Sweet Island Heat
The Nosh Pit is a column devoted to niche, not-so-mainstream bakery and snack food products. Here, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery features a mishmash of creative ideas and magnificently orchestrated kitsch that is embraced with open arms … and mouths!
Some like it hot … and some like it even hotter. Now, consumers can test their tongues’ tolerance with Hula Hotties cookies. Melding a combination of smooth, sweet sugar cookies with the fiery molten lava-like kick of habaneros, chipotle peppers or jalapeños, Hula Hotties make for a taste of Aloha to remember.
The cookies are the brainchild of Jill Inforzato, owner and president of Hawaii-based Band and Bakery, Inc. In addition to being a nationally acclaimed home economist and product developer of the aptly named Hula Hotties, Inforzato produces three other award-winning hot and spicy snack lines, including Hula Girl Products, which features bottled hot sauces and shortbread cookies; South Point Salsa, which specializes in fresh salsa shipped to the Big Island; and Jill’s Country Kitchen, which bakes up cakes and cookies for hotels, restaurants, C-stores and gift shops. Hula Hotties also boasts a line of hot and spicy chocolate candy bars.
“[Hula Hotties] is a specialty product line that is appreciated by ‘Chili Heads’ everywhere that is ahead of the curve, but is finally starting to catch on in the mainstream snack market with the public’s increasing awareness of ‘sweet heat’ snacks,” Inforzato says. “We don’t try to compete with existing mega-markets, but try to invent our own niche where possible.”
Inforzato came up with the tropical-themed cookies after winning the 2004 Fiery Food Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, for her Hula Girl Chipotle Habanero Hot Sauce. As for the Hula Hotties name, just look at the eye-catching Bettie Page retro pin-up style packaging — hula skirts and all — designed by Inforzato’s husband, Roger Simpson, an award-winning graphic designer.
Now, consumers can do a little bit of their own island-hopping by diving into a bag of flavorful Hula Hotties. The hot snacks will transport taste buds to a provocative paradise. Try the Lime-Coconut-Jalapeño Sugar Cookies, rolled in pearl sugar grains, to keep that hot and sweet thing going. Feeling a little Blue Hawaii? Nibble Blueberry-Chipotle Sugar Cookies to get that inner Elvis rocking. Made with real blueberries, blueberry compound and dried chipotle chilies, the cookies also are rolled in pearl sugar grains. Cherry “C” Habanero Fudge Cookies — the “C” stands for chocolate — are packed with Michigan tart cherries and blend the flavors of tart and sweet.
“We are in the specialty snack line [market] for adventurous people,” Inforzato says.
Band and Bakery has been in the wholesale cake and cookie-baking business for 20 years, servicing hotels, restaurants, resorts and grocery, specialty and convenience stores.
“The new cookie lines are slowly replacing the cake business as snacking keeps on growing,” Inforzato adds. “We bake and package at our location here in Ocean View near famous South Point and Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, and our delivery route of 225 miles around the island goes twice a week.”
To satisfy your craving for “Haiwaiiana,” as Inforzato calls it, slip on your flip-flops, sling on your lei, and call Band and Bakery at 1- 866-666-1642. To order direct, visit www.hulagirlhotsauce.com or www.jillscountrykitchen.com. The cookies come in a range of sizes and are priced from $1.95 to $9.95.
Chew On This
Hawaii is the most isolated population center on earth. It’s 2,390 miles from California, 3,850 miles from Japan, 4,900 miles from China, and 5,280 miles from the Philippines.