s being reported that in the third quarter of 2012, Arby’s will undergo a large scale change, including a new logo, new menu and new marketing campaign. You can read more about this rebranding effort HERE.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a great day to be Hallmark, local restaurants and chocolate manufacturers. It’s also a nice day to spend with a loved one and enjoy their company. Maggie and I picked up a bottle of pink champagne for the holiday and plan to spend a quiet evening indoors, away from the crazed crowds. Pink champagne makes an appearance on the shelves about once per year – and can be found for a relatively manageable price. Check out this collection of pink champagne variants and find the price point and flavor that suits you best. (We found a Trader Joe’s brand for around $6 – we’ll keep you posted on how that brand fares).

You may have noticed, while wandering from one grocery store to another or even shopping in one region and then moving to another, that some brands have very similar labels and packaging. Brands such as Hellmann’s have identical labeling and packaging as Best Foods. How can these brands get away with such blatant copyright infringement? Simple, they’re the same company – in fact, they’re the same product. It turns out that companies will vary the name of their product based on the region they’re selling it. This practice is a lot more common than you might think. Check out the story HERE, including a list of a few more companies engaging in the ‘same product, different name’ game.

That’s all the news that’s fit to blog about this week. We have another story involving the dark underbelly of a food product – but I want to do a little more digging and research before we share that one – expect that story in next Monday’s edition of Around The Culinary World. We’ve got another good week of cooking lined up. Maggie takes to the kitchen on Tuesday with a quick dish that I’m eager to try. I’ll follow her on Wednesday with a very unique twist on a classic comfort dish. It’s sure to be a fun week of cooking, so stop back in on Tuesday to see what Maggie has planned. Until then,


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