Leftovers: Tom Brady hopes to score with pea protein; Unicorns bring magic to pudding cups

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Leftovers is our look at a few of the product ideas popping up everywhere — some are intriguing, some sound amazing and some are the kinds of ideas we would never dream of. We can’t write about everything that we get pitched, so here are the leftovers pulled from our inboxes.

Will this pea protein be a touchdown?

Tom Brady might have just won the Super Bowl, but it’s his new plant-based protein that needs to win over consumers.

The New England Patriots’ quarterback’s TB12 brand just launched vegan, plant-based protein powders made from peas that comes in vanilla and chocolate flavors, according to a press release emailed to Food Dive. Each bag includes 30 servings and sells for $40 on the company’s website.

“Peas pack a powerful protein punch — they are rich in lysine (an essential amino acid that is a key to muscle recovery) and arginine (a semi-essential amino acid that promotes healing and blood flow),” the company said in an email. 

Pea proteins have been gaining popularity in the past few years, showing up more often recently in baked goods. But the big market for pea protein is currently in sports supplements, smoothies and protein bars, and Brady’s star power could help attract those athletic consumers.

Although the organic protein powder is targeted at athletes, it also caters to free-from consumers. The product is also made without preservatives, gluten, soy or artificial flavors. Brady’s new pea proteins contain 24 grams of protein, 0 grams of sugar and have only six or seven ingredients. Shoppers are asking for more free-from products and fewer ingredients, so those following these trends could score with this protein powder.

— Lillianna Byington

Unicorn Magic pudding

Conagra

Unicorns invade the pudding section

Unicorns may be imaginary, but the endless number of food and beverage products latching on to the mythical creature has given them a life of their own on grocery store shelves.

Conagra Brands announced this week that Snack Pack, its shelf-stable pudding item, is introducing a “Unicorn Magic”-themed treat with “enchanting” pink and blue colors. Each six-pack Snack Pack, which retails for $2.79, comes with temporary tattoos “so kids can proudly show off their Unicorn love.” The company also is offering unicorn-themed games for children, as well as milkshake, pudding pop and sugar cookie recipes that use the pudding.

Conagra acknowledged the love people have for unicorns in announcing the magical treat. “We’re thrilled to continue that excitement by launching Unicorn Magic at a time when enthusiasm for unicorn food is so celebrated,” Erik Sword, senior brand manager for popcorn and sweet treats at Conagra, said in a statement. The Chicago company also noted unicorn cake was the top food item Google search in 2018.

Conagra is hardly the first company to embrace the popularity of these colorful creatures. Unicorn-themed products launched in recent years include Kellogg’s Unicorn Cereal, Pop-Tarts Unicorn Power, Brach’s Unicorn Horns candy corn, Polar Beverage’s Unicorn Kisses sparkling water and Little Debbie Unicorn Cakes.

But it might have been Starbucks that jumped the proverbial “unicorn” when it whipped up its controversial Unicorn Frappuccino in 2017, stoking a social media craze for the sweet and sour, pink and blue concoction.

— Christopher Doering

Ethos Chocolate varieties

Ethos Chocolate

Pro-GMO chocolate: BE my Valentine

Chocolate is often used on Valentine’s Day to send messages, usually pertaining to love. This year, a new chocolate brand talks about a different sort of admiration: the love of GMOs — or biologically engineered food, according to the new federal law. 

Ethos Chocolate bars have a distinct message printed right on the packaging. The gist of it: Food that consumers love — including papayas, apples, oranges and cacao — is becoming better and surviving difficult environmental conditions because of genetic modification.

“We know many Americans are passionate about chocolate, so we’ve created a product to tangibly illustrate the benefits of a technology that is often misunderstood,” Rebecca Larson, lead scientist for pro-GMO organization A Fresh Look, said in a press release. A Fresh Look launched Ethos Chocolates. “Chocolate is worth saving, so what could be a better embodiment of the benefits of biotechnology than creating our own line of chocolates to tell that story?”

The premium chocolates, made from sustainably grown cacao from the Dominican Republic, are sweetened with beet sugar (presumably from GMO crops) and flavored with different fruits. They are available for free until Valentine’s Day at Ethos Chocolate’s website.

And who wouldn’t love to receive some GMO treats for Valentine’s Day? Presumably quite a few consumers. After all, there are many who say they are “grossed out” by GMOs.

On the other hand, a sweet treat can help give consumers a tangible — and edible —  understanding of what GMOs are and why food companies and science have come together to modify some crops. Studies have shown that about 70% of consumers don’t know what GMOs are, and the strongest opponents know the least about them.

— Megan Poinski

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