Flavor crazy consumers love crazy flavors.

It doesn’t take a professional nutritionist to make this statement.

The next time you’re grocery shopping, take notice. The long, crowded shelves lining aisles of any super/mega mart are filled with consumer-driven, multi-flavored products.

It seems the number of products in only one aisle of our 21st century markets would equal all items that filled the entire mom and pop store where our family shopped in the 1930s, ’40s and early ’50s. Amazing!

In my previous column (May 13), I noted how the beer industry caters to flavor fanatics. Flavoring not only is more filling in the beer market, but it overflows into daily-consumed items such as coffee, fruit juice, crackers and potato chips.

As I recall from the ol’ days, brand name products were popular but limited. Among coffee, there was Maxwell House, Hills Bros., Eight O’Clock (Folgers came later) and Sanka was the only decaf.

Juice in cans and bottles was mainly orange, Welch grape, Dole pineapple and Campbell’s tomato. Crackers were basically Nabisco Ritz and saltines, commonly called soda crackers. I also recall Frito-Lay (now Lays) and Jays potato chips. As for flavor, there was one of a kind – the original.

Surveys indicate the modern flavor phenomenon is rooted in our pop culture, especially among the so-called Millennials or Y Generation, the 18-35-year-olds whose spending habits manufacturers and marketers love.

Older folks – octogenarians, like myself – reportedly spend less, have less interest in new products and have brand preferences set in stone. Younger generationals are likely to spend more, try new products and have little brand loyalty.

Our modern markets offer brand name and store products in a variety of flavors and blends, including original, lite, diet, reduced fat and no fat. In my day, “original” was the real thing.

Nowadays, when you visit any Pick ‘n Save, Walmart or Woodman’s, you’ll find:


Folgers: medium or dark blend

Gourmet Supreme: 100% Colombian, Classic Roast, Special Roast, Country Roast, Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Black Silk, Breakfast Blend, Brazilian Blend, House Blend, Simply Smooth Regular, Simply Smooth Decaf, Classic Decaf and Half Caf.

Maxwell House: original Roast, Dark Roast, French Roast, Wakeup Roast, Gourmet Blend, Master Blend, House Blend, Breakfast Blend, Lite Half Caffeine and Decaf. Is there really a difference between Wakeup Roast and Breakfast Blend?

Hills Bros.: original Blend, 100% Colombian, Dark Roast, Medium Roast, French Roast, Perfect Balance (half caffeine). Lesser-known brands and store blends area also available.

Various brands and multiple varieties (bottled, chilled and frozen) including: orange, apple, raspberry apple, red raspberry, prune, strawberry kiwi, cranberry, apple cranberry, peach mango, 100% pomegranate, blueberry pomegranate, cranberry pomegranate, cherry pomegranate, berry blend, apple cherry, apple berry blend, cranberry grape, strawberry cherry, apple berry cherry, pineapple, grape, white grape peach, white light grape, orange pineapple, cherry, white cranberry peach, blueberry (regular and diet), cran-lemonade, cran-tangerine, along with tomato varieties and blends.


Nabisco Ritz: known as “original” in the ol’ days, now comes in whole wheat, honey wheat, garlic butter, roasted vegetable, bacon, reduced fat.

Triscuit: Original, cracked pepper and olive oil, rosemary and olive oil, sweet potato and sea salt, black pepper and sea salt, roasted red pepper, tomato and sweet basil, roasted garlic, rye and caraway seeds, fire roasted, tomato and olive oil, honey mustard wheat thins and reduced fat.

Town House: original, Italian herb, sea salt and olive oil, garlic and herb, wheat, pretzel crackers, pita crackers, flatbread crisps

Other brands: original, lime, sweet onion, chili cheese, multigrain, sundried tomato and basil, hint of salt, reduced fat.

Saltines: unsalted tops, wheat, whole grain, rosemary and olive oil.

Potato chips

Lays: original, regular, ripple (wavy), classic, kettle cooked, cheddar and sour cream, onion and sour cream, barbecue, dill pickle, flamin’ hot, lightly salted, roasted garlic and sea salt, au gratin, cheesy garlic bread, chicken and waffles, jalapeño.

Jays: Original, wavy, old fashioned, barbecue, sour cream and onion, bacon cheddar, curly waves, no salt.
Krunchers: Kosher dill, hot buffalo wings, sea salt and cracked pepper, sweet Hawaiian onion, mesquite barbecue.
These are only a few examples of the scope of flavored food products. There are more.

A Wisconsin spice company has joined the wave of culinary trends to cook and grill with flavored spices such as beer cheese dip mix, roasted red pepper dip mix and cracked fennel seed, whole rainbow peppercorn, maple bacon popcorn seasoning.

Planters has jumped on the flavor-nut bandwagon with four new flavors of snack peanuts: smoked, cocoa, salted caramel and chipotle.

Starbucks is planning to launch handcrafted, flavored, caffeine-free sodas: spiced root beer, classic root beer with a twist of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and anise; golden ginger ale, real ginger ale with citrus and brown sugar, and lemon ale, lemon juice blended with hints of apricots and ginger.

How about ketchup flavored with rhubarb, blueberry, tomatillo and roasted chile, chipotle and curry? If not already on the market, it’s coming soon.

And, a Los Angeles “super-trendy” restaurant has added chocolate fried chicken to its menu. It’s fried in chocolate oil.
Where does it end? It doesn’t. It’s only the beginning.

Flavor fanciers are like hi-tech fans, always hoping and waiting for the next innovation to hit the market. And, are first in line to purchase.

If you’re a flavor lover, you’re with it. Admittedly, I’m not. My aging taste buds from the ol’ days still savor the “original” – the real thing.

(Out and About is a regular feature of Mature Lifestyles that looks at issues affecting the older adult community. Horn, a retired Catholic Herald reporter, is a member of St. Roman Parish, Milwaukee.)