Food Innovation

Kale’s not stale: profiling the superfood staple

October 11, 2017

Flavor profile of Kale using FlavorWiki technology.

A grandfather of “superfoods,” kale may seem to be a sleepy one (yeah yeah, we’ve all heard how great it is), but it’s a respected classic — a leafy green that continues to pull its weight alongside trendy superfoods like chia seeds, quinoa, hemp seeds, goji berries and pomegranate juice, and more common foods like salmon, broccoli and blueberries.


Now, before I go on, a little bit about superfoods. First, there is no official, standardized criteria for being branded a superfood, but the general idea is that it is a nutrient-rich food that may have some health benefits. Second, the internet is full of articles about a range of so-called superfoods claiming to prevent or cure diseases. However, the scientific evidence for these claims is often lacking and there is plenty of controversy associated with the term superfood (check out The Guardian’s article on the topic). Some government agencies have policies in place to protect against false claims — in the EU, products cannot claim to be superfoods unless they provide proof (BBC News). In the United States, the FTC stipulates that health claims in advertising also must be supported with solid proof.

It really is good for you

But. What everyone (I think) can agree on is the fact that purported superfoods do in fact have some solid nutrition that can make them good choices as part of a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and veggies. Kale, for example, is a rich source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate and manganese, and is a good source of many other vitamins and minerals.

Kale is a member of the Brassica family (i.e., cabbage) with earthy, nutty, peppery, bitter and sour flavors. We tested some that was available at our local Coop retailer from the Betty Bossi brand.  You can see the profile in the image at the top of the blog, which was created in just one minute using FlavorWiki’s in home flavor profiling technology.  But this was just one type of Kale.  There are many different varieties, including the more readily available curly, Dinosaur (a.k.a. cavolo nero), Red Russian and redbor.

What to do with this popular green? David Lebovitz shared his recipe for roasted kale sprouts in his blog Living the Sweet Life in Paris. Jessica Merchant’s mouth-watering recipe for nutty harvest honeycrisp kale salad appears in her blog How Sweet it Is. Or you could try a kale taco salad courtesy of What’s Gaby Cooking. If you like it hot, Saveur’s spicy braised kale recipe will curl your leaves.

Eat your greens!


Food Innovation

Concocted to last: Brands that stand the test of time

September 9, 2017

One of my favorite cereals, Cheerios, has been around since 1941. Like Cheerios, there are a number of food and beverage products that have stood the test of time — Jim Beam (since 1795!), Jell-O, Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, and Kellogg’s Raisin Bran has been around for over 70 years and ranks as one of the top 10 breakfast cereals. But there are many, many products that have simply fallen flat.

In a recent post, we talked about some pretty staggering food industry statistics. Of the roughly 20,000 new food and beverage products introduced annually, a mere 15 percent stay on the market for at least two years. The rest quickly encounter a rather tragic fate.


The International Food Information Council says that taste is the number one driver of purchase decisions. Of course, no matter how amazing a food tastes and no matter how much it resonates with consumers’ needs, you can’t sell it if people don’t know about it. Good branding and marketing is essential. In the end, people buy not just the product but the packaging too — and by “packaging” I mean the emotions, memories and experiences associated with the product, as well as the wrapper and the label. They are, in effect, buying a brand.

Our perception of taste is influenced by our emotions, memories and experiences.

Wrapped up in this “package” is our perception of taste, influenced by our emotions, memories and experiences. My love of Cheerios could very well be because, when I’ve got a bowl of them in front of me, I am six years old again, sitting beside my brother at our black-trimmed dining table, my mom in the kitchen packing our lunches for school. My world is at peace.

Don’t mess with a good thing

This interplay of taste and emotions, memories and experiences might well have been what led to the outcry from Coca-Cola (Coke) consumers, when in 1985, the Coca-Cola Company changed the taste of Coke. Unhappy with the new formula, consumers protested loudly with over 40,000 phone calls and letters to the company and some people even taking to the streets to publicly protest. Changing the flavor of the soda meant, for many customers, severing a relationship they had with “their” brand.

Changing the flavor of the soda meant, for many customers, severing a relationship they had with “their” brand.

Within three months, Coke Classic was revived and peace was restored in cola land. And there was an unexpected bonus for the Coca-Cola Company — after the return of Coke Classic, sales climbed. The customer complaints had become an incredibly valuable consumer insight. Today, Coke is the fifth most valuable brand, according to Forbes.

A package deal

We love certain foods and brands because of the way they make us feel. Are you eating that cheesecake because it reminds you of the one Grandma used to make for your birthday every year? Does your morning coffee taste good only if you’re drinking it from your favorite mug? Mine sure does.

Killer cheesecake recipe here.

FlavorWiki Tasting

TASTE THIS! A Kickstart tasters guide

September 7, 2017

Dear Kickstart Tasters,

Thanks for joining us at the Kickstart opening dinner party! We hope you enjoy trying our tasting prototype and sampling the awesome drinks. Thanks to digitalswitzerland and Kickstart Accelerator for sponsoring this great event and amazing experience here in Zurich.

Below are the drinks and the flavor descriptors that you will be evaluating. Definitions of the descriptors are given in case you have questions about their meanings. We’ve also included some information about the products themselves.

Also, don’t forget to enter your email address when asked to do so in the survey so we can send you your personal results. And check back here on our blog where we will publish the group results.

Thanks again, and happy tasting!


Flavor Descriptors

Fruity The perception of fruit (these might be citrus, orange, grapefruit, lemon, tangerine, lime, etc.). Descriptor used in the beer, wines, sodas and teas.

Spice Reminiscent of various spices such as black pepper and cinnamon. Descriptor used in the beer and wines.

Earthy Reminiscent of earth, such as forest floor or mushrooms. Descriptor used in the beer and wines.

Bitter Sharp, pungent. Descriptor used in the beer, wines, sodas and teas.

Sweet Sugar, honey or “fresh.” Descriptor used in the sodas and teas.

Herbal Reminiscent of herbs. Descriptor used in the beer, sodas and teas.

Floral Reminiscent of flowers or floral aromas. Descriptor used in wines, sodas and teas.

Product Information

Soda: Gazosa. A refreshing and fizzy vegan soft drink.

Tea: ChariTea. Organic and fair-trade tea drinks.

Prosecco: Prosecco Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOCG

White Wine: Riesling x Madeleine Royale

Red Wine: Samsara

Beer: Docteur Gab’s