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Food and Beverage

With Drought Measures Becoming More Strict, Nestle Continues California Water Bottling

arrowheadNestle is kicking up controversy with its continued water bottling operations despite a drought that is so severe, it has prompted water restrictions.

Nestle owns Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water, which is sourced from a spring  Millard Canyon, CA. Nestle Pure Life is another one of its brands, both of which are bottled on a Native American reservation in the state.

In January, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency because of water shortages. On Tuesday, water regulators approved fines of $500 for things like watering lawns and washing cars. The measures were put in place after the governor announced he wanted to reduce water usage by 20 percent and that goal hadn’t been achieved. The drought has been going on for three years. Other measures will be considered if water usage still isn’t reduced.

Reservations are considered sovereign states that don’t have to follow state regulations. But knowing the dire situation that the state is in, should Nestle do something?

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Crumbs Rises From The Ashes to Sell Cupcakes (And Other Stuff) For Another Day

lemonisLast week we were talking about the demise of Crumbs. Today, we’re talking about its resurrection, with some help from Dippin’ Dots.

Word is the cupcake company will be sold to an investor group that will include Marcus Lemonis, CNBC host (right), and Fischer Enterprises, owner of Dippin’ Dots.

Many people said that Crumbs’ biggest problem was the fact that it hitched its wagon exclusively to a food trend that eventually died out. By the sound of the details that have been revealed so far, the company plans to change that. The addition of these new leaders will also solve some of the marketing challenges that the company clearly had.

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Best Practices: What to Do When Activists Come Calling

bpa_free_logoOne of my go-to quick-and-healthy dinners is a can of Amy’s Organic fat-free vegetable soup topped with slices of chicken sausage.

OK, yes: It’s still processed food (and I know I could and should do better!), but some of that guilt is removed thanks to a new sticker Amy’s has been putting on every can that reads: “This soup is canned in a BPA-free liner.”

Good move, right? This little sticker reinforces the notion that buying Amy’s Organic is the healthier choice. It’s also a perfectly proportional response to health concerns raised by groups such as the Breast Cancer Fund over the use of Bisphenol A, or BPA, in can linings. Other companies, such as Campbell Soup Co., have followed suit in removing BPA from their packaging.

As Advertising Age points out, processed-food companies—even seemingly “good” companies, like Amy’s Organic—are on the defensive as never before, and repeatedly under attack from online health advocates and activists.

The rise in attacks comes from, you guessed it, “social networking tools and digital media, [which] have created opportunity for groups of consumer advocates to target individual brands in order to influence company decisions,” notes Sanford C. Bernstein notes in a recent report.

So what’s a company to do? Should companies respond to every single threat? And how?

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Crumbs Didn’t Fold Because It Only Focused on Cupcakes

crumbs bake shopNow that we’ve all wiped away the tears over the loss of the Crumbs Bake Shop, people are wondering what the heck happened. (*Now we’re also wondering if the shop will actually make a comeback.)

The biggest problems were financial. The company kept expanding, which is expensive, and they weren’t selling enough cupcakes to cover the cost. The company also went public in 2011, which can lead to a whole separate set of business issues.

Tied closely to that is the belief that the whole premise of the company was a fad, destined to flame out from a drop in sales. Cupcakes shot to prominence with Sex And The City and a guest appearance by Magnolia Bakery, another cupcake bakery, in the early 2000s. The AP makes the case that other companies like Krispy Kreme and TCBY also grew to great heights based on a food trend then eventually came crashing down along with all of our sugar highs. Things like changing health concerns (people are more calorie-conscious these days), shifting taste buds and increased competition from others who are chasing a fad can hurt business.

We’ll propose that it was less the cupcake fad and more the Crumbs brand that played a role in the company’s demise. People still like cupcakes. Maybe not as much as before, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen someone turn one down. Part of the problem was that Crumbs wasn’t as fun as a cupcake business should be.

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T.G.I. Fridays Pushes the Boundaries of Reality with ‘Endless Appetizers’

TGI F

These aren’t “endless” unless you’re discussing their shelf life.

The greatest sociological experiment of our time has begun–and it involves lots of appetizers.

One could discuss the marketing/brand identification strategy behind T.G.I. Fridays‘ decision to give all comers as many appetizers as they can stuff into their mouths this summer for the low price of $10. One could ask whether this attempt to woo cheap eaters is really all about the drinks they’ll justify with that two-digit total. One might even ask why Guy Fieri was not somehow involved.

But we just finished a super-long weekend, so this morning we’ll let USA Today (nice placement!) do the analysis for us…

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Dining Goes Digital With a Mash-Up of IBM’s Watson and Bon Appetit

watson bon appetitIBM‘s Watson supercomputer and food magazine Bon Appetit have joined forces to create an app — “Chef Watson with Bon Appetit,” currently in beta — that finds new ways to mix and match foods based on 9,000 Bon Appetit recipes. Essentially, Watson consumed the recipe data and can now manipulate it into new flavors and concoctions.

“To come up with these creatively crafted cuisines, Watson uses Bon Appetit’s insights about ingredient pairings, cooking styles, and dishes and then mixes that with food chemistry, the psychology of people’s likes and dislikes, and regional and ethnic tastes,” reports CNET. “The idea is to help people discover new and flavorful recipes that are fine-tuned to make taste buds happy.”

Something like fennel-spiced baby back pork with a tangy apple-mustard sauce. Good grief. Sounds delish.

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Burger King Has a Gay Pride Whopper and It’s Just Like a Regular Whopper

Burger King, like the rest of us, is celebrating LGBT Pride Week. For this special occasion, one San Francisco BK restaurant has introduced a special Proud Whopper, a sandwich wrapped in a rainbow of bright colors. But when you unwrap it, inside, all you’ll find is a regular old Whopper.

What gives?

Well, the company says that’s kind of the point.

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U.S. Veteran Claims Cracker Barrel Fired Him for Giving Needy Man a Corn Muffin

cracker barrel pic stitch

Meet Joseph Koblenzer.

He is a 73-year-old man, former war veteran, and now standing in the unemployment due to the actions of Cracker Barrel. What actions? According to CBS Tampa Bay, Koblenzer was a man with a heart for the needy.

In fact, it was the appearance of a needy man and woman (on separate occasions) who cost him a nice job as a three-year greeter of said folksy eatery. His deviant act of thievery? A corn muffin, packets of mayonnaise and tartar sauce, coffee, and a coke and a smile.

Yeah, we hate him too.

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‘Kitchen Nightmares’ Was Only a Dream Come True 40% of the Time

gordon ramsay

Chef Gordon Ramsay has approximately 1,649 shows on TV. Okay, perhaps that is an overstatement, but it’s close. Between his monopolizing BBC America and FOX with original and remake programming, you would think this chef can do no wrong.

As a foodie, I know anyone who wasn’t a cafeteria lady or a hospital cook on a reality show looking for those precious 15 minutes of fame will act like Chef Ramsay is “just a dude.” However, someone who really loved cooking food would salivate at the man’s footsteps. He really is that much of a stud in a kitchen, so you expect he has the Midas touch … and then someone did some digging around the success rate of his show ‘Kitchen Nightmares.’

And that’s when Gordon Ramsay quit. Really.

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Iceland Looks to Take Down Greece in Yogurt Culture Wars

yogurtThe Vikings are ready to rumble with the the Greeks. The battleground: the dairy aisle.

Yogurt is a big business these days and Greek yogurt has got the market cornered. In particular, Chobani is selling like hot cakes. But Iceland has its own yogurt to sell. Skyr is very much like Greek yogurt, but thicker with a more “yogurt-y” taste. (Clearly, I’m not a food writer.) Both are delicious. But Siggi’s, a popular brand of skyr (maybe the popular brand of skyr), maintains that the competition is packed with sugar.

This is the big selling point and primary message for Siggi’s: Skyr has “natural ingredients and less sugar.” Since most people are eating yogurt to be healthy, Siggi’s thinks the choice is obvious.

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