EDITORS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2006

by James Dudlicek and Pamela Accetta Smith
JUST PLAIN GOOD

Wellness, function and added value dominate this year’s picks.

Probiotics. Prebiotics. Omega-3’s. All these wonderful things that are good for you are increasingly finding their way into things that taste great — and, of course, we mean things made from milk.
Many of our favorite products from the past year address wellness in one way or another; some offer packaging with beneficial attributes, while others are just plain tasty and fun.
Take a look and see if you agree.
Omega Farms Milk with Omega-3’s
Company: Omega Farms, Hayward, Calif.
Distribution: California; nationally through Wild Oats Markets.
Suggested Retail: $3.89 per 1/2 gallon.
Varieties: Vitamin D, 1% Low-Fat, 2% Reduced-Fat and Chocolate 2% Reduced-Fat.
Our Take: Omega Farms, a subsidiary of Pacific Cheese, is taking dairy as a functional food to the next level with a complete line of products enhanced with omega-3 fatty acid, known to be beneficial in treating ailments ranging from heart disease to arthritis. Four milk varieties head up an omega-3-spiked product line that also includes cheese and yogurt, with orange juice on the way. — J.D.
Stonyfield Farm® Vanilla Chai Ice Cream
Company: Stonyfield Farm Inc., Londonderry, N.H.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $3.29 to $3.59 per pint.
Our Take: This Zen-like product combines sprinkles of yoga and meditation! Stonyfield Farm has teamed up with the top-selling Honest Tea brand to mix Fair Trade-certified Kashmiri Chai into the company’s organic vanilla ice cream. The result is a creamy vanilla base with an added zing provided by rich spices like ginger, cinnamon and cardamom. I love it! For some reason you never feel guilty about eating this ice cream. — P.A.S.
Whitney’s Yo on the Go™ Smoothie
Company: Whitney’s Foods, Inc., Jamaica, N.Y.
Distribution: Nationally through Costco stores.
Suggested Retail: Varies per market.
Varieties: Strawberry, Mixed Berry and Banana.
Our Take: This product takes smoothies to the next level of convenience by eliminating refrigeration to make them even easier to tote to work, school or on long car trips. A blend of lowfat yogurt and fruit in an 8.25-ounce size, the aseptic Yo on the Go line is expected to be extended soon with a 4-ounce version containing a dose of DHA/omega-3. — J.D.
Bravo! Breakfast Blenders™
Company: Bravo Foods International, North Palm Beach, Fla.
Distribution: Nationally through 7-11 stores.
Suggested Retail: $1.59 per 11-ounce bottle.
Varieties: Vanilla Peach, Double French Vanilla, Chocolate Raspberry and Double Chocolate.
Our Take: Bravo Foods continues to come up with new dairy-based products targeting specific demographics. Well-known for its kid-centric Slammers line of fortified flavored milks, Bravo strikes this time with a meal-replacing beverage for the busy, on-the-go consumer. Blenders carry a hefty nutrient boost, including the probiotic fiber inulin. — J.D.
Sugar Brook® CheddaBrew™ Cheese Spread
Company: Sugar Brook Farms,Verona, Wis.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $2.99 to $3.49 per 7-ounce package.
Varieties: CheddaBlu and CheddaDew.
Our Take: Beer and cheese? What could possibly be better? This great spread is reminiscent of chilly fall days and beer taverns. CheddaBrew is a lusty combination of delicious cheddar and beer, a unique cheese spread that plays on the trends of pub food and bar menus — a few of my other favorites! — P.A.S.
Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey™ MilkShake
Company: Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., South Burlington, Vt.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $1.99 per 8-ounce bottle.
Varieties: Chocolate Fudge Brownie™ MilkShake and Cherry Garcia® MilkShake.
Our Take: This company’s Chunky Monkey ice cream has long been a favorite of mine. What a great idea to put it into a drinkable form! Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey MilkShake is a euphoric blend of milk, bananas, chocolate and other natural flavors. Of course, I am a big fan of the other flavors, too! — P.A.S.
Activia® Probiotic Yogurt
Company: The Dannon Co., White Plains, N.Y.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $2.49 for four, 4-ounce cups, $4.49 for 8-packs.
Varieties: Strawberry, Vanilla, Blueberry, Peach, Prune and Mixed Berry.
Our Take: Available in Europe for two decades, Activia has finally landed on U.S. shores for American consumers now seemingly prepared to embrace what their counterparts abroad have long understood: the benefits of probiotic cultures to digestive health. Dannon says its proprietary Bifidus Regularis™ helps reduce intestinal transit time, leading to better gut health. It’s already one of Groupe Danone’s best-selling yogurt products outside the United States, and we give Dannon a gold star for boosting the probiotic movement on the home front. — J.D.
Blue Bunny Personals™
Company: Wells’ Dairy Inc., Le Mars, Iowa.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $5 for four 8-ounce tubs.
Varieties: Tracks, Fudge Blitz, Peanut Butter Panic, Super Chunky Cookie Dough, Super Fudge Brownie and Toasted Almond Fudge; Light flavors: Tracks, Super Fudge Brownie, Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake, Double Strawberry and Vanilla.
Our Take: Personals were released not long after we revealed last year’s picks, so we had to make sure we went back to give them their due. With just two servings in each carton, it’s a great nod toward portion control. And though unrelated to this product, we also have to give Wells props for their new FreshLock™ 56-ounce container, boosting tamper evidence and freshness. — J.D.
Brown Cow™ Fruit & Whole Grains Yogurt
Company: Brown Cow Farm, Antioch, Calif.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: 89 cents per 8-ounce container.
Varieties: Summer Fruits & Grains, Apple Cinnamon & Grains, Raspberry Pear & Grains and Blueberry & Grains.
Our Take: Here is how most of our yogurt experiences take place: First, we purchase the yogurt, then the granola or cereal, and finally we saunter to the fruit aisle and linger over which fruit to pick to top our favorite breakfast treat. You know we all do it. After that, we methodically spoon out the yogurt, pour the granola, grains or cereal on top of the yogurt, and then we slice the fruit in perfect rows on the crown of granola, and so on and so on. Well, this product eliminates all of those tedious steps, yet packs the same great taste. Brown Cow Fruit & Whole Grains Yogurt offers the mix of lowfat yogurt, real fruit, whole grains, sunflower and flax seeds for a fresh-from-the-farm, all-in-one treat! — P.A.S.
Kraft® Grate-It-Fresh Parmesan Cheese
Company: Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $4.99 per 7-ounce grater.
Our Take: I have to be honest. Pizza, lasagna, spaghetti — all just vehicles (excuses, really) to transport one of my favorite toppers — parmesan cheese. When Kraft came out with this easy-to-use contraption, I jumped for joy. Well, not really, but you get the point. The dairy giant makes it easy for consumers to enjoy the fresh grated taste of parmesan cheese; this built-in grater freshly grates the parmesan with every twist. — P.A.S. (This made my cut, too — a neat way to add value to a known product that already smacks of brand equity. — J.D.)