In other snacking news, Northfield, IL-based Kraft introduced new Cheese Nips in licensed shapes from Nickelodeon, such as SpongeBob SquarePants and Rocket Power, and from Universal Studios, E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial (MSRP, $2.49 per 10.5-oz. box). SpongeBob also joined the Macaroni & Cheese dinner family, where Blue's Clues (Nickelodeon) and Scooby-Doo (Warner Bros.) already live (MSRP, 88 cents to 95 cents per 5.5 oz.-box). E.T. also is making a splash in the Teddy Grahams graham snacks family.
The most recent ready-to-license play snack comes in the form of Gummi Army Guys, from Albanese Confectionery Group in Hobart, IN. Similar in shape to the little green plastic Army Men toys, the Albanese-made snacks depict soldiers with ammunition. "They are something kids can play with on the kitchen table," says Larry Albanese, "and kids always want to play with their food." Albanese explains he was motivated to finally complete the molds for the military-theme candy-a four-year-old work-in-progress-after seeing confectionery carrying the likeness of Osama Bin Laden.
Bravo! Foods, based in North Palm Beach, FL, and Warner Bros. have been co-branding flavored milk with Looney Tunes for about a year or so, initially abroad but now almost fully distributed domestically. Characters such as Taz on chocolate milk are reaching about 4,900 grocer doors. Scooby-Doo is appearing on bottled water and flavored drinks distributed in Mexico by Embotelladora Cactus.
In other Mexican marketing news, Marinela, a leading brand of snack cakes, leveraged the massive popularity of World Cup Soccer by putting its consumers into the game. In June, Marinela gave away Futbol CD-ROM games, developed by New York-based BrandGames, free with purchase. In the game, Marinela's brand characters compete with the Mexican national soccer team players, much like the premium (also developed by BrandGames) wherein General Mills-owned cereal characters competed with Major League Baseball athletes.
SoBe, maker of herbally enhanced beverages and a division of PepsiCo, is running a summer sweepstakes promotion with MAD magazine (owned by Warner Bros.). Its Love Bus Brew, a drink concocted of real milk, Dutch chocolate, and ginseng, is the vehicle for the sweepstakes; the grand prizewinner will grace the pages of the humor magazine. MAD artwork and slogans are appearing on print ads, on in-store advertising, and under Love Bus Brew bottlecaps.
Fun for Adults
On a much more adult-targeted note, gourmet chocolate marketer Chocoholics Divine Desserts, based in Stockton, CA, romanced new product introductions such as Chocolate Body Soap ($12 to $15 per bar), the Strip Chocolate board game ($25 to $30), and Body Talk Tattoos. Kid-friendly molds are in development. Chocoholics Divine Desserts, which also markets chocolate pasta, cookies, and truffles, is open to licensing opportunities.
In spicy pockets of the food licensing world, Paul CP McIlhenny, president and CEO of McIlhenny Company (Avery Island, LA), which owns 135-plus-year-old hot sauce brand Tabasco, says he has been in co-branding discussions with manufacturers of vegetable juice and mayonnaise. Tabasco's current food ingredient licensees include Heinz for ketchup and Hormel for chili. The newest co-branding ventures include the test marketing of microwavable Tabasco cheese-flavored popcorn, via Chicago-based Houston Harvest. Houston Harvest has been a resource for the ready-to-eat Tabasco cheese-flavored popcorn for about a year-and-a-half.
In Tabasco's non-food licensing relationships, brokered by IMC Licensing in Louisville, KY, Kay Dee Designs based in Hope Valley, RI, is launching a line of kitchen textiles, replacing licensee John Ritzenthaler. Also, Atlanta-based In Zone debuted Tabasco-branded melamine tabletop, and is shipping a preliminary line to retail now. The full line should be introduced over the next six to 12 months.
For foods with a different kind of kick, Southern Comfort, a Brown-Forman adult beverage, recently launched eggnog from Chelsea, MA-based H.P. Hood. Colony South in Charleston, SC, which introduced Southern Comfort grilling sauces for the gourmet tier about a year ago, just broke into supermarket distribution. Another recent addition: Confectioner Toms International, based in Ballerup, Denmark, currently is developing a Southern Comfort spirit-filled chocolate and a truffle. IMC Licensing handles Southern Comfort.
The Halifax Group in Atlanta debuted new sauces and condiments for alcohol beverage brands such as Scotland-based Drambuie and Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon. Halifax markets spicy ketchup and marinade, jams, jellies, steak sauces, and pancake syrup.
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