TORTILLA CHIPS
No Pain with Grains
By Deborah Cassell

The next time you step on the scale, consider this: If washed-up, B-list celebrities such as pop star Tiffany, “Saved by the Bell’s” once-lovable “Screech” and “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” Brady can embrace healthier foods, so can you.
But unlike “Celebrity Fit Club” contestant — and country music artist — Cledus T. Judd, you don’t have to turn to chicken and broccoli. Some of your favorite snacks are better for you than you think.
Take chips and salsa. For years, consumers have been frequenting Mexican restaurants where baskets of tortilla chips are standard fare. Today, those baskets include the low-fat, low-sodium, baked, multigrain products that are weighing down chip aisles everywhere.
Nice Profile
For serious dieters, the ultimate goal is to be healthier and, in turn, look and feel better … from all angles. Snack foods hope to do the same with increasingly healthful profiles.
For example, in 2006, Frito-Lay introduced Tostitos Baked Scoops! Ideal for dipping in salsa, according to the Plano, Texas-based company, the chips contain “half the fat of regular tortilla chips” and just 120 calories per serving.
Meanwhile, new Herr’s Multigrain Dippers from Herr Foods, Nottingham, Pa., are filled with the rich, toasted flavor of 10 hearty grains and include sesame, poppy and caraway seeds for a well-rounded flavor and enticing texture. Herr’s also has a new Natural line featuring blue corn tortilla chips.
In December, Madhouse Munchies, Colchester, Vt., also launched an all-natural line of stone-ground white and blue corn tortilla chips. Each is made with 100% high mono-unsaturated canola oil for a light, clean, crisp product. Madhouse Munchies are free of saturated and trans fat, and contain just 110 mg. of sodium per serving.
Meanwhile, this June, Shearer’s Foods, Inc., Brewster, Ohio, rolled out its own multigrain tortilla chips. It also reformulated its Whole Grain Black Bean and Salsa Tortilla Chips to contain 3 g. of fiber per serving.
“This allows Shearer’s to exceed a ‘good source of fiber’ claim without sacrificing great taste and texture on an established product,” says Paul Smith, director of marketing. “We are also planning flavor extensions for this new base.”
The addition of fiber, where possible, makes a lot of sense, Smith adds.
“Consumers are becoming better educated in the role fiber can play in the feeling of satiety and digestive health, and they are looking for ways to increase fiber in their diets without sacrificing great taste,” he explains. “Shearer’s has added fiber to our whole grain tortillas this year to directly meet this opportunity.”
Tortilla/Tostada Chips — Top 15 Brands
(For 52 weeks ending March 25, 2007)
Rank Brand Dollar Sales (in millions) % Change Dollar Share Dollar Share Change vs. Previous Year
1 Doritos $659.7+4.533.4-0.6
2 Tostitos $449.1+5.022.7-0.3
3 Tostitos Scoops $218.9+22.811.1+1.5
4 Private Label $92.7+11.14.7+0.2
5 Santitas $84.0+4.74.3-0.1
6 Mission $57.0+6.72.90.0
7 Tostitos Gold $34.3-10.51.7-0.3
8 Tostitos Natural $24.8+10.21.30.0
9 Baked Tostitos $21.6+48.51.1+0.3
10 Tostitos Light $18.3-13.30.9-0.2
11 Baked Doritos $17.3-31.80.9-0.5
12 Snyders of Hanover $16.5+69.30.8+0.3
13 On the Border $16.2+19.30.8+0.1
14 Garden of Eatin Blue Chips $15.9+5.50.80.0
15 Old Dutch $12.9-17.00.7-0.2
Total, including brands not shown $1,975.5 +6.4100.0  
Source: Information Resources, Inc.
Total U.S. – Supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers (excluding Wal-Mart)
Color-Conscious
Whether baked, all-natural or multigrain, tortilla chips still have to taste good. Today’s offerings come in all the flavors — and colors — of the rainbow.
For example, blue, white, red and yellow corn tortilla chips are the bill of fare from Garden of Eatin’, a brand from Hain Celestial Group, Inc., Melville, N.Y.
And in January, Jay’s Potato Chips from Ubiquity Brands, Chicago, began producing a line of Mexican snack foods that includes tortilla chips in three colorful varieties: Salsa Verde, Salsa Roja and Yellow Corn. The authentic chips come in bilingual Spanish/English packaging and are designed to appeal to the growing Hispanic community in Chicago, as well as other consumers.
Colorful Mexican snacks likely were the inspiration for Kettle Foods, which earlier this year came out with five tortilla chip varieties that it dubbed “Cinco Delicious.”
“We hope our tortilla chips inspire what we call ‘Margarita Moment,’ those times when friends and family bond with each other over good food and drink” says Michelle Peterman, vice president of marketing for Kettle Foods, Salem, Ore. “Just like our potato chips, we think everyone will have a favorite flavor.”
Kettle Brand consumers can choose from Black Bean (nicknamed Sabor Loco, or “flavor crazy”), Chili Lime (spicy red chili combined with citrus), Blue Corn (“the perfect party guest”), Multi Grain (a blend of six organic grains) and Yellow Corn (“the quintessential tortilla chip”). All are made with Oregon Tilth-certified organic corn and all-natural seasonings. They’re also trans fat-free. As if that weren’t enough, the chips come in brightly colored “party-sized” bags.
Regardless of the color, flavor or profile, the variety of tortilla chips in stores leaves no excuse for shoppers — and dieters — to avoid healthier snacks.
Remember: The nutritional panel doesn’t lie. And neither does the scale. SOI
Fight Club
Frito-Lay this year invited consumers to choose the next Doritos variety in its “Fight for the Flavor” campaign. Two flavors duked it out on supermarket shelves nationwide before the Plano, Texas-based company declared the competition over.
The winner: Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ, which beat out Wild White Nacho to earn itself a permanent place in stores alongside classic Nacho Cheese Doritos, as well as more recent additions, including Cool Ranch, Spicy Nacho, Fiery Habanero and Blazin’ Buffalo & Ranch.
“We want Doritos fans to continue to tell us what they want to see, from the advertising to our next flavor and beyond,” says Ann Mukherjee, vice president of marketing for Frito-Lay.
Currently, Doritos is running another campaign to name the next variety it introduces to consumers. The “X-13D Flavor Experiment” allows visitors to the brand’s Web site, www.Doritos.com, to register for a chance to become a Flavor Master and taste Doritos’ latest creation before giving it a moniker. The campaign’s tagline — “Get it, taste it, name it.” — says it all.
Cheese Factor
All reality shows have a cheese factor — that is, a certain amount of silliness that makes viewers groan … but also keeps them tuned in.
Cheese snacks might be a small portion of the snack food industry, but they are no less necessary to consumers with a craving for orange fingertips and tongues.
For example, the O-KE-DOKE brand from Ubiquity Brands, Chicago, now features a line of extruded cheese snacks.
“Our extruded O-KE-DOKE is baked, not fried like the market leader,” says Kris Malkoski, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Ubiquity Brands.
O-KE-DOKE represents a premium, highly involved real cheese experience that the whole family can enjoy, lending itself to “Cheesy, Family Fun,” she adds.
Hot Stuff Cheezlets is another Ubiquity Brands offering from its Jay’s Potato Chips division.
Also in this category, Brewster, Ohio-based Shearer’s Foods, Inc. recently reformulated its Shearer’s Cheese Curls to be trans fat-free … but just as cheesy as your favorite reality TV program.