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Friday, 10/15/2021 2:22:36 PM

Friday, October 15, 2021 2:22:36 PM

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Pepsi: Cracker Jack soda

Leftovers: PepsiCo goes for a home run with Cracker Jack soda; Country Archer enlists world's hottest chili pepper for jerky

The CPG giant pops in caramel and peanut flavors to its classic beverage, while Sonic takes its drink flavors beyond the restaurant's drive-in parking lots.

PepsiCo swings for the fences with Cracker Jack soda

With baseball playoffs underway, PepsiCo is stepping up to the plate to give fans a new way to enjoy its soda and the popular snack synonymous with the nation’s pastime — at the same time.

Pepsi x Cracker Jack is a new soda flavor that combines the popular cola with the nostalgic blend of caramel, popcorn and peanut flavors. In addition to the drink, the offering includes a Cracker Jack-style prize. Each 12-ounce can will have one of four original peel-off temporary tattoos — an ode to classic Cracker Jack prizes.

Unlike the signature cola or PepsiCo’s other sodas like Mtn Dew or Sierra Mist, the Cracker Jack beverage won’t be sold in stores. To receive one of the 2,000 cans, fans need to upload a video on Twitter or TikTok of them singing the classic tune "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

The song, sung in the 7th inning of baseball games, includes a line where a fan is hopeful to “buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.”

“Pepsi is a brand with a deep legacy in sports and is an endemic part of the ballpark experience, so we thought it would only be fitting to help fans celebrate the biggest month in baseball with our latest limited-edition drop - Pepsi x Cracker Jack," Todd Kaplan, Pepsi’s vice president of marketing, said in a statement.

Pepsi x Cracker Jack is the latest limited edition offering from the soda giant. Ahead of Easter, the company unveiled Pepsi x Peeps that combined the taste of Pepsi with the flavor of Peeps. And last fall, the New York beverage and snack company gave away 1,500 two-liter bottles of Pepsi Apple Pie. The company said the soda, which had "hints of warm cinnamon, buttery crust, and fresh apple," was given to consumers who shared a photo or video of a baking fail.

The specialty flavors mirror a similar strategy used by other companies, including Mondelez International and its Oreo brand. The snacking giant has created dozens of different flavors of its classic sandwich cookie, including Jelly Donut, Watermelon, Coconut Apple, Key Lime Pie and Gingerbread.

With younger individuals craving new, distinctive flavors and spending more of their time on social media, the offerings from companies such as PepsiCo and Mondelez are made for sharing and creating an instant online buzz. For CPGs aiming to score in an otherwise crowded marketplace, these product launches could be a home run with consumers.

Country Archer wants jerky fans to love — not fear — Death Reaper

If the warning label with a skull and crossbones doesn’t fully communicate the spice threat of Country Archer’s Death Reaper jerky, then the glove included to handle the meat snack should do it.

The limited-edition jerky is seasoned with Carolina Reaper Chilis, said to be the hottest pepper in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. For some perspective, the Carolina Reaper Chili can measure at up to 2 million Scoville heat units. This would make it 200 times hotter than a jalapeno, and twice as hot as the ghost pepper, one of the most popular super-hot chilies flavoring foods today.

The other details of Death Reaper jerky literally burn up in the heat. Each 1-ounce bag contains grass-fed and finished beef, with no soy, preservatives, MSG, or nitrates or nitrites. Country Archer is selling the meat snack on its website for $5.99, while supplies last.

There is also a Death Reaper Challenge, where brave consumers are encouraged to record themselves eating an entire serving — without the relief of a beverage or food — and posting it on social media. There’s no reward, other than achieving an immortality of sorts with other sweaty, grimacing, regretful souls.

Spice eating challenges have been a creative way in recent years for snack brands to drum up excitement — and free publicity. Amplify Snacks is a pioneer of the trend; in 2016, it debuted the One-Chip Challenge for its Paqui brand tortilla chips, with a special variety flavored by Carolina Reaper and scorpion peppers. The stunt proved so successful that Amplify has repeated the challenge each year with a new, limited edition chip packaged in a cardboard coffin-shaped box.

There are also several eating challenges on YouTube, including one that encourages mass consumption of Barcel USA’s Takis super spicy rolled tortilla chips.

Jerky has been on a sales tear in recent years, driven by the popularity of artisanal and premium brands. Country Archer, which prioritizes grass-fed beef, antibiotic-free pork and a clean label, already is on the right side of the trend. By tapping into spice — and social media challenges — it is also lassoing Gen Z and millennials’ love of heat, trying to ensure that Death Reaper is not dead on arrival.

Sonic mixes it up with singles-to-go drink packets

They won’t deliver them to you on roller skates, but Sonic is aiming to bring its drink flavors beyond its drive-in parking lots.

The restaurant chain has announced Sonic Drink Mix Singles-To-Go, which can be mixed into water to achieve the flavor of select drinks from its menu. They are being produced with Chicago company Jel Sert, known for producing Flavor Aid drink mixes and Fla-Vor-Ice frozen pops.

The flavor packets will come in three flavors based on some of Sonic’s most popular options: Cherry Limeade, Ocean Water and Strawberry Lemonade. In its announcement, Sonic touts the drinks’ better-for-you benefits like being zero sugar and low calorie, and recommends mixing them into a standard 16.9-ounce water bottle.

The flavor packets will be rolled out this fall at Texas grocery chain HEB and select Walmart stores, followed by all Dollar General stores in February.

Sonic has debuted other retail products under its branding with Jel Sert. There’s gelatin and frozen slush bars with the Ocean Water and Cherry Limeade flavors, along with instant pudding with the same flavors as its milkshakes: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and banana.

The drive-in chain is not the first restaurant to roll out retail-modified versions of some of its most popular products. Consumers familiar with menu items often then want to pick them off of shelves. TGI Fridays frozen appetizers, such as potato skins and mozzarella sticks, have been a significant hit for Kraft Heinz. Conagra has similarly found success with frozen options from PF Chang’s after a period of Unilever struggling to.

— Chris Casey

Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away--Wows happen!!!

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