Aisle Chatter

Karen is the director of marketing/digital strategy and the specialty foods editor at Food World and Food Trade News. With many years under her belt in the hospitality, food & beverage, and retail food industries, she transitioned to the media side of the business in 2011. She can be reached at

In this new age of feminism when we are seeing #MeToo gain more momentum with each passing day, not all female-centric concepts are created equal. Case in point: low crunch female friendly chips? PepsiCo’s FEMALE CEO Indra Nooyi discussed the upcoming launch for this new product earlier this month on an interview for the “Freakonomics” podcast, stating that women “don’t like to crunch too loudly in public.” She continued, “They don’t lick their fingers generously and they don’t pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.”  Nooyi also stated, “low-crunch, the full taste profile, not have so much of the flavor stick on the fingers, and how can you put it in a purse? Because women love to carry a snack in their purse.” If mansplaining could be turned into a food product, this would be it. The immediate backlash online and on social media was not at all surprising considering the internalized misogyny this concept presented, and it soon had the company backtracking. A spokesperson for PepsiCo told Fox News that “the reporting on a specific Doritos product for female consumers is accurate.” The spokesperson also said, “We already have Doritos for women – they’re called Doritos, and they’re enjoyed by millions of people every day. At the same time, we know needs and preferences continue to evolve and we’re always looking for new ways to engage and delight our consumers.” As a lover of Doritos and the messiness and noisiness that comes along with them, I am happy to hear that they are taking this horrible idea off the shelf, so to speak. This definitely gets the prize for “worst product pitch of the month.”

As convenience stores are making concerted efforts to provide heathier options, 7-Eleven is leading the charge with the introduction of a new line of cold-pressed proprietary juices that are part of the c-store’s private label line of premium, better-for-you snack beverages called “7-Select GO! Smart.” The juices, which come in four varieties (Clean & Green, Tropical Glow, Berry & Bright and Restoration Red), are USDA-certified organic and are made from whole fruits and vegetables. They are also certified fair trade, non-GMO project verified, gluten free, no added sugar, shelf stable and come in a glass bottle instead of plastic. They are also 100 percent fruit juice blends or vegetable and fruit juice blends and vegan. All the bullet points that today’s health conscious consumer wants to check off their list, right? Tim Cogil, director of new product development for 7-Eleven, said, “When you compare this new line of 7-Select GO! Smart cold-pressed juices head-to-head with nationally recognized premium juice brands, well, there is no comparison.” Cogil continued, “Ours are organic and cold-pressed, without additives and not from concentrate. Typically, this level of quality is only found at juice and smoothie restaurants.” With 93 percent of Americans living within 10 minutes of a convenience store and roughly 160 million customers being served each day at the 154,535 locations across the U.S. (this according to the National Association of Convenience Stores – NACS), the step towards providing more healthful eating and drinking options is a very important one.

One of the first things that come to mind when the thought of February comes up, particularly with retailers, is Valentine’s Day. However, the second month of the year is also American Heart Month, a federally designated event meant to encourage people to focus on cardiovascular health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, but the good news is that it can often be prevented with healthful food and lifestyle choices. With this is mind, Giant Food is hosting free “Heart Healthy” store tours throughout the Maryland, Delaware, northern Virginia and D.C. area for the month of February. These tours will be led by in-store nutritionists who will point out items that affect heart health such as fat and sodium while providing tips and suggestions for preparing heart healthy meals. “Modest diet and lifestyle changes can improve heart health and lower risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 80 percent according to the American Heart Association,” said Lisa Coleman, lead nutritionist at Giant Food. “Giant’s team of nutritionists are passionate about teaching shoppers how simple it can be to make healthy choices. We look forward to meeting with customers throughout the month and talking to them about heart health.” I love it when the grocery stores offer these types of tours because not only does it educate its customers on healthy eating options, but it also shows them where exactly in the store they can find these items. It is also a great way for customers to meet the in-house nutritionists. I think many customers don’t realize they have such accessible resources available to them for health management so events like this that highlight these options are always a great thing to see.


Last month, it was announced that Giant Food’s sister banner, Giant/Martin’s, was once again named the best grocery store in Pennsylvania by the Daily Meal, having previously received the honor in 2016. The Daily Meal, a website dedicated to food and drink, compiled the state-by-state rankings by looking at online reviews, local polls, social media and check-ins. Informal polls were also conducted with locals to find out more about product quality, customer service and store cleanliness. “We are both thrilled and humbled by this recognition from the Daily Meal, but the real credit belongs to our amazing team of associates who deliver for our customers every day,” said Nicholas Bertram, president of Gian/Martin’s. “For 95 years we’ve helped bring families, friends, and communities together around the table with fresh, quality products found at our many neighborhood stores or delivered right to their doorstep.” Congrats on such a great honor!

Weis Markets announced that it has upgraded its Preferred Shopper program by now offering discount rewards on nine Weis brand products. Customers can earn one point for every dollar spent using their Preferred Shopper card when buying groceries and once they earn 100 points, are eligible for discounts on Certified Angus 75 percent ground beef ($1.99 for a 1.25 pound package), Weis Quality Organic Milk ($3.99 a gallon), bananas (19 cents per pound) and six other products.  Customers are also eligible for a 10 cent per gallon discount at Weis Gas’ N Go fuel centers and participating Sheetz, Mirabito, High’s and Carroll Motor Fuels locations. “Our upgraded rewards program now offers more of our customers reward discounts on some of our best-selling products and is particularly helpful to those in areas with limited gas reward options,” said Ron Bonacci, vice president of marketing and advertising for Weis Markets. “Our rewards program has always been a tremendous success but many of our customers wanted the additional option of saving on the products they regularly purchase. Ultimately, we wanted to give them more flexibility in their reward choices.” The Sunbury, PA-based chain has also added a 10 percent discount on 6,000 Weis brand items for seniors 60 years of age and older on Tuesdays, including: Weis Quality, Weis Signature Collection, Weis Organics, Valu Time, Full Circle and TopCare. To obtain the discount, seniors needs to present a valid ID at register on a one-time basis.


Finally, I’d like to congratulate Harris Teeter on the grand opening of their newest store in California, MD at the St. Mary’s Marketplace. “Harris Teeter is extremely excited to join the California, MD community with our brand new St. Mary’s Marketplace store,” said Danna Robinson, communication manager for Harris Teeter. “We look forward to meeting our new neighbors – many of whom may be new to the Harris Teeter family. We hope those new to our brand see firsthand what sets Harris Teeter apart – superior customer service; knowledgeable, friendly associates; beautiful, modern facilities; excellent quality and vast selection including extensive fresh meal offerings; as well as personalized promotions and offers.”  The store has many unique features including: an extended hot foods bar in the Fresh Foods department; a wing bar; an expanded Fishermans Market featuring handmade lobster rolls and steamed seafood daily; drive-through pharmacy; ExpressLane online shopping; and an events station which will feature weekly meal specials and an indoor, sit-down eating area. The sushi offerings alone were enough to keep me coming back and the buzz among the customers was one of excitement and appreciation for all that the new store had to offer. Kudos for a job well done!

Until next month…