When I think of unique food combinations, I usually think of fast-food outlets. Taco Bell introduced the Doritos Taco. Burger King recently reintroduced its Cheetos Mac and Cheese Bites product. Sonic previously offered a Nerds rope-flavored iced drink. However, these "stunt foods" are no longer just for the fast-food market. Food manufacturers are starting to grab onto this trend.
Barb Stuckey, President and Chief Innovation officer at Mattson, wrote an excellent piece on the subject for Forbes. From the article:
"It used to be that fast food chains were the only companies who relied on stunt food to stimulate demand. There was the Grilled Cheese Hamburger from Friendly’s: a burger between 2 Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, which serve as the (4-slices of bread) bun. Did you try the Bacon Milkshake from Jack in the Box? Or, the latest “it beverage,” the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino? And the Big Daddy of them all? The Doritos Locos Tacos, though the combination was less of a stunt and more of a brilliantly devious reset to our staid expectations of a taco chain."
Stuckey argues that PepsiCo's Frito-Lay division is the biggest player in this market. It made a million dollar contest out of encouraging customers to develop their own crazy flavors for potato chips. Past winners include Southern Biscuits and Gravy, Greektown Gyro and Chicken & Waffles. However, they are not alone.
Mondelez's Oreo brand is also famous for releasing limited-time products. Its Swedish Fish Oreos, Marshmallow Peeps Oreos and Fireworks Oreos are examples of Mondelez's interest in releasing social media-worthy combinations to entice customers.
Stuckey finishes the article with some wonderful insight:
"I’m not sure consumers are clamoring for these combinations, nor are they meant to drive repeat purchase. The goal is to enjoy what restaurants do with their LTOs: that is, a sales bump from the PR that surrounds the launch of something so audacious it makes news... Is this a trend or simply a brilliant marketing ploy to get the media to focus on big brands that have lost some relevance with consumers? The vote is out, but as one representative of the media, I fell for it."