Hot weather and activity-filled days prompt many consumers to opt for light, fuss-free fare during the summer months. After all, who wants to spend time in the kitchen preparing a sit-down meal when there are carnivals, festivals and fairs to attend? A bag of all-natural nuts or trail mix can make for a healthy, take-along snack (or meal) for those who want to get the most out of every summer hour.
Ford’s Gourmet Foods’ Fire Dancer Honey Jalapeño nuts, for instance, are made with North Carolina-grown jumbo peanuts, sugar, honey, jalapeño pepper powder, paprika and other all-natural ingredients. In addition, they contain no preservatives and are gluten-free, certified-kosher and parève (made without milk, meat or their derivatives). Consumers can find them in select specialty retailers nationwide, as well as on the company’s website, for a suggested retail price of $8.99 per 11-oz. tin.
According to Patrick Ford, vice president of marketing for the Raleigh, N.C.-based company, customer requests prompted Ford’s Gourmet Foods to add a honey-roasted flavor to its Fire Dancer line. “Some people would tell us they like the sweet and the heat together, like with our hot Bone Suckin’ sauce, so we thought it would be an easy move to put the sweet in with the all-natural, spicy flavors,” says Ford. “They’ve been a tremendous hit.”
Poppa D’s Butter Toffee Redskin peanuts, an all-natural, butter toffee, redskin peanut that combines sweet and salty flavors, have been a hit with consumers, too. According to Lee Goldberg, co-founder and managing partner of Poppa D’s Nuts in Orlando, Fla., the company expected to sell about 5,000 bags during its first six months. Instead, it sold more than 30,000 bags. “We blew our expectations out of the water,” he says.
These peanuts are available in 2-oz. snack-sized bags and 4-oz. stand-up, resealable bags for $2.50-$3.95 in select stores nationwide, including 7-Eleven stores in Florida; KwikShop stores in the Midwest; Rouses Supermarkets in Louisiana and parts of Mississippi; and mom-and-pop stores, bars, sports arenas and other venues as well as on the company’s website.
Poppa D’s expects its next nut offering to be a hit, too. “Everybody’s been requesting a hot nut,” says Goldberg. Poppa D’s Hot Nuts are peanuts seasoned to taste like hot chicken wings, according to Goldberg, who won’t divulge the seasoning’s ingredients. The soon-to-be-launched product initially will be available in 4-oz. bags and only in Florida for $2.59.
Consumers who buy Our Daily Eats’ Thai Chili peanuts and Maple BBQ peanuts in bulk at food co-ops and in 12-oz. bags at farmers’ markets will soon be able to purchase them in 4.5- to 5-oz. bags at select retail outlets. “Our goal is to take those [flavors] and package them in stand-up, zip bags within the next six months or so,” says Paul Barrett, who co-owns the Albany, N.Y., company with his wife, Caroline Lewin Barrett.
Both products are made with Virginia jumbo peanuts roasted with maple syrup. The Maple BBQ variety is then treated with classic barbecue spices, such as chili, coriander and black pepper, while the Thai Chili kind is seasoned with chili, lime leaf and sea salt. “It starts out a little limey,” says Barrett. “Then, it can get a little sweet, and you end up with a little warmth in the end. It’s a nice snacking nut.”
The Our Daily Eats’ nut mixes, pepitas and salad topping are available in more than 70 retail outlets on the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida, as well as in stores in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma. Bag sizes range from 3.5 oz. to 4.5 oz. for $4.
Lord Nut Levington, a new line of seasoned peanuts launched in March by Holy Cow L.L.C. in Irving, Texas, offers consumers a choice of five unique offerings ranging from spicy to sweet: Rebel Mary, tomato and garlic powders mixed with traditional bloody Mary ingredients; El Cheddarales, cheddar cheese and jalapeño powders; Mamma Mia, a combination of tomato, garlic and cheese powders; Thai Dyed, a blend of Thai curry and lemongrass seasonings; and Cinnapplooza, a combination of cinnamon, apple and vanilla flavors.
“We were looking to come up with very creative flavors and something different for peanuts,” explains company founder Sanjiv Patel. “There really aren’t that many [peanut] flavors out there. Traditionally, there’s honey roasted, dry roasted and salted. Then, people start doing different types of nuts.”
But Holy Cow is all about branding, too. “I just don’t feel like this category is fun enough, so we’re building this whole branded experience,” says Patel. “The names are all tied into stories.” Consumers can discover the stories by purchasing an 8-oz. canister for $5.49 on the company’s website.
Patel says he plans to distribute the Lord Nut Levington line nationally with a $4.99 per can price point for retail outlets. Since its launch, the line has been picked up by KeHE Distributors, a U.S. distributor of natural and specialty food products, and United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), an independent national distributor of natural, organic and specialty foods and related products. Patel also is in discussion with a variety of retailers.
Hitting the trail
While nuts make the perfect summertime between-meal snack, trail mixes can offer on-the-go individuals a convenient, nutritious meal.
“Our trail mixes are all-natural,” says Stephanie Blackwell, owner of Aurora Products Inc. in Stratford, Conn. “We use the same ingredients in our trail mixes that we sell solo. Our biggest seller is our Cranberry Health Mix, which is doing phenomenal. We sell hundreds of thousands of pounds of that because it’s a good trail mix. It’s got walnuts, cranberries, almonds—it’s a very nutritious meal.”
Recent additions to Aurora Products’ extensive product line, which includes all-natural granola, grail mix, nuts, dried fruit and trail mixes, are Crunchy Asian Mix and Red, White and Blue Mix. The former contains edamame beans, cashews and wasabi peas, while the latter features yogurt-covered raisins, dried blueberries and dried cranberries. Both are available in 11-oz. plastic tubs with a suggested retail price of $4.99.
“If you want a really good-quality trail mix that has nutrients, then you pay a little bit more for it,” says Blackwell, explaining that many low-cost trail mixes often contain lots of raisins, small nut pieces, a few cranberries and imitation M&Ms.
Aurora Products’ products are sold primarily on the East Coast at supermarkets, all-natural food chains, T.J.Maxx, Marshalls and other retail outlets. They’re also available through the company’s website.
Major health food stores nationwide and online are where consumers will find EatStrong Trail Mix, introduced in March by New York-based EatStrong, a company that specializes in weight management and sports nutrition. According to its package, EatStrong Trail Mix is “real food in a snack.” The blend of walnuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax and organic chocolate drops was developed to serve as a pre- or post-workout snack, or as a quick source of fuel during the day. A 1.6-oz. packet of EatStrong Trail Mix retails for $2.50.