The yearly Trend Award ceremony was only a few weeks away and while the nominations had been announced, the winners were not yet finalized. The categories ranged from Best New Trend, Lifestyle Impact Award, Best New Packaging Trend, and the coveted Trend of the Year award. The winners were determined based on a point system split between a panel of judges and call in votes from fans following the final interview panel. Those nominated are put through an interview which is televised for the voting audience. Here is a peak at the final day of interviews.
The stage was overly bright which made it harder for nominees to see the studio audience but easier to focus on the judges. The nominees shifted in their seats as the panel of judges entered the stage and crossed to their seats while the audience cheered. Nominees were told that they would be judged in tandem interviews instead of separately this year. Many of the entrants had left already, having survived their cross examinations, and just two remained to convince the judges they deserved to win the Lifestyle Impact award. Judge #1 motioned to the audience for quiet and addressed the two nominees – Snack and Breakfast.
Judge #1: "Thank you for coming, we will try to make this as painless as possible", he said with a smile. "As you know, you will both be asked questions in three areas – your ties to health, consumer interest and government activity surrounding your specific trend. Let's start with government, shall we? Breakfast, why don't you begin – what has been the recent activity around government and, well...you?"
Breakfast: "Oh, well, the USDA and I go waaaayyy back. But most recently, the states of IL, KY, and TN were selected to participate in the first year of a universal free meal service option under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act - which I am a part of. North Carolina is also considering a bill to establish statewide nutrition guidelines for food sold in schools, which of course I am sure I will benefit from."
Judge #3 gives a knowing look to the other two judges and proceeds.
Judge #3: "That does bode well for you indeed. What about your relationship with the government, Snack?"
Snack shifts in his seat to stall while searching for the words. Looking to his shoes for the answers he begins.
Snack: "While I don't have the history that Breakfast has with the USDA, there are new Bills on the table which mention me and which I think I have a chance to shine if industry plays their cards right. For example, The Nevada Senate approved Senate Bill 230, which bans foods and beverages containing trans fats in vending machines and in school lunches of Nevada public and charter schools, except those provided through school lunch programs. We can really shine here I think."
The three judges nodded while frowning at the same time as if to reluctantly acknowledge Snack's optimism.
Judge #2: "Are we to understand that your only interactions with government primarily involve the National School Lunch Program?"
Both nominees nodded.
Judge #2: "Let's move onto consumer interest.
Judge #1: "Yes, how do consumers feel about you both?"
Snack: "Packaged Facts reported that U.S. retail sales of packaged snacks grew to $64 billion in 2010 and it is expected to reach $77 billion by 2015. And Market Force Information reported that consumers prefer certain private-label products over others, including snacks. Also, researchers with the American Dietetic Association found that kids are replacing breakfast and dinner with snacks more often now. Busy lifestyles have driven consumers away from traditional meals toward quick, convenient foods, helping growth in the global snack foods market, according to Global Industry Analysts (GIA). GIA reported that the global snack food market is likely to be worth as much as $334bn by 2015.
Breakfast: "While Snack has excellent support, Mintel reported that 66% of customers want restaurants to give them healthier breakfast options and Pinnacle Foods found that 94% consumers start the day with breakfast and 56% make an effort to choose breakfast options they feel good about. Industry loves me too as QSR magazine says approximately 47% of all commercial foodservice units currently have at least some breakfast items. And don't forget the Kellogg study that reported 34% of adults eat breakfast daily."
Judge #1: "Very good, that leaves us with your ties to health. What do you have to offer regarding clinical research?"
*To be continued in "Breakfast and Snack Vie for Lifestyle Impact Award - Part II"
* Click here for Part 1.
Breakfast could hardly contain herself – her biggest problem was where to start as she has years of clinical research she can tap into. Consumers of Breakfast commonly have a lower body mass index (BMI) and better cognitive function compared to those who skip Breakfast. Best to stick with the last six months to begin and then add to it if need be.
On the contrary, Snack was looking least forward to this portion of the interview. Clinical research was not as friendly to him as it is toward Breakfast. At first, snack was touted as the great hope for obesity as if snacks were to replace meals maybe fewer calories would be consumed during the day. But that's not how things shook out in the end. Snack, instead, found himself at the center of a mixed bag of research – some favoring his weight loss prowess, while others placed him squarely as a cause for rising obesity as consumers turned out to eat their three traditional meals as well as adding snacks to their day.
Breakfast: "The majority of clinical research shows that consumers who eat breakfast have a lower BMI but it was not clear why until recently. It was the University of Missouri that reported skipping breakfast increases brain activity that drives eating. Researchers from the University of Nottingham found subjects who skipped breakfast ate more calories later in the day and surpassed energy intake levels compared to those who did not skip breakfast."
Judge #3: "You forgot to mention what the researchers at the Center of Nutritional Medicine in Munich."
Breakfast: "Oh, well yes, they reported that eating a bigger breakfast doesn't reduce number of daily calories. But the University of Pennsylvania found the exact opposite. And in my defense, this isn't representative of the majority of studies. Eating breakfast has also been shown to improve focus, memory and cognitive function among Gen Y, Gen Z, Boomers and WWII generations. The University of Tasmania researchers also reported that skipping breakfast may increase your risk of heart disease"
Judge #3: "Snack, what would you like to offer?"
Snack: "The most recent research by the Universite Libre de Brazil found that decreasing food-item size without having to alter the portion size offered may reduce energy intake at snacking occasions. I must also offer that most clinical research is not on my side including the suggestion by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that efforts to reduce obesity should focus on reducing the number of meals and snacks and portion sizes. Really, it boils down to what the snack is really. The University of Tennessee found that the lower the energy density or smaller the portion size – the lower the average calorie intake. In other words, snacks only contribute to obesity when their energy content is high and satiety is low. I don't really think I should be blamed for the whole obesity tie though.
Judge #2: "What about beverages then?"
Snack: "Yes, well beverages have risen as a snack and does easily contribute to empty calories – I acknowledge that, but only when they are used in addition to total calorie intake for the day. I am best able to play the part of the hero when it comes to diabetic consumers and helping them regulate their blood sugar. I am actually part of a standard diabetic's diet plan. I also specialize in focus for all generations to help them with accuracy and task completion throughout the day."
Judge #3 was impressed but not unduly so. She turned away from the candidates and spoke for a moment to the other judges with a sideways tilt of her head making it impossible to make out what she was saying. The others lifted their heads upward in approval and so Judge #3 pressed on.
Judge #3: "It is all well to quote studies, but where do you think you each are headed next?"
Snack: "If companies position me as a meal substitute, a means to aid focus throughout the day, or as a means for blood regulation then I cannot be used as a scapegoat for the obesity crisis. Also, as I can be consumed at all hours this sets me up to not only compete with appetizers and other day parts but replace them. I must be seen as a meal replacement, not always an adjunct. I offer flexibility to consumers."
Breakfast: "Well, I am the only day part that is backed by health research. Lunch and dinner are currently not well studied, so their impact on obesity or any other disease state is not understood. As consumers are looking for breakfast options throughout the day, as Hartman has reported, I too now compete with all day parts. I am loved by the government and moms as well. "
The judges thanked the candidates for their time and left the studio audience with the thought that regardless of how the judges voted, it was up to the viewing audience to judge the nominees for themselves.
Suzy Badaracco is a toxicologist, chef, and registered dietitian. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Criminalistics, an Associates degree in Culinary Arts, and a Masters of Science degree in Human Nutrition.