Food manufacturers attempting to attract young consumers can get great ideas by looking outside of their respective supermarket aisle.

Food manufacturers attempting to attract young consumers can get great ideas by looking outside of their respective supermarket aisle-or with dairy processors, looking outside the refrigerated case-to observe other marketers' approach to the pre-teen consumer.

With drinks, new Pez® 100% Juices come in foil containers topped with an assortment of collectable character heads, like its namesake candy. The first run of the product uses 28 original Pez candy heads. Besides appealing to kids, "Some of the characters have been out of production [as candy toppers] for many years and are highly sought after by Pez aficionados," says Dave Read, president, Leading Brands Inc., Vancouver, Canada, distributors of the juice line.

Ralph McRae, chairman and CEO, adds, "Pez 100% Juice is representative of our efforts to deliver products that are both innovative and good for you. Parents are drawn to the drink because of its high quality and nutritional value and children are excited to see it in their lunchbox because it tastes great and is also a lot of fun."

With salsa replacing ketchup for many teens, Heinz North America, Pittsburgh, is getting younger kids back on track with this all-American tomato condiment. Cool colors, such as green, purple and blue, are the trick.

"It's not ketchup for mom or dad," says Heinz spokesperson Robin Teets. "If parents think it's a little strange, that's all the better for kids."

With ketchup in colors, and the handy squeeze bottle feature, hamburger patties have become a canvas to kids.

Peanut butter, an American favorite among children, breaks its sandwich-spread reputation with the debut of Skippy® Squeeze Stix™, a flexible tube with tear notch that enables kids to squeeze out the peanut butter for an on-the-go snack.

Unilever Bestfoods North America, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., created a brand character to launch the new product. "We tested a range of character styles. Some were edgy, some a bit quirky, others more approachable. There were even a few scoundrels," says Martha Seidner Gelber, v.p., Smith Design, Glen Ridge, N.J. "Moms, kids and tweens helped us define and refine his expression, style and attitude. We wanted to make sure we stayed away from any polarizing characters and package designs. Kids and tweens needed to relate to the brand character, but we also needed the buy-in from moms."

In addition to snacking tubes, Skippy peanut butter for sandwiches and crackers just got easier, a bit safer (no knife required) and more sanitary (no double dipping) with Squeez 'It™, a crimped plastic tube that stands on its flip-top dispensing closure.

Peanut butter is dispensed through a slotted orifice that allows users to easily "squeeze it" out. Package labels feature the brand's animated character, squeezing peanut butter onto a slice of bread. A voice bubble caption reads: "Lose the knife!"

The fact that Kellogg's® Corn Flakes has been a breakfast tradition since 1906 does not make it any less appealing to kids, thanks to the Battle Creek, Mich.-based cereal manufacturers' use of kid-appealing characters on box front panels. "Beauty and the Beast" captures the attention of the under-10 crowd just as much as Scooby-Doo™ and "that silly rabbit."

With the nation in an obesity crisis, there's a great deal of attention being placed on kids' eating habits. Niché salad dressing manufacturers, through the use of colors and flavors, are developing products to help convince kids that carrots and broccoli can be as fun for snacking as chips and candy.

Kids can dip veggies and top salads with vitamin-packed Purple Pizzazz and Outrageous Orange Naturally Fresh® Kids' Ranch dressings from Eastern Foods Inc., Atlanta.

The colorful dressings are fortified with vitamins A, B, C, D and E.

Annie's Naturals, North Calais, Vt., recently rolled out a dressing line for kids in flavors such as Pizza Pie, Tutti Fruitti and Zoom. Pizza Pie tastes like its namesake.

Tutti Fruitti blends nine fruit flavors for a tropical punch profile. And Zoom combines tahini and honey to deliver a nut-like flavor, but is free of allergen-causing nut ingredients. The company runs on the principle that if kids are enticed to eat vegetables and salads at an early age, healthful eating will be part of their lifestyle as they become adults.

These food manufacturers identified unique ways to market directly to kids. Dairy processors can, too.