Saturday, October 19, 2013

"Let 'em eat Brown Rice Triscuit!"

A load of Brown Rice Triscuit finds its way
to a church food pantry in Louisville.
Marie Antoinette purportedly said, "Let 'em eat cake." Nabisco, it seems, says, "Let 'em eat Brown Rice Triscuit!"

Triscuit’s new line of “healthy-seeming” Brown Rice snack crackers, introduced with some hype and a significant advertising campaign back in April, has apparently missed its mark. A considerable quantity of the product turned up as donated surplus at a church food pantry in Louisville today.

This took me back to my work on the hunger-and-poverty beat back in the early 1990s, when the massive marketing failure of oat bran products flooded the nation’s food banks with truckloads of oat bran products that didn’t even particularly excite the hungry homeless people who ended up taking them away in free grocery baskets.

Nor would the demise of this product be likely to come as a surprise to participants in our FoodLovers/Kitchen forum on the WineLovers Discussion Groups, who’ve been merrily savaging the product for the past month or so in a discussion titled “New Triscuits: Brown Rice, Salt and Pepper.”

The product had launched amid higher hopes. “Is it a cracker? Or a meal? Triscuit is putting major marketing support behind its new Brown Rice Triscuit lineup that features varieties not normally found in snack crackers -  like red bean with roasted red pepper and sweet potato with roasted sweet onion, Ad Age reported in a fairly breathless account this past April 11, headlined “Why Triscuit Is Putting Rice, Potatoes and Beans in Its Crackers.

“The line extension marks a major shift for a 110-year-old brand known for its simplistic wheat-packed crackers. By adding rice, potatoes and spices like basil and sea salt, Triscuit is seeking to appeal to consumers who are eating more snacks and less traditional meals,” the advertising industry journal reported.

Down in the story, Reporter E.J. Schultz added, “Of course it doesn't hurt that many consumers associate ingredients like red beans, whole grains and sweet potatoes with better-for-you foods.”

Targeting “younger Baby Boomers,” Triscuit looked for ingredients that were both wholesome and can deliver great taste. Print advertising touts "real food" ingredients. But, Ad Age went on, “there isn't much of a real health difference between the new and old Triscuits. Traditional Triscuits actually contain fewer calories, at 120, than the brown rice and sweet potato variety, which has 130 calories.”