food business

Mmmm. Tastes Like Brooklyn.

Exit Sign: Brooklyn Bridge, southbound at Cadman Plaza West.

The hot dogs and pastrami will be halal when the Brooklyn Diner opens this week in Dubai.
This, the third location and the only one outside of New York, will will have the same neon signs, Ebbets Field mural, and brass plaques with names of American celebrities and sport figures as the original. Noodle kugel will be served with the pot roast and egg creams will be made with Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup. They’ll still be using challah in the diner’s French toast, but it will be called egg bread, and the kosher pickles will be referred to as ‘sour dills.’
You don’t want to be too Jewish in Dubai. […]

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Eco-Friendly Wine: It’s Not Easy Being Green

.image via Certified International


You’ve heard of the French Paradox? You can call this the Napa Valley Paradox.

Organic tends to cost more than its conventional counterparts. It’s true for produce and dairy, meats and cleaning products. But when ‘organic’ appears on a wine label, it actually commands a lower price. […]

Posted in beer + wine + spirits, food business, sustainability | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Trend Watching 2011

image via Free Republic


It’s that time of year.

It’s the time when we look over the past twelve months and ahead to the next.
We make lists, savoring our favorite food moments of 2010, and identifying a few that are best left behind us. We try to see ahead of the curve, spotting the trends for 2011. […]

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The Sweetener Formerly Known As…


It worked for Prince.

By now you’ve probably heard about the public relations disaster that is the sweetener formerly known as high fructose corn syrup.
After years of waging a losing battle to convince the American public that HFCS is not really so bad, the Corn Refiners Association has petitioned the FDA for an ‘alternative labeling declaration,’ preferring the more natural-sounding moniker ‘corn sugar.’

Name changes are a common practice in today’s marketplace .
When a name—for one reason or another—just isn’t working, the strategy is to regroup, rebrand, and relaunch. We’ve seen it in the corporate world: who even remembers that AirTran was once ValuJet, an airline best known for safety violations and fatalities? Philip Morris hoped to distance itself from tobacco when it became Altria; the Nashville Network added CSI reruns to its low-rent lineup and reinvented itself as Spike TV; and then there is Sean Combs, patron saint of name changes, aka Puff Daddy, er Puffy, I mean P. Diddy, or is that just plain Diddy?

The food world has a long history of name changing.
Consumer tastes, diets, perceptions, and health concerns are constantly shifting, and food names and brands have had to be especially mutable to survive.

How Sweet it Was.

. […]

Posted in food business, food knowledge, media | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Kicking Around Any Ideas?

Are you the kid with the lemonade stand or the one with the quarter?

Kickstarter is the place for both of you.

Kickstarter connects people looking for money for their business projects with people willing to kick in.
It’s not a loan; it’s not an investment. It’s more like micro-patronage with a bit of crowd-sourced business advice.

In a nutshell:
Budding entrepreneurs post a video with their pitch and funding requirements.
Patrons pledge the funds in increments as small as a few dollars and up to $10,000. Pledges are pooled until the goal is met within a specific time frame.

It’s all or nothing. The rejection message is two-fold: the public has weighed in with a poor funding response, telling the hopeful entrepreneur that it’s back to the drawing board for a better concept; and it’s clear that a start-up shouldn’t be launched without sufficient resources.

Patrons are generally rewarded in the form of project mementos or perks—recently a $10 pledge brought a snack bag from an organic nut roaster, and $120 pledged to an occasional spice club (like spice-of-the month but, you know, not as regular) got you a year’s membership, a spice named for you, AND a refrigerator magnet. No less important are the thrill of proximate inclusion in a creative endeavor, and the warm and fuzzy and oh-so-hip feeling that comes from contributing to a worthwhile endeavor.

Kickstarter is open to projects of all kinds, but food is a constant motif. Food is the third most popular of the site’s 19 categories, and one of the most successful, with a 56% funding rate. The proposals  skew heavily toward food trucks, cupcakes, and home canners—a sign of both the times and the company’s Brooklyn location. The average food project has a funding goal of about $5,000, although this summer saw the founding of a North Carolina craft brewer who raised $44,000. Other recent launches include a solar-powered mobile crêperie, construction of a pedal-operated machine that churns butter and powers a toaster, and an Illinois high school class that wants to publish a cookbook (watch the typos in the business plan, guys).

Get in on the ground floor.

Currently seeking funds:

  • Tails and Trotters, a Portland, Oregon chef-farmer partnership, is almost half-way to its goal of $10,000 with 8 days remaining. The team is developing a true Northwest prosciutto produced from pigs fattened on hazelnuts. $100 will get you a ham and a VIP invite to the opening of their retail shop.
  • The clock is seriously ticking for Leo & Co., mother and son organic dog biscuit makers. With one day and just a few hundred dollars to go, they’ll send you a biscuit personalized with your pet’s name when you pledge as little as $1.
  • $40 gets you a screen credit in the forthcoming documentary Pimento Cheese, Please, currently looking for another $1,800 to cover production costs.
  • Help restore a 60 foot long dragon costume for use in the Chinese New Years Parade in San Francisco. 13 days and $2,000 to go, you can pledge as little as $1, but $50 will get you your picture taken wearing the dragon’s head. Not the foodiest of ventures, but the group behind the costume provides funding to the SF Food Bank. And how awesome is that dragon’s head picture?!.

See all the projects pending at Kickstarter.

Do you have an idea kicking around? Learn how to post your own project.


Posted in cyberculture, food business | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Death Penalty for Food Crimes

Can somebody tell me why we still import food from China?

A few examples of recent food shipments from China that were flagged at our borders:
Dried apples preserved with a known carcinogen.
Plums tinted with chemical dyes that are unsafe for human consumption.
Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.
Seafood laden with banned antibiotics and coated with putrefying bacteria. […]

Posted in food business, food policy, food safety | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Wondering About Wonder Bread

image by Diane Witman via Word It

Yes, Wonder Bread is still around.

It’s an iconic brand; a slice of genuine Americana. It exists somewhere between comfort food and ironic pop artifact in our collective nostalgia.

Bleached and puffy, spongy and glutenous, Wonder Bread has long been celebrated for its texture and elasticity. A lunch box favorite, generations of mothers have appreciated the resilience of the smooth, glassine-like surface of each slice, never tearing as peanut butter or mayonnaise is applied. Schoolchildren have always enjoyed squishing and imaginatively molding the bread, reducing each dough-conditioned, texturized slice to to just a few marble-sized bits, a full loaf to a baseball-sized wad. […]

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Breakfast Any Time


I was at this restaurant. The sign said Breakfast Anytime. So I ordered french toast in the Renaissance.

— Steven Wright


Breakfast for lunch. Or dinner.

Breakfast is a meal best served all day. Few of us have the time or the inclination for much more than some nibbles of toast with our morning coffee. Better to save the calories and indulgent flavors for a midday break or even dinner when the day is winding down and we can take the time to savor them. […]

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Does Sarah Palin Drink Chardonnay?

image courtesy of Behance Network

Hand over that wine list, buster!

Women wine drinkers have overtaken men. Women buy more, spend more, drink more. And it’s not the proverbial glass of Chardonnay– red wine is favored by a wide margin.

Women and wine are a natural match. […]

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Iced Coffee is Hot Hot Hot!


Iced coffee is expected to rack up yet another season of double-digit sales increases.

The big boys are tripping over each other with new product launches as each tries to cash in on our growing affinity for iced versions of our favorite beverage. Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and McDonalds will be going head-to-head this summer, each with its own frozen-dark-roasted-choice-of-flavored-syrup-blended-ginormous renditions. […]

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Chef Tattoos: food love 4 ever

It’s a new breed of chef.

Unbound from centuries of tradition, they cast off the starched white chef’s jacket and toque. The cooking became daring and experimental; the lifestyle a reflection of the profession. It’s the chef as rock star, replete with fame and fortune, drugs and groupies. And tattoos.

The traditional marks of the profession, the calluses, cuts, burns, and scars, are no longer enough. The contemporary chef flaunts a more personal, ballsier, in-your-face style (regardless of gender— there are plenty of ballsy women working in the industry), that tattoos complement. […]

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The 80 Year-Old Twinkie

                      image via Super Healthy Kids


The sounds of Louis Armstrong …a photograph of U.S. troops liberating a concentration camp…Neil Armstrong’s walk on the Moon…the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr…the literary works of William Faulkner…Twinkies…

That’s right, Hostess Twinkies made the cut. On the occasion of the millennium, a twin-pack of the snack cakes was included among the artifacts placed in our nation’s official time capsule. Intended as a record of 20th century cultural, scientific, humanistic, and technological achievements, the items are held at the National Archives and Records Administration where they will represent us to future generations. […]

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The Last Banana on Earth

       image courtesy of Geostationary Banana Over Texas
Bananas are on a crash course to extinction.
10 years, give or take. That’s how long scientists are giving the banana.
Then what will we slice on our morning cereal? […]
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Food Fraud: Is that olive oil really from Italy?

Walk down a midtown Manhattan street and you’ll see a folding table piled high with knockoff Prada handbags, Rolex watches, and Louis Vuitton wallets for a fraction of their retail prices.

Shoppers are well-acquainted with the fake designer goods racket. They know they are buying counterfeits, choosing to be complicit in a crime in pursuit of a bargain.

But what about the shadow economy for counterfeit food products? […]

Posted in food business, food policy, food safety | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Street Food Minus the Street


Food trucks were the darlings of the food world in 2009.

Take the recessionary economy. Add in the food savvy to swap withered hot dogs for trendy dishes like red velvet cupcakes or the Asian-fusion of Korean tacos. Give it a boost of tech savvy with Twittered locations and daily specials. And that’s how street food grew into a full-fledged culinary phenomenon.

Street food has the intrinsic charm of a communal, democratic experience. It’s cheap and casual with no dress code or reservations required. It is also hurried and messy. Instead of a maitre d’ to seat you, you have to cop a squat on a bench or curb. There are squirt bottle condiments, flimsy plastic cutlery, and the ambiance of the streets, with its attendant bus fumes, car alarms, and weather.

Ultimately, street food proved to be a little too street for many of us.

That’s why this year’s trend is the gentrification of street food. […]

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Starbucks Love. Starbucks Hate.


Starbucks Love

These days you risk getting run out of hip society for admitting a fondness for the Seattle giant. Even Starbucks is shunning its own brand with the opening of 15th Ave. Coffee and Tea. From the coffee cups to the store fixtures, Starbucks’ ownership  is nowhere in evidence. 15th Ave. can’t even be found on the Starbucks website, instead answering to the screen name of […]

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Does This Smell Funny to You?


Keep it or toss it?

Expiration date
Best if used by
Sell by

It must be a government agency in action. Probably the FDA or maybe the USDA or the Agriculture Department. But there’s some authority providing oversight and guaranteeing our food’s safety, right?

Guess again. […]

Posted in food business, food safety | Tagged , | 1 Comment

What’s the Big Idea?!


A better mousetrap

The bagel guillotine. The salad shooter. The Veg-O-Matic. Not a one came from GE Research or Westinghouse Laboratory. Each of these contributions to the culinary arts was conceived in the mind of a home cook.

A new website has come along that applies a crowdsourcing model to turn concepts into products. Quirky is not exclusively a platform for kitchen innovations, but with a strong natural affinity between cooking and tinkering, the site receives a steady stream of cooking-related submissions. […]

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Up and Down: recession winners and losers

   image courtesy of Food Mayhem


The recession marches on.

Unemployment is still too high; consumer spending is still too low. And have you looked at the financial sector lately?

While discretionary spending on groceries and restaurants is down overall, there are some signs of life. Health, convenience, small luxuries, and qualities that can can lead to future savings; these are the features that seem worth opening wallets for.

. Up: home-brewed coffee.

We’re dusting off the Mr. Coffee or replacing it with a single-cup brewing system. Even Starbucks got in on the act launching Via Ready Brew instant coffee. When we do go out for coffee, it’s likely to be a 99¢ cup from a fast food outlet. Could $4 lattes be a thing of the past? […]

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I’ll Get the Next Round:


Pabst Blue Ribbon is:

a) a blue-collar favorite decades past its heyday; or

b) the hippest, hottest beer around.

If you were born much before 1980 you probably missed this one.                             […]

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