Thursday, July 12, 2007

New York Daily News Article

Tracking tricked-out treats at Fancy Food


Wednesday, July 11th 2007

As culinary technology advances, there may be no food so ordinary that it can't be tricked out with exotic flavors and add-ons.

Today's cases in point: popcorn and tuna fish.

Yes, popcorn has long had its own condiments. First, we can probably guess, came butter. Then we added cheese, caramel and whatever else would stick.

But the varieties that come in gift tins are like celery sticks compared with FunkyChunky Popcorn, a ridiculously rich and delicious concoction that features three kinds of chocolate, pecans, almonds, cashews and caramel all generously piled on top of humble corn.

"Low in saturated fat, high in addiction," marketing director Tore Villberg remarked this week at the Fancy Food Show in the Javits Center, where FunkyChunky was on display.

FunkyChunky Popcorn, and its younger siblings FunkyChunky Pretzels and FunkyChunky Candy Cane Popcorn, rose from a small kitchen in Eden Prairie, Minn., to catch the eye of Rachael Ray, who twice featured it as her snack of the week.

Curiously enough, say Villberg, that wasn't the product's biggest boost.

"It was great to be on Rachael Ray's show, and we certainly got some response," says Villberg. "What was really huge for us, though, was Forbes magazine."

Seems someone put a jar of FunkyChunky Popcorn in a gift basket for the chairman of Forbes, who liked it so much he had his magazine feature it.

Suddenly it was in corporate gift baskets all over America, which makes sense because, with the products going for $16 to $24 a pound, it helps to be in the Forbes demographic if this is where your taste runs.

If you'd prefer something equally exotic, but cheaper and perhaps a little healthier, you might consider Australia's G'Day Gourmet tuna in one of its six flavors: chili, lemon pepper, Indian curry, tomato basil, tomato onion and tomato salsa.

At 135 to 243 calories per 3.5-ounce can, this is good news for anyone on one of those diets that allows you a small can of tuna and a few lettuce leaves.

Australians have been eating flavored tuna forever, says Fran Niemiec, wife of the company's founder. But it's filtered to the States only lately, in stores like Whole Foods, and she says that even though Americans know tuna, there's still a learning curve.

Most Americans prefer albacore tuna, she says, while G'Day is made with skipjack, a darker, smaller and younger tuna caught deeper in the water.

She notes that G'Day has low mercury levels, which is good. But its real charm is that you don't have to add an extra tablespoon of mayo to make it taste good.

You wouldn't even want to.

See the full article here.