Micro Market Innovation

Self-service micro markets are a fresh idea for a new break-time experience by combining fresh, nutritious meals and snacks with ease of use and technological innovation. Micro markets are more limited and focused on a select group of consumers, offering a full range of healthier products. These markets have a wide variety of tasty and healthy options with the convenience of having a fresh marketplace within your company campus. With soups, salads, fruits, vegetables, frozen foods, cold drinks, and other snack foods, there is enough diversity to please everyone.

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Micro markets are self-checkout convenience installations that offer 24/7 retail-style merchandising with state-of-the-art unattended self-checkout kiosk technology. With the choice of a variety of fresh foods, snacks, and beverages, you can have open product access and a variety of healthy and fresh food selections. Not only do employees have access to hundreds of healthy products, but they can also take time to evaluate product labels and nutritional information before making a purchase. Micro markets are an innovating and exciting way to make break-time a little more fun and much healthier, which increase employee morale and productivity.

Employees who stay on campus can get back to work quicker and are more likely to be satisfied with the healthy options. Associates can accumulate points with the purchase of healthy items to encourage healthier choices. Micro markets have a simple and secure checkout process: employees checkout using their own credit/debit cards, key tag, or smartphones. Each company has unique needs so each company’s micro market is designed slightly different.

Some key benefits of having a micro market in your company include:

  • Convenience: Company Kitchen is open 24/7
  • Cashless kiosk: Use a market card, credit or debit card to pay
  • Fresh-made foods and a great selection
  • Nutritional tracking allows employees to create a personal, online profiles to track nutritional data

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Snacking around the World

The variety of snacks you can get just by walking into your average grocery store can be pretty mesmerizing. You can get chips that come in a plethora of flavors; you can get pretzels (sweet or salty); you can get candy or chocolate bars; you can get cookies or crackers; you can get nuts or seeds, and the list really goes on endlessly. In the US, chips and cookies are the staple snack, but around the world, palates and flavors differ entirely.

We brought in some unusual snacks from around the world to the office and had everyone give them a try. Then we had everyone guess which country the snacks originated from. It was a blast seeing everyone’s amusement with the kinds of snacks we laid out. Here’s what went down.

We managed to get some of the snacks from local ethnic markets in Des Moines, but had to order the rest online because they were too difficult to find.

Boxes from Amazon

Country-labeled PlatesCountry-labeled Plates 2

First up, they tried some Dela Rosa, a sweet marzipan peanut candy from Mexico. They came individually packed in little round pieces, and it was a powdery consistency that pretty much broke once we opened the little wrappers. No one could guess where this was from, but we definitely weren’t expecting that level of sweetness from it.

De La Rosa box De La Rosa open box

Next, everyone had a go at TimTams. I think these were the safest looking food on the table, and everyone just loved them. We even had people asking for seconds. This Australian chocolate cookie snack is a definite must-try :) They are available on Amazon in the US!

Tim Tam Tim Tam Open

These little burgers are the cutest thing you’ll ever eat, AND they are delicious! At first, they seemed a little curious, but when everyone had one, we were very much immediate fans of Every Burger! This Japanese snack is actually a rich chocolate sandwiched between mini wheat cookies. Who else would come up with little chocolate burger snacks, other than the Japanese :)

Every Burger Every Burger PacketEvery Burger Opened

Dried cuttlefish is actually a pretty typical Asian snack, especially in China. It is very much just plain dried cuttlefish, and it has quite a sweet tang. Unfortunately. it also packs in a heavy fishy smell that had everyone on their feet before trying a tiny piece of this. As it turns out, most Americans probably will have a hard time overcoming that smell long enough to enjoy this interesting snack, although there were one or two people at the office who actually enjoyed this one!

Dried Cuttle Fish Dried Cuttle Fish packaging

These squid-flavored peanuts are common on Korea (although this packet is from Japan). They seemed a little peculiar at first, but everyone seemed to enjoy them. In fact, they were really addictive and the bag was gone before we could get proper pictures of the little squid-peanut balls :)

Roasted Squid-flavored Peanuts

Next on the menu, Muruku from India! This was the easiest to guess which country it came from, and everyone got it right. It has a distinct spice and curry taste and is a common savory, crunchy snack in India. Definitely a simple, but flavor-packed snack to try if you ever get the chance !

Muruku Muruku pieces

This last snack is a fun walk down memory lane for 90s kids in Malaysia and Singapore. No one got this guess right, but they were very much amused with its ramen-ness.

Mamee Monster Mamee Monster Opened

That was a real fun activity to have in the office. What other interesting snacks have you tried from around the world? Let us know, and maybe we’ll try them in the next round :)

Country Flags Country Flags Country Flags Country Flags

All Hallows’ Eve and Pumpkin Festivities!

Happy Halloween!

What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?
PUMPKIN PI!

That’s right, it’s that time of the year again where we stock up candy inventories, plan out costumes, show off makeup skills and start to see pumpkin everywhere. And when we say “everywhere”, we really mean everywhere! We all know about the Pumpkin Spice Latte and the Pumpkin Oreos, but there are a couple of other interesting Halloween-themed products out there every year! Let’s take a look at some of them!

Cheetos Bag of Bones

What do you think of this first one? Cheetos Bag of Bones – they’re not exactly pumpkin-flavored, but they are definitely Halloween-themed! We bet they taste just as good as regular Cheetos and are extra fun to assemble!

Trident Pumpkin Spice LayersThe next one is Trident gum, what about these? Not sure what pumpkin gum is going to taste like and we haven’t seen these around, but we’re sure it’s going to be real interesting.

Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows

Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows! These have been around for a few years now and come out around this season every year. They’re pretty great actually – they make really interesting s’mores if you like pumpkin :)

TruMoo Halloween Milk

Orange Cream-Flavored Milk by TruMoo.This is new to us and is definitely a change from the usual full-cream milk or chocolate/strawberry milk. The color is very much appealing though! This will do great at the side with some pumpkin pie 😛

Disney Parks Pumpkin Fritters

Even the Disney Parks are getting into this holiday mood! Check out their menu add-ons and changes to fit in with this pumpkin-filled season here! These pumpkin fritters look amazing!

Ever wondered how pumpkins became associated with Halloween? It was brought to the US by the Irish; who had been carving “Jack-o’-Lanterns” for centuries. They say that the practice actually originated from an Irish myth about a man named “Stingy Jack”. If you’d like you learn more about Stingy Jack, click here. Don’t forget to share with us what other crazy Halloween snacks you’ve come across!

Have a Happy Halloween everyone!

Making Better Choices at the Vending Machine

Healthy Choices Header

From candy bars to fresh apple slices, the options we get at vending machines today are as diversified as ever before. With the increasing trends in health and wellness among individuals nowadays, vendors are beginning to place healthier snack options in their machines. An article in the Des Moines Register the other day caught our eye. It was an interview with Janette Batts, a registered dietitian and license dietitian nutritionist with UnityPoint Health – Des Moines as she shared her tips on how to make healthier choices at a vending machine. We absolutely loved her notes and what she had to say about a lot of our favorite snacks, so we decided to put together a short list of tips to making these healthier choices.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Look out for snacks that have already been labelled as the “Healthier Choice”
  2. Make use of vending machines that provide you with nutritional information of the snacks they carry
  3. Stay away from foods with high trans-fats, MSG and added sugar
  4. Learn the names for different forms of sugar such as fructose, molasses, malt, sucrose
  5. Ingredients that you can’t pronounce can usually be avoided
  6. Use a Food App to get educated on the foods you consume – like MyFitnessPal
  7. Candy bars are great but everything needs to be done in moderation
  8. If you like snacking frequently, then plan for lighter meals and then have wholesome snacks in between

Here are also Janette’s list of Best & Worse snacks from Vending Machines and some other ideas for snacks to pack from home:

Healthier Picks at a Vending Machine

Best Snacks from the Vending Machine:

  • Original Baked SunChips
  • Special K Cracker Chips
  • BelVita Breakfast Biscuits
  • Nabisco Toasted Wheat Thins
  • Water
  • Aquafina FlavorSplash
  • Lipton Diet Green Tea
  • 100% Fruit Juices

Unhealthier Picks at a vending machine

Worst Snacks from the Vending Machine:

  • Frito-Lay Corn Chips
  • Grandma’s cookies
  • Skittles
  • Orange Crush
  • Starbucks Frappaccino
  • Whole Chocolate Milk

Snacks from Home

Healthy Snack Alternatives to bring from Home

  • Popcorn
  • String Cheese
  • Hard-cooked Egg
  • Peanut Butter on Whole-grain Crackers
  • Raw/Dark Coca powder-dusted Almonds (1 oz or 24nuts)
  • Milk
  • Nonfat Yogurt
  • Vegetables with Hummus or Greek Yogurt
  • Fruit
  • Peanut Butter on Whole-grain Tortilla

What’s Your Lay’s Summer Flavor?

Lay's DUAF Logo

Frito-Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest in the US was a big hit again this summer with over 14 million submissions. Last year’s winning flavor –Cheesy Garlic Bread– was released to stores just a few weeks after the contest, and this year the contest brought about a whole bunch of new and bizarre flavors to the finals! There are a couple of really interesting ones this year so let’s take a look at them and some of the opinions from Huffington Post.

Lays BaconMac

Finalist #1: Lay’s Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese by Matt Allen
Classic American comfort food with a twist of Bacon – how great does that sound?! We think this flavor will do really well on shelves, even though it’s one of the more ‘normal’ flavors that we’ve seen in the contest.

Lays Cappuccino

Finalist #2: Lay’s Cappuccino by Chad Scott
This one is interesting enough! Who would’ve thought of a coffee-flavored potato chip?! Well, Chad did! This flavor probably has the most bizarre take on chips since most people would need to expect it to be more on the sweet end instead of the savory snack that chips are supposed to be.

Lays Mango

Finalist #3: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Mango Salsa by Julia Stanley-Metz
Salsa in my chips? Well why not?! This flavor is pretty ingenious just because it’s a flavor that conforms so well to the idea of chips. Hopefully the Mango gives it the extra kick it needs to take it to the next level.

Lays Wasabi

Finalist #4: Lay’s Wavy Wasabi Ginger by Meneko Spigner McBeth
This flavor is pretty exotic – definitely not your average chip flavor. If this bag of chips somehow reminds us of sushi, lay some on us! We just hope that the taste of wasabi and ginger isn’t too overwhelming and spicy.

All 4 of these flavors will be out on shelves in a few weeks and we’re really excited to give them a try! Each of these flavors has their strengths and everyone is going to have their own preference, so it’s going to be a close call! But that Cappuccino flavor is just so intriguing though, it’s definitely at the top of our list anyway. What about you?

Remember to save your favorite flavor at the Official Lay’s Do Us A Flavor site!