The category of choice this week on Supermarket Superstar was natural foods. Three contestants vied to get their product on supermarket shelves. One was a mom who developed her gluten-free product in response to her son's health issues. Another was a woman who was trying to make her food truck work so that she could repay loans from her parents and friends. The last was a father inspired to leave the world a better place for his daughter.
Hannah, a young mother, started experimenting with gluten-free foods after her young son was diagnosed with a neurological disorder. The doctors found that a change in diet helped keep the boy's symptoms at bay. Mom stepped up to help develop foods he'd not only willingly eat, but also love. One was a sweet treat called Whoppin' Whoopie Pies. It consisted of two cookies filled with a sweet, creamy center.
The mentors loved the taste of the cream center but urged the contestant to better stabilize it so it wouldn't squish out so easily. They also suggested she make smaller, bite sized pies that would be easier to eat. Finally, they urged some finessing of the cookies to make them look more appetizing.
The next contestant, Hoda, developed an alternative to apple pie. She called it the Apple Bomb. It consisted of a whole apple stuffed with a cinnamon and sugar filling, wrapped in pie dough.
Again, the mentors loved the taste but worried the dessert might contain too many calories because of its large size. They also thought the dough used to wrap the apple was too thick. They encouraged Hoda to take a look at ways to curb the calorie count and fix the dough.
The last contestant, John, presented his version of a protein bar. The catch was that the protein came from an unusual source—crickets. He explained his belief that Americans needed to start eating sustainable foods like insects.
Mentor Debbi Fields was in no hurry to try the cricket bar. She did, however, manage to take a bite. She was surprised at the taste as were her fellow mentors. Overall they liked the food item. They just weren't certain the American consumer was ready to willingly eat insects. They also suggested that John switch to something that would help hold the bar together better. It was a bit too soft for their liking.
As the contestants worked to revise their recipes, Chef Chiarello and mentor Andrew Hunter walked around helping them. Chef Chiarello blanched at the whopping 1260 calorie count of Hoda's Apple Bomb. He was also unhappy with the pricetag, which weighed in at over $12 per apple. He suggested she cut the size of the product and change the pie dough to a fillo crust. While Hoda was willing to make the first change, she opted to keep her original crust. Consequently, neither her calorie count nor her price was significantly lowered.
Andrew Hunter suggested that Hannah add cellulose to her pie filling to give it more body. He hoped it would help keep the filling from squishing out between the outer cookies. Both he and Chef Chiarello were pleased with the size change made by the competitor. It made the pie easier to consume.
Hunter also suggested a change for John. He suggested using peanut butter instead of almond butter to bind the bars together. John took the idea and ran with it. Consequently, his protein bars came out with a more solidified look and feel.
The products done, the contestants waited for the reviews of a focus group consisting of personal trainers. The trainers had the same reaction to John's cricket protein bars as the mentors. Nonetheless, once they tasted them, most of them were sold on the idea. Many thought the competitor was on to something revolutionary but perhaps ahead of its time.
Hannah's bite-sized pies were a hit, especially once the judges discovered they were gluten free. Most of them agreed it was a product they would gladly purchase or recommend to their clientele.
The focus group was split on Hoda's Apple Bombs. Some felt the ratio of dough to apple was off balance. Others liked the extra dough. What the judges couldn't get over, however, was the high calorie count. Most agreed they could not in good conscience recommend it to their clientele.
Based on the focus group's recommendations one contestant was eliminated. It was Hoda. Her high calorie count and equally high price point could not be overlooked.
Moving into the packaging phase, Hannah and John seriously revamped their existing logos and packaging designs. Hannah dumped the busy picture of her son on the logo and instead went with a derivative of his name—Izzy—for the product's name. While her packaging wasn't overly exciting, it was clean, crisp and to the point.
John struggled with letting the cricket go from his label. He didn't want it perceived that he was tricking people into eating insects. In the end, he compromised; kept the cricket but down played it. The result was a very attractive label.
Packaging complete, the contestants faced the A & P buyer for a chance to become the Supermarket Superstar. While the buyer initially blanched at the idea of eating crickets, he was intrigued enough to try the protein bar. Once he did, he was impressed. However, he wasn't certain the world was ready to eat insects.
The story behind Hannah's product touched the buyer. However, he didn't let that make the decision for him. Instead in focused on the product's taste. Was it enough to win her the competition?
Yes it was. Hannah was this week's winner in the natural food category. She'll move forward to the finale, hopefully winning a chance to further develop her product.