Consumers have a taste for PB&J vodka, BLT chips, Dorito tacos
BY BRUCE HOROVITZ April 18, 2012 2:04PM
PB&J vodka. “It’s not a PR stunt, but I’m getting more PR than I bargained for,” says Norman Bonchick, CEO of Van Gogh Imports, which this month rolled out $25 bottles of PB&J vodka.
Updated: April 18, 2012 2:11PM
This weird flavor stuff may be getting tough to swallow in 2012.
Like BLT potato chips. PB&J vodka. Birthday cake Oreos. Tacos made of Doritos. Rainbow sherbet gum. And, for the strong of stomach, bacon milkshakes.
At issue: Are marketers reaching to the very limits of their powers to extend and differentiate their brands in order to attract attention and ring up sales in very tough times, or have America’s taste buds really become this wacky?
It appears to be the latter. “Hasn’t every 8-year-old wanted to gross out the adult in the room?” poses Lynn Dornblaser, new product innovation guru at research specialist Mintel. “Now, your inner 8-year-old can do just that.”
Among 2012’s rollouts that dare consumers to try them:
†BLT chips. Frito-Lay spent one year developing the Lay’s chip that’s hitting grocery shelves this month. It tested 25 versions before nailing it, says Christine Kalvenes, VP of innovation. “We are constantly experimenting to push the envelope.”
†PB&J vodka. “It’s not a PR stunt, but I’m getting more PR than I bargained for,” says Norman Bonchick, CEO of Van Gogh Imports, which this month rolled out $25 bottles of PB&J vodka. He concedes it may attract the attention of kids, but, “It’s the responsibility of the parent not to keep it out.”
†Birthday cake Oreos. To celebrate Oreo’s 100th birthday in March, Kraft rolled out Birthday Cake Oreos with birthday cake flavor and sprinkles in the cream. “In and out flavors is how we grow our business,” says Lisa Mann, U.S. vice president of cookies at Kraft.
†Doritos tacos. The Doritos Locos Tacos that Taco Bell rolled out last month, with a Doritos taco shell, is such a hit that it’s already planning to roll out the Cool Ranch version later this year, says Brian Niccol, marketing chief.
†Rainbow sherbet gum. Wrigley, in January, launched Extra Dessert Delight Rainbow Sherbet Gum. Chew — and instant dessert.
†Bacon milkshakes. When Jack in the Box rolled out its BLT Cheeseburger in February, it briefly promoted a bacon shake via social media, too, says spokesman Brian Luscomb.
“Curiosity can be a pretty strong impulse,” he says. “It can drive people to try things they might not otherwise dare.”