Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's Hip To Be Square

Many of you may have noticed the It's Hip To Be Square image on the main page of our website and have wondered what it's all about.

We've just completed almost a year of product development and equipment design to allow us to introduce our new Square Pizza Crust. These crusts are not only square but we've made some formulation changes to improve the taste and texture as well. In anticipation of the question "Why change them? I love them the way they are." I'll try to explain why we've made the change.

Why Square?

Over the last year I have received dozens (hundreds?) of emails similar the the one that arrived this morning:

"My local health food store keeps telling me that they can't get your pizza crust [...] What is the problem?"

Many of you are probably aware of the Donut Saga, which was our struggle to keep up with demand for donuts, our search for equipment and a formulation that would work with the equipment and the response we received to the new donut. Essentially, Kinnikinnick Pizza Crust has suffered from the same supply/demand problem. We simply couldn't make them fast enough. Each crust was formed by hand and baked in small batches. We've known this was an issue for about 18 months and began the process of looking for new equipment which could produce our crusts in a more automated fashion. However, like the donuts, there simply isn't any pizza crust equipment available that would work with our gluten free pizza dough. About 12 months ago, our product development team sat down with our facilities staff and I said,

"OK, let's build our own pizza line...

"From scratch."

All things considered, they took it pretty well.

One of the things that quickly became apparent was that it would be virtually impossible to automate a round pizza crust with our dough. Most traditional wheat based equipment uses a system which picks up the excess dough created when cutting a round shape. Our doughs are simply too soft for us to automate this. We knew our only option was to get "square". We had some concerns about consumer acceptance but we found that a web search for "square pizza" returned almost 60,000 matches. Square pizza is quite common.

Why Reformulate?

We always get nervous when we reformulate a product. We know that some people will be upset with the changes we make but we always make changes for solid reasons.

As with the donuts, some changes were necessary simply to make the dough work with the equipment we were using (building). These kinds of changes often have most impact on texture. We make changes to get the required physical properties in the raw dough. It turns out that the changes needed with the pizza crust have improved the texture substantially. The new crusts are crispy yet have a nice chewiness which is very similar to a wheat flour crust.

When we look at make major changes to a product we take look at our product comment files and see if there are additional issues we could address to make the product even better. The biggest complaint with the old crusts was that they were "too sweet". I must admit that I was not a huge fan of the old crusts for this very reason. The second issue was that they were "too thick" although thickness was quite variable due to the fact that they were hand formed. On average, we agreed that they were thicker than we'd like.

We've addressed both these issues with the new formulation. The crusts are substantially less sweet and thinner. And since we are always looking to improve the nutritional value of our products we've made them better for you.

The nutritional highlights for a single serving (1 crust):

  • 10 Grams of Fiber
  • 7 Grams of Protein
  • Only 75 Grams of Carbs
  • Vitamin Enriched
One thing I'd like to note for those few people with pea allergies is that the new formulation does contain pea protein.

Drum Roll Please

As of yesterday, we started full production of the new square pizza crusts. You'll be seeing them arrive shortly in your orders directly from us. Shipments to distributors will start this week so they will be showing up in stores in 2-3 weeks. The automation of the line should very quickly eliminate the shortages that stores are seeing and make the new Square Pizza Crust available to even more people.

The Future

We will continue hand forming 10 inch crusts as we only offer this size in the direct to home market. The other thing this new equipment allows us to do is to look at producing a larger, family size crust that can be produced in large quantities for mass distribution. We think 10 inch is a little small for a true family sized pizza so we'd be interested in what size you'd like to see. Just post a comment below and let us know what you think.

You can also look for new packaging which will begin appearing in late April. The 4 crusts will be wrapped in packages of 2 to help preverse freshness and will be available in a recyclable cardboard box.

In Closing

I really like these new crusts. Last night, I made pizza from the first production run of the new formulation for a non-celiac friend of mine. His comment was "This is awesome."

We think so. We hope you do to.

Remember, as Huey Lewis says It's Hip To Be Square

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Kinnikinnick Donuts Now Free of Artificial Flavours and Colours

Happy New Year to all.

We are pleased to announce that as of last December, we began producing our own donut icing. This has allowed us to completely remove the artificial colours and flavours from our donut line. We are now using pure cocoa and natural maple flavours in their place.

We did not want to be in the icing business but our supplier was not willing to make the change so we felt we had to do it ourselves. While many of our customers aren't concerned about artificial ingredients, we know that there are lots who are. Additionally, one of our major distributors discontinued the two varieties with the artificial ingredients, making them unavailable in many stores.

With this change, we expect that the distributor will reintroduce the two varieties and we would hope to see them become much more widely available in the coming months.

Please note that there may still be some boxes out in stores which contain the old ingredients. All boxes with the new formulation will be labeled with a new ingredient panel. Once we have used our existing box inventory, new boxes will be printed with the new ingredient list.