/Leftovers: Old Bay claws its way into hot sauce; Jameson gets into the Irish coffee spirit

Leftovers: Old Bay claws its way into hot sauce; Jameson gets into the Irish coffee spirit

Leftovers is our look at a few of the product ideas popping up everywhere — some are intriguing, some sound amazing and some are the kinds of ideas we would never dream of. We can’t write about everything that we get pitched, so here are the leftovers pulled from our inboxes.

Old Bay brings the heat

Old Bay is igniting consumer interest by offering a new product to light their taste buds on fire. 

McCormick & Co. debuted an Old Bay-branded hot sauce this week. Its first batch sold out within the first hour of sales. The spice maker started selling the limited edition hot sauce online Wednesday, but “over the next month or so” the company will bring the sauce to stores, according to a release.

The new product drummed up a lot of attention on social media, with many tweeting disappointment about not being able to obtain a bottle. The brand’s account encouraged consumers to sign up for availability updates on its website so that eager fans could be notified as soon as it is restocked. 

“We have fans that get Old Bay tattooed on their body and have Old Bay-themed weddings, so in hindsight, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the new sauce would sell out so quickly,” Laurie Harrsen, senior director of public relations and consumer communications, told NBC News.

In 1990, McCormick bought Old Bay for a price estimated to be between $11 million and $14 million, according to the Baltimore Sun. McCormick’s signature seafood spice blend Old Bay has been aiming to extend its reach far beyond its base in Maryland for years, and launching a hot sauce could help that mission. Old Bay does already come in a variety of other products, including Herr’s Cheese Curls and Potato Chips, and Fisher’s Popcorn.

It’s not surprising that consumers would be interested in having the distinctive Chesapeake flavor in hot sauce, given the cult following around the product and the increased interest in the condiment in recent years. The hot sauce category has been thriving for years and that growth is expected to continue. According to a report by Fortune Business Insights, the hot sauce market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 6.5%, reaching $3.77 billion by the end of 2026. 

More consumers, especially millennials, have been seeking products that bring the burn. As Americans have been increasingly embracing the heat of spicy chilies from Mexican and South American cuisines, companies have been adding hot ingredients to a variety of products. 

And though there has never been an Old Bay hot sauce before, McCormick has the expertise. The seasonings giant acquired sauce brand Frank’s RedHot in 2017 as part of its $4.2 billion purchase of Reckitt Benckiser’s food division. While classic brands like Tabasco and Cholula seem to rule the hot sauce segment, innovations like Vietnamese-style hot sauce Sriracha have been able to break in and find success. 

With consumers already driving big demand for Old Bay’s hot sauce and the condiment’s sector continuing to grow, this new product could have the potential to drop its limited edition title and become a mainstay.   

—​ Lillianna Byington

Jameson Irish Whiskey


Jameson makes the ultimate Irish coffee

It’s more than a month until St. Patrick’s Day, but Jameson’s already got a new spin on the Irish coffee. 

The Pernod Ricard whiskey brand launched its newest flavor this week: Jameson Cold Brew. Unlike the traditional mixed drink that puts coffee together with whiskey, cream and sugar, this version is all alcohol — a 60 proof spirit.

“By combining the smooth taste of triple distilled Jameson and the richness of natural cold brew coffee flavor into one bottle, Jameson Cold Brew celebrates a passion for whiskey and coffee,” Matt Foley, Jameson brand director at Pernod Ricard USA, said in a press release. “When we started researching our next innovation, we didn’t need to go far, as it had been under our nose all along.”

Of course, coffee-flavored liquor is not new. It’s a popular flavoring for vodka and tequila, and the brewed beverage plus rum is the basis for Pernod Ricard’s Kahlúa. However, Jameson has no other varieties that take their flavor from something not related to alcohol. This blend pulls its flavor not just from coffee, but from trendy cold brew.

If Jameson is going to take on a flavor, coffee is a good choice. Considering the popularity of the Irish coffee cocktail, the two have been mixed both by bartenders and consumers for decades. Last year, Americans drank an average of two cups of coffee a day, according to Statista. The consumption rate has remained strong, and coffee is seen as a high-growth segment in the food business, with companies such as Coca-Cola and Nestle making massive deals to get a bigger portion of the segment.

It’s important for Jameson to make itself more attractive to Americans. Yes, the brand is growing rapidly, with a 10.1% increase in volume sales between 2017 and 2018, according to the Beverage Information & Insights Group. And yes, millennials love Irish whiskey in general, driving sales up 9.4% in the category, according to CNBC. 

But the beverage may be targeted in a coming round of tariffs. In December, the Trump administration said it is considering tariffs as high as 100% on Irish whiskey as part of ongoing retaliation against the European Union for airline-related trade subsidies. While consumers love their Irish whiskey, a drastic increase in prices without a change in the product may lead them to choose another libation. 

While no decision has been made on the latest round of tariffs, Jameson Cold Brew may perk up sales even if they come to fruition.

— Megan Poinski


Clif perks up bars with new coffee collection

As consumers eat more portable bars and sip coffee to give themselves a much-needed energy boost, it was only a matter of time before the pair came together.

Clif, known for its iconic calorie-packed snacks, has introduced the coffee bars in three flavors: Dark Chocolate Mocha, Caramel Macchiato and Vanilla Almond Latte. Each package touts that the bar contains one espresso shot, which from the coffee made with organic beans. 

“Even when the coffee shop is out of reach, you can still savor the great taste of a Clif Bar and coffee whenever, and wherever, you want,” Clif Bar said on its website.

With consumers on the go and less likely to sit down for one of the three major meals, CPGs are repackaging foods loaded with protein, nutrients and recognizable ingredients into a convenient package they can eat on the go. 

The concept has attracted big-name food companies such as Hershey, which purchased One Brands last year for $397 millionSimply Good Foods Company, the maker of bars and other products under the Atkins brand, snapped up Quest Nutrition for $1 billion. Mondelez International purchased a majority stake in Perfect Snacks, the manufacturer of organic, non-GMO, nut butter-based protein bars and bites.  

The coffee market has surged with Americans leading the pack, drinking about 400 million cups per day.​ About 64% of U.S. adults drank coffee each day in 2018, up 2% from the prior year. This is the highest level since 2012, according to a survey from the National Coffee Association cited by Reuters. 

To be sure, Clif is not the first company to bring coffee into its product. Beverage giant Coca-Cola also added coffee to its iconic Coke soda in some markets to attract consumers who need a quick afternoon pick up. 

By merging bars with coffee, Clif is not only targeting people who are in a hurry in the morning, but those who need a quick jolt in the afternoon and may not be in a position or have the time to grab a quick cup.

— Christopher Doering