Hint of... A Slightly Sweeter Future?

In the late 1990s Frito-Lay widely introduced the concept of marketing just a little bit of a flavor in the packaged foods space – with the Tostitos: Hint of Lime extension.  Perhaps they felt it was too much of a leap for the customer to imagine eating a “Lime Flavored” chip, so they did a little copy tweaking.

Lately I’ve noticed that there are more flavor “suggestions” than I originally realized.  Ritz Crackers has a “Hint of Salt” offering.  This is quite significant, as ordinarily this Ritz version would be labeled "Low in Sodium" - one of the least fun food identifications available to a marketer.  Instead, this name confers the idea that the Ritz scientists sprinkled salt onto crackers enough times that they eventually determined just the right amount of salt needed to replicate the Ritz experience for high blood pressure sufferers.  There's a certain considerate charm to the name.

Just as importantly, we should note the widespread success (and subsequent Coca-Cola buyout) of Honest Tea.  The iced tea category had always been missing a wide-open opportunity.  It wasn't until the mid-to-late 2000s, when Seth Goldman’s company (est. 1998) gained wider distro, that he was able to fully provide a unique answer to the omnipresence of 30g of sugar per serving canned/bottled iced tea.  Why not add just a hint of sugar or honey and change the product entirely from a quasi-soda into a health food?  Honest Tea calls itself “just a tad sweet”.

I really shudder when I think about how many cans of Cool Nestea I drank in the mid-90s, just not knowing what iced tea was truly capable of.

Is it possible that this “hint of” trend has greater potential?  What if certain foods were developed and labeled not as diet/lite/zero/free, but rather as slightly fatty/chocolatey/sweet?  


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