December 28th, 2015

The Latest LTOs: What’s To Eat Over Christmas Break

Posted in About Allison

The holiday season always brings with it a special set of flavors and foods that we all look forward to eating. Think pumpkin, cranberry, turkey, gingerbread and peppermint. Here are the latest to grace the holiday table:

Torchy’s Tacos: Austin’s own Torchy’s Tacos has a Taco-of-The-Month program and the December feature is the South Pole which is available between December 1 and 31.    Available at all 34 locations, the special features braised leg of lamb topped with a slightly sweet cranberry-habanero jam, fresh avocado, Diablo Hot Sauce, cotija cheese, cilantro, and French-fried onions. I actually tried this taco and the lamb was very well seasoned and tender. I would definitely recommend it if you are in Texas around Christmas time.

Bruster’s Ice Cream:  Bruster’s is celebrating the holiday with two seasonal flavors, Chocolate Peppermint and Eggnog. The Chocolate Peppermint features a velvety chocolate ice cream with red and green peppermint candy pieces swirled in. The Eggnog version features custardy vanilla notes.  Enjoy them plain, in a cone, or with your favorite sundae toppings.

Dog Haus: This southern California eatery touts itself as a craft hot dog concept. Featuring 100% beef skinless wieners. Their seasonal LTO centers on that Louisiana legend the Turducken. A sausage made with turkey, duck, chicken, cranberries, and sweet potatoes is topped with sage gravy, crispy onions and a Brussels sprout-bacon slaw. According to Adam Gertler, the company’s official würschmacher (that’s sausage maker to you and me), the sausage was also inspired by holiday sides including stuffing and the ubiquitous green bean casserole.

Einstein Bros. Bagels:  Gingerbread is one of my favorite seasonal flavors and Einstein Bros. loves it too. Just in time for Christmas, they released the Gingerbread Bagel, featuring the classic spices of your favorite holiday cookie. The Nutcracker bagel also premiers this year. It starts with a French toast bagel, and from there, it’s topped with maple schmear, bacon and walnuts.

Buffalo Wild Wings: though not entirely holiday related I did have to include the new wing flavor from Buffalo Wild Wings.  Mountain Dew flavored wings  were developed in conjunction with the Citrus Bowl which takes place on New Year’s Day. Dressed in Mountain Dew, soy, ginger and red pepper notes, the wings are available starting December 14th. Buffalo Wild Wings flavor combination should be no surprise since they started the Sauce Lab last year as a showcase for new and innovative wing flavors.

Enjoy your holidays and don’t forget to try one of these delicious holiday-inspired treats!

December 10th, 2015

Technology for the R&D Professional

Posted in About Allison, Product Innovation, R&D Technology, Trends

For Research and Development teams, one thing is sure: getting your products to market as quickly as possible is the key to staying ahead of the competition. Today’s technology takes the R&D Development team well beyond Excel spreadsheets, paper forms and disjointed software systems. The future of food product development lies not in fragmented and disconnected programs but rather in a fully functioning solution that integrates all steps of the R&D process while linking it to critical company information.

From prototype development, and formulation, all the way up through taste tests with customizable surveys, online integrated solutions are the wave of the future.

Flavorstudio Suite

One company looking to change how the research and development department works is Senspire, LLC. Started in Palo Alto, California by Gregory Willis, Senspire has developed the Flavorstudio Suite as a powerful workhorse that allows the development chef to accelerate the development life cycle. A truly powerful management tool, the online platform is broken down into 4 distinct modules: Projects, Inspire, Recipes and Taste Tests.

Projects Module

You can create projects, tasks and subtasks with deadlines; assign tasks to team members; add customers; and set project priorities. The repository allows team members to upload or download documents related to the project. You can also send messages to the team through the messages link.

Inspire Module

Here you have the ability to create flavor relationships. Start by searching for an ingredient, in this case, we will use garlic. You can create weak or strong relationships between the ingredient and other ingredients. The database is 1,000,000 items strong, so the combinations are endless. What the Inspire module does well is show the strongest flavor relationships between multiple ingredients, lending ease to the development process, especially in unfamiliar territory. In addition, the Inspire module is where one can create recipes. There is also the ability to share the recipes and scale up the recipes by changing the batch size. Want to know how much the recipe will cost? No problem, there is even a built in yield and cost option.

Recipe Module

The warehouse for all of your company’s recipes. Here you can view your current recipes, share them with colleagues, and even create new versions of the recipe. A tab along the top shows all versions in order so that you can compare changes between versions. And you can add ingredients to a subcategory. For example, let’s say you work for a spice company. To maintain better organization, you can create a subcategory titled “Spice Blends” and then add all of your spice recipes to the subcategory. It is an easy way to ensure consistency and efficiency in the process.

Taste Tests

The last module is designed to help elicit feedback from consumers, whether internal or external. The module allows you to create a taste test, set time and location parameters, add products (from your recipes module) and add tasters. It can even be set up to require a login to do the survey. You can publish the taste test, which links it to a specific project as well, and you can duplicate a taste test for efficiency.

One other part of the software that is an excellent organizing tool is the Admin section. In this section, you can add customer profiles; import recipes and costing; configure the parameters for formulation, ingredients and recipes; and set yields and costs. You can also set parameters for projects in this section, including fields visible in the dashboard.

What makes this online suite so useful above everything else is its accessibility. If you have an internet connection, you have access to the database, making it a truly convenient option.

For a better feel for Flavorstudio capabilities, start a free 7-day trial at

Alpha MOS Electronic Nose

Another challenge to R&D professionals is the matching process. We are often times asked to replicate a product without access to the formula. Relying on the human tongue can be subjective at best. By isolating the volatile chemicals in a sample, devices such as the electronic nose can accelerate the formulation step.

Electronic noses employ gas chromatography to verify chemical makeup as well as olfactometry, which can determine odor and concentration.  The combination of technologies provides a powerful solution to the issue of product consistency as well as robust analysis of product components to make effective formulation revisions.

Alpha MOS specializes in providing top solutions for flavor and order analysis. Want to make sure your products are consistent? Want to crack the code on an elusive flavor note? The Fox electronic nose is easy to use but can break down volatile chemicals and aromas with respect to concentration, origin of products and shelf life.

The model consists of 3 components: the headspace autosampler, the electronic nose unit and the software package.

The headspace autosampler can house up to 96 samples and a large vessel 750mL sampling oven. Sample headspace is generated so that the detection system sensors can identify the volatile chemical present in the sample.

From there, the samples are analyzed by the electronic nose. The Fox model houses up to 18 sensors, allowing for very fast and accurate analysis of bench samples with minimal sample preparation.

The integrated software then takes the data gathered by the electronic nose and generates and output depending on requested criteria.

With all of these features, the Alpha MOS line of products is a formidable development tool, and one you should consider having in your arsenal.

If you are looking for a more entry level model, Alpha MOS also offers an electronic tongue, the Astree. The model allows for a global analysis of compounds in solution. It can determine shelf life as well as offer taste comparisons to other samples. While not as robust as the Fox model, it can provide broad insight into the makeup of a compound mixture.

As you can see, technology advancements can make the development process all that more streamlined, assisting the development team at meeting and beating development timelines.

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