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


Christy said...

I am so excited about the square crusts! I've loved each and every product of yours that I've tried and the square crusts will fit so much better with my pizza stone (also square).

YAY! I can hardly wait to get some.

The Skipper said...

My wife utilizes your product and the Pizza Crust will be a hit as she has the recipe for Sphia Loren Pizza. She also mentioned to me that you have been advertising for a Shipper/Receiver for some time now. I responded that I can't believe that you haven't filled the position by now, given the great company that Kinnikinnick is!

Stacey said...

We are so anxious to try the new square crust. A more family friendly size would be great too! Maybe a 16 inch?

GFCF Mommy Octopus AKA Hungry Mommy said...

I'm excited about this new change!

I look forward to a family size crust.

You guys rock!

Jennifer said...

Love every product I have treid, but I do have problems finding your products locally because I live in rural Alabama. I drive 2 hours to Whole Foods market one time per month to buy. They don't carry many of the things I would like to try. As far as pizza crusts, yours is the best and most cost effective we have tried. I refuse to pay 15 dollars for one pizza crust and I often don't have time to make one from scratch. Thank you for making such great products.

Andree said...

This is exciting news indeed! We use up a whole 4 10" package of the rounds crusts in one sitting with 2 adults and two small children (2 & 4). Larger size, well, somewhere along the lines of what "large" is in Pizza Restaurants would likely be appreciated. Not what the frozen pizza brands' try and convince us is a large. Those are barely big enough for 2, although they are caloric enough for 6 often times...

Keep up the fantastic news and change is more often than not a GOOD thing :D

Allison said...

I have been trying to get your products in Montclair and/or West Orange, NJ Whole Foods for over a year with empty promisses from Whole Foods! Can you help, I would love to be able to qhickly pick-up one of your crusts!

Anonymous said...

16 inch would be a good size.
Thanks for your great tasting product line!

Gluten free in Wichita said...

i just want to say that I actually love how sweet the crust is!

Jon said...

The square crusts are the BOMB! I was shocked when I first saw them in my grocer's freezer. I didnt like the thickness of the old ones and even trimmed them in half to make a crispier crust. This new crust with the perfect amount of corn meal on the bottom has me loving pizza even more.

Jen Z. said...

The shape doesn't bother me at all and I am always excited about improved taste, but you've also DOUBLED the calories in ONE CRUST! I thought I was going to cry when I saw that ONE HALF of the crust was almost 250 calories, and who just eats one half of a personal sized pizza? The old crusts were only 123 calories. FOR THE WHOLE CRUST.
I doubt I'll be buying these very often for that reason. It's a shame, I had been really excited to be able to eat pizza again.

JayB said...

The previous number of servings for our 7 inch crusts was 16 per package or 1/4 of a crust. We've increased the serving size to be in line with the standard pizza crust serving size (about 70g) as recommended by the CFIA and the FDA. Based on this serving size, the calories are almost identical from the old to the new formulation. (123 for 1/4 crust, 248 for 1/2 crust). One thing to note is that we have increased the fiber and reduced the sugar substantially. While the calories may be the same, the source of the calories is "better" for you (fiber vs. sugar)

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed with the new pizza crust, having celiac it was hard to find a tasty pizza crust until I found you a couple of years ago - I was thrilled with your sweet tasty fluffy dough. With the new crusts you added cornmeal. I liked your old pizza as well as it was mostly rice flour. Corn is a highly allergenic food and harder to digest. I ate your pizza crust every day , now I have no alternative for my lunches. Real pizza doesn't taste like corn. Greatly disappointed!

JayB said...

We actually have a lot less corn in the new crusts. The previous crusts were about 30% cornstarch. The new ones only have the cornmeal which is a processing aid.

As I mentioned in the article, the major complaints were that the crusts were "too sweet" and "too thick". Unfortunately, when a change is made to a product, we know some people are not going to be happy but we feel we've hit the right balance and the vast majority of feedback has been very positive.

Anonymous said...

Well the square crust was a little problem at first for my 17 year old with Autism. But I just showed him your article and got a smirk from him. We were lucky enough to find some round in the stores and alternate between the two. But we are coming to an end. I think we are ok for now.
It's not clear if the larger pizzas are round. Will have to look into that, but will continue to order the square smaller ones too. We do love your products and I tell new parents to the GfCf diet about your website all the time. Love to order direct instead of the stores.
Joyce in MA.

Anonymous said...

The round pizza crust are my all time favorite GF product. I was devastated when I found out they were not available any more. I like the texture and thickness. My non celiac family members even buy them. I have not sampled the new square ones, but will give them a try. I love all the Kinikinnick products. I'll be glad to take any left over round ones off your hands.

JayB said...

At this point, we haven't changed the format or formulation of our 10" round crusts. If you do miss the cake-ier, sweeter older version you can still order the larger size. We do plan on making a formulation/format change to the larger size at some time in the next couple of months, but until then, get 'em while we still got 'em.

JayB said...

(but you'll have to order them directly as very few stores carry them)

Bill P said...

I used to enjoy your new york style bagels, but last summer something happened to the product that when it was toasted, it had a very chemical odor. I wish you would go back to your original formula. I missed the product.

karen said...

WE LOVE THE NEW CRUSTS!! Thank you. Our son eats one per week in his lunches and they are soooo much easier to pack now. And whatever the formulation change was, it has attracted my husband to your brand of GF crusts.

Anonymous said...

Well I have just read all teh comments here. We have not bought your new formulated pizza crusts yet. My son eats one of your pizza crusts every week and I stocked up last December when I had a coupon for a local health food store. I bought every package they had.

Its the shape that we can't get past.

Just one more thing to point out the differences in my child with autism. He has loved his weekly pizza and it looks the same as everyone else's. We'll give the new one a try but I am truly dissappointed. We have 2 round crusts left.

JayB said...

We do know that sensory issues can be a big deal and that the shape may be an issue for some. We did spend a lot of time discussing the shape but in the end it came down to this. As mentioned in the article, we really didn't have any choice. We could not continue to make round crusts by hand.

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed with the new recipe because with IBS you want to stay away from dextrose and other sugars. I eat the old crusts 4-5 times a week. I will try the 10 inch with the old recipe, but it's bigger than I need for 1 person.
How about making both the new and old crusts? The machine made will keep up with demand and the hand-made will satisfy people with digestion problems.