Label-Free Future?
Jamie Popp  
Managing Editor
Are consumers so inundated with health information that they don’t want to read labels anymore, or are we just getting lazy? I think it’s more the former than the latter, but it’s increasingly becoming the trend to make the shopping experience easier — and less of the label-reading exercise many of us have become accustomed to. By introducing logos; dividing low-fat, fat-free, carb-free products by colors; and retail promotions with symbols, consumer goods companies are appealing to the “in-and-out” shopping crowd tired of trying to understand what’s in their food.
PepsiCo’s new Smart Spot program, which offers a whole line of products with the Smart Spot symbol, is an example of the direction this trend is headed. No longer will we have to peruse an entire aisle in the grocery store looking for the product that satisfies our calorie, fat (or non-fat), sodium or carbohydrate needs. Nope. Per Pepsi’s program, now we can visit an in-store promotional display that features Tropicana, Gatorade and Diet Pepsi products and know each product we select will live up to the Smart Spot criteria, which meet the nutritional guidelines of the U.S. Food and Drug administration and National Academy of Sciences.
With the myriad product lines available in beverage companies such as PepsiCo, it makes sense that they would take advantage of the growing concerns people have about obesity and health/wellness by offering an easy-to-navigate system of selecting better-for-you products.
KTA Super Stores’ Kona Coffee Recipe Contest, held during this year’s Kona Coffee Cultural Festival in Hawaii, recognized culinary school and high school students for the best Kona coffee desserts. Winners received gift certificates to KTA Super Stores and trophies, and next year’s winners may receive a week of career shadowing with professional chefs.
Racing power
In collaboration with CASCAR driver Kerry Micks, Power Water, Toronto, Ontario, has entered the CASCAR racing circuit. Micks and Power Water’s Terry Coughlin were involved in designing the modified Taurus, which will appear in 12 CASCAR races and may race in some NASCAR events.
Backstage pass
Britian’s Newcastle Brown Ale and Kronenbourg, produced by Strasbourg, France-based Brasserie Kronenbourg, were part of a star-studded event at the Radio Music Awards in Las Vegas. Grammy Winning artists such as Brian McKnight, John Rich and Big Kenny from Big & Rich and Uncle Kracker tested the international brews backstage of the event.
Celebrity sighting
The American Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles was a hot event for celebrity appearances in November, and Rockstar Energy Drink was backstage hobnobbing with the elite. Celebs from Anna Nicole Smith to Snoop Dogg were spotted at the event, drinking the charged beverage.
Prat in the Big Apple
Two Noilly Prat vermouth cocktails were featured at this year’s Johnny Mercer Foundation gala held in the Rainbow Room in New York City. The “Ultimate Parisian Martini” and the “Manhattan” were served to guests such as Kathie Lee Gifford, who hosted the event, Frank Gifford, and Tony Danza. Additionally, Tony Bennett performed for guests, and designer Donald Dean staged a fashion show.
On the rocks
The Algonquin Hotel has given a whole new meaning to the classic martini-on-the-rocks cocktail. Customers at the New York City hotel can now select a diamond, with the help of the hotel’s preferred jeweler, to be served in a classic martini. Reservations are required, and the “Martini on the Rock” drink boasts a price tag as high as $10,000, depending on the diamond.