Leftovers: Wicked Kitchen brings lupini beans to ice cream; Kodiak crunches into cookies

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 some leftovers pulled from our inboxes.

A Wicked (Kitchen) take on plant-based ice cream

With their enviable nutritional profile and soil-enriching growth, it’s easy to say that lupini beans are good. Their starring turn in a new line of plant-based ice creams and novelties, however, also makes them Wicked.

After great success in the U.K. market, chef-created plant-based powerhouse Wicked Foods is bringing its lupini bean-based ice cream to the United States. The new spin on plant-based treats comes in four pint flavors — Vanilla, Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip and Cookie Dough — and as three novelties — Chocolate & Red Berry Cones, Berry White Sticks and Chocolate & Almond Sticks. These are now available at 2,200 Kroger stores, as well as several of Kroger’s banners.

The ice cream treats were formulated by Chad and Derek Sarno, the plant-based chef brothers behind the Wicked Kitchen phenomenon. The Sarno brothers also founded plant-based seafood brand Good Catch and have worked with retailers including Whole Foods and the U.K.’s Tesco.

At a virtual launch event this week, Derek Sarno described the three most important things he needs to see in plant-based launches: taste, texture and experience.

“As someone who’s eating the ice cream, but for me personally as a chef, I need to be able to deliver an experience that I enjoyed when I did eat animals, because there’s no compromise on this ice cream,” he said. “Texture is super important, whether I’m creating mushroom steaks or creaminess of the ice cream. And taste with no aftertaste.”

Derek Sarno said that he landed on lupini bean as the base ingredient for the ice cream because its texture was unparalleled, it had no aftertaste as other common plant-based ice cream bases do, and it was innovative.

The sweet and creamy desserts may be made from legumes, but they don’t taste like it. A video from Natural Products Expo West shared at the virtual event shows consumers raving about the mouthfeel and similarity to dairy-based ice cream.  

Lupini beans, which are native to the Mediterranean region, are a popular snack and ingredient in cuisine from that area. Even as U.S. consumers have become more interested in plant proteins, the legume hasn’t made a huge breakthrough on this side of the Atlantic Ocean yet. Lupini beans are the star ingredient of protein-packed snack bars from Lupii, and Brami sells snackable whole pickled beans, as well as dips made out of the legumes. But until now, they haven’t made a spotlighted debut in any larger brand’s offerings.

The launch is another big step for Wicked Kitchen, which first came to the U.S. in July. And there’s much more to come from the company this year. CEO Pete Speranza said at the virtual event that Wicked Kitchen is expanding beyond Kroger stores, and will be available at about 6,000 locations nationwide by the end of summer. More frozen products are on their way for U.S. consumers as well. And Wicked Kitchen plans an overseas expansion to Asia in the next few months.

“There’s change of the food system overall, and we want to be a big part of that,” Speranza said.

— Megan Poinski


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Permission granted by Kodiak Cakes


Kodiak sweetens portfolio with cookie launch

Best known for its waffles and flapjacks, Kodiak Cakes is hoping consumers will show a similar appetite for its new cookie offerings.

Kodiak Cakes said similar to its prior offerings, its Thin and Crispy cookies are made with real and nutrient-dense ingredients, including 100% whole grains. Each serving has 140 Calories and 5 grams of protein. They are available in three flavors: chocolate chip, chocolate chip walnut and oatmeal raisin.

“The cookie space, in particular, was missing a good whole grain/added protein option that you could feel better about eating,” Brandon Porras, vice president of marketing at Kodiak Cakes, said in an email. “We are a company that is laser-focused on putting better food options into as many consumers’ hands as we possibly can. In order to chase that goal, we will need to enter more categories beyond breakfast.”

The new cookies will be sold at Kroger, Stop & Shop and online, as well as other channels. 

Kodiak is no stranger to the dessert and snack category. It previously launched protein-packed Chocolate Fudge Brownie mix, Birthday Cake Baking mix and Bear Bites Crackers. It also offers Power Flour, the brand’s high-protein replacement for regular white flour. 

“We are definitely a lot more well known for our breakfast items but have seen a lot of traction in the snacking space over the last 1-2 years with our launch into graham cracker bites, crunchy bars, and chewy bars,” Porras said. “Thin and Crispy Cookies is just the next extension to our snacking space.”

Kodiak will be going up against several competitors who have entered the category for the first time or rolled out new products to complement existing products.

Mondelēz International acquired Tate’s Bake Shop, a brand best known for its premium bagged chocolate chip cookies, for around $500 million four years ago. And Sovos Brands’ Birch Benders, which made a name for itself with the top-selling pancake and waffle mix in the natural channel, announced it was entering the cookie category last month.

— Christopher Doering


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Permission granted by Anheuser-Busch


Anheuser-Busch hardens its sparkling beverage lineup

Beer giant Anheuser-Busch is getting bold with Neon Burst, its latest hard sparkling beverage that targets a key consumer.

Neon Burst is available in two varieties: Punch Blast, a blend of tropical fruit flavors such as pineapple, passionfruit and orange with raspberry, cherry, and apple, and Grape Blowout, a combination of grape and citrus. The beverages contain 8% alcohol by volume with less than 5 grams of sugar and 170 calories per 12-ounce serving, according to a press release shared with Food Dive.