frozenGoods_bodyJust like pre-game exercises can help a baseball player avoid injuries during a game, a little healthy snacking can help people curb those between-meal hunger pains. Unfortunately, when their stomachs begin to grumble, people often reach for prepared foods that they can consume straight out of a bag or box—items that are often laden with calories, sodium and other undesirable ingredients.

From freezer to oven to table
Now, consumers looking for better-for-you alternatives need only reach inside their freezers.

Farm Rich, a brand of Rich Products Corp. in St. Simons Island, Ga., recently introduced Stuffed Pretzel Bites, which are soft pretzel pieces filled with cheddar cheese that go from freezer to oven (or microwave) to plate in minutes. One serving of Stuffed Pretzel Bites (three pieces) has 110 calories, 3 g. of fat and no trans fat.

“We know that consumers want pretzels and view them as a healthier choice,” says Farm Rich brand manager Shannon Gilreath. “We pride ourselves on bringing a wide array of interesting products into the marketplace that are tried-and-true. This product takes cheese and cheese sticks to brand new heights, giving consumers a more fun, exciting way to satisfy their cheese craving. Pretzels are a great carrier for cheese, so [this product] naturally lends itself to Farm Rich’s portfolio.”

But the cheesy filling does more than just tantalize cheese lovers’ tastebuds and curb before- or between-meal hunger pangs; it also provides protein and calcium.

At a suggested retail price of $6.99 per 34- to 38-piece bag, Farm Rich Stuffed Pretzel Bites enable consumers to serve family members and friends warm, tasty, better-for-you products without putting a dent in the budget. The product is available nationwide at Walmart and grocery stores.

Seafood starters
Also stepping up to the plate to deliver a tasty, new frozen appetizer that’s sure to be a hit with seafood lovers is Phillips Foods Inc. in Baltimore, which has been operating Phillips Seafood Restaurants in the mid-Atlantic region for more than 50 years. Introduced in March, Phillips Seafood Flatbreads come in three types: Bourbon BBQ Shrimp; Chesapeake Crab; and Asiago Artichoke & Crab, and are in-line with the company’s other offerings.

“Our brand was developed to build on the success and long history Phillips has as a seafood restaurant,” says vice president of marketing Honey Konicoff. “Our retail line started with our core signature products and has expanded to include innovative, restaurant-driven items from soups to appetizers to entrées.

Flatbreads are hot on restaurant menus, not to mention in supermarkets. We took the simple, pizza-like concept further to make an innovative adaptation of the flatbread, and then loaded it with rich ingredients and, of course, premium seafood.”

While introduced as appetizers, Phillips Seafood Flatbreads also make quick and easy-to-prepare, shareable items and meals. “At 7.4 oz. [per package], it’s certainly something you can share or eat yourself,” says Konicoff. “While it’s two servings, it’s definitely doable for two people with a salad and sides, or for one person as an entrée.”

Konicoff recommends retailers position the products in their stores’ seafood section, adding that at a suggested retail price of $5.99 per box, they are not priced to be competitive with flatbreads in the bread section. Phillips Seafood Flatbreads have a one-year frozen shelf life.

Unlike foods that can be snacks, appetizers or meals—edible utility players, so to speak—the dinner roll’s usual function on a restaurant or family dining table is to curb diners’ hunger until the entrée arrives. For today’s time-pressed consumers, making rolls from scratch is usually impossible. Serving families cold, store-bought rolls is undesirable. The solution? Pre-baked rolls that go from freezer to oven to table in less than 30 minutes.

Introduced last October, Sister Schubert’s Multi-Grain Rolls offer consumers the same convenience and homemade taste that its original Sister Schubert’s Rolls do, but are made with 100%-whole wheat, oats and millet, flax and sunflower seeds and molasses. In addition, they contain 0 g. trans fat and no artificial flavors, preservatives or high-fructose corn syrup. The rolls can be found in grocers’ freezers for a suggest retail price of $3.79.

The closers
A delicious meal deserves to be capped with a decadent dessert, much like a ball player’s game-winning grand slam deserves a standing ovation from fans. For many consumers, a slice of rich, high-quality cheesecake is the perfect after-meal closer. For others, it makes a delectable treat to eat alone or share with others.
Eli’s Cheesecake Co., Chicago, introduced two new frozen cheesecakes in December that will have consumers crowding their plates—White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake, which features red peppermint candies, a creamy vanilla mousse and a dark chocolate cookie crust; and Double Chocolate Cheesecake, which offers a thick slab of fudge brownie made with Ghirardelli cocoa, a layer of creamy chocolate cheesecake made with Ghirardelli chocolate, hand-piped chocolate mousse and a dusting of Ghirardelli cocoa. The former is available only during the winter holidays, while the latter is available all year.

Also part of the company’s year-round lineup is a new Salted Caramel Cheesecake, made with gluten-free ingredients. The creamy, caramel concoction is baked on a sweet-and-salty almond crust topped with a thick bed of buttery caramel and a sprinkle of almonds.

All three products are made with cultured cream cheese, heavy cream, eggs and sugar. “They are an indulgent treat,” says Debbie Marchok, vice president of marketing for Eli’s Cheesecake. “People want high-quality products that are made with really good, locally sourced ingredients—ingredients that are clean and wholesome. They’ll just eat less. So what you’ll see is people cutting back on their portion size, but not necessarily skipping dessert. Everyone likes to enjoy a treat.”

Commoditization of cheesecake
But Marchok says she has also seen a “commoditization of cheesecake” in the past few years, as other companies sell cheesecake made with lower quality ingredients at more attractive price points. “You look at their ingredients statement, and it has margarine, partially hydrogenated oils and a lot of other things,” she says. “The product tastes okay, but the consumer doesn’t have as much education and information as they need to really know what makes a great cheesecake. It’s the percentage of cultured cream cheese, the Grade AA butter and the pure vanilla. So, [another cheesecake] tastes similar, but it’s still not quality. Branding is really important [in the cheesecake category].”

Eli’s Cheesecakes are shipped frozen to grocery stores, convenience stores, drugstores and other retail outlets throughout the country. Each cheesecake is 7 in. in diameter and has a suggested retail price of $12.99 for a 24-oz. box.

Whether consumers are looking for an appetizer, meal or dessert, frozen baked good manufacturers are committed to staying in the game.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about these and other frozen baked goods, go to and check out our online new products section.