They say opposites attract. But in food and drink, the best flavour combos are the ones that harmoniously bring together flavours and textures that enhance and balance each other. Peanut butter and jelly, cinnamon and apple, wine and cheese… the list of classic pairings is endless.
With consumers on the lookout for novel food experiences, brands and manufacturers are happy to take on the challenge, hoping to create buzz on social media and to see their products go viral. Mintel has selected nine of the oddest couples in food and drink, pairing the unpairable.
Chocolate’s savoury pairings
Hotel Chocolat – Pesto with cocoa nibs (UK)
Made with rough-chopped basil, crunchy pine nuts, Italian cheese and nutty roast cocoa nibs, this pesto is said to be outstanding with pasta, risotto, crusty bread, cold meats or straight from the jar as a dip. Cocoa nibs are packed with flavour, crunchy texture and also antioxidants, iron and magnesium and it’s little wonder they have been tipped to be a more prolific food ingredient in future.
Calbee Plus – Potato chips with strawberry and chocolate (Japan)
Chocolate has moved into salty snacks, bridging the sweet-savory divide. And with so many types of chocolate from which to choose, the potential for even more imaginative chocolate-flavored snacks is to be expected. This thick-cut potato snack is seasoned with sweet and sour strawberries and topped with a mild chocolate sauce and coconut, cashew nut and roasted almond slices.
Taiga – Chocolate with smelt fish (Finland)
Even the bravest palates may feel challenged by this chocolate bar made with dried smelt. The company uses traditional Nordic ingredients such as lingonberry, bilberry and sea buckthorn, as well as unusual flavour pairings such as smelt fish and dried reindeer meat, also available as part of the chocolate range.
The funkiest ice cream?
Peekaboo – Chocolate ice Cream with hidden cauliflower (USA)
This organic ice cream contains cauliflower for “veggies in every bite” and claims to be for those who know they should eat vegetables but don’t get enough of them. The line also includes vanilla with hidden zucchini. Vegetables such as sweet potato, ube, red bean and even corn appear as ice cream flavors around the world. Cauliflower is a new addition to the category though, as is Peekaboo’s positioning of getting “hidden” veg into the diet.
La Ibense Bornay – Olive oil ice cream (Spain)
Veganism may be niche, but the claim is growing in the ice cream sector, making consumers more familiar with the concept. To overturn perceptions of dairy-free ice creams as not as indulgent as dairy-based versions, manufacturers are increasing their products’ indulgenceappeal. This vegan ice cream, for instance, is made with olive oil and is said to be uniquely creamy.
Yee Kwan – Miso ice cream (UK)
Miso is a traditional Japanese paste produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji, and sometimes rice, barley or other ingredients. It’s most commonly used in soups or as a marinade, but it’s now making its way into sweet recipes, pairing well with chocolate. This miso and chocolate ice cream is said to be particularly rich and to create a salty caramel taste in the mouth.
Stumptown – Ginger citrus sparkling cold-brew coffee (USA)
This is what Jonny Forsyth, Associate Director, Food & Drink at Mintel had to say about this fizzy, ginger-flavoured cold brew coffee: “I tried it out of a sense of duty as a coffee analyst, but did so with a great foreboding… weirdly, it worked. It retained the refreshment you would expect from a citrus-based sparkling soft drink, but with a pleasing and slightly rich adult edge. I finished the whole can with a renewed respect for this new genre of fizzy cold brew sodas.”
Wei Chuan Jazswing – Sake Latte
The Taiwanese food company Wei Chuan has introduced a new ready-to-drink (RTD) chilled alcoholic coffee latte that incorporates sake, making it likely to be the first of its kind in Taiwan. With less than 0.5% alcohol, it targets individuals who prefer drinks with a relatively low alcohol content. The brand’s Mandarin name sounds similar to the word for ‘happy’ and is positioned to ‘deliver joy’ to consumers.
Zhaohui – Tea with Beef Marrow Bone (China)
As consumers all over the world learn about the health benefits of drinking bone broth, also known as ‘meat tea’, convenient ready-made versions of the product are becoming more widely available in supermarkets. This instant version from China is said to be rich, mellow, salty and sweet, and is free from additives.