August 20, 2008

Table Talk New Products, Great Ideas


Lick a pop, and you could finish on top

Here's a contest you can wrap your tongue around.

Tootsie Roll Industries is looking to America to solve the mystery of how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Really.

The online "How Many Licks" contest carries a $50,000 prize, and you don't even have to guess a "correct" answer to win.

A $50,000 check will be paid to the winner whose entry is drawn at random at the end of the 12-month sweepstakes. A bonus $5,000 check will be paid to the grand-prize winner if the guess falls within 3% (plus or minus) of the average number of licks calculated from all guesses.

Monthly random drawings will award other entrants with 27 pounds of assorted Tootsie candy.

A complete set of rules, hints and prize information is available at The sweepstakes runs through July 31, 2009.

The new food network

Social networking about food is nothing new -- it's been going on since recipes were first swapped. But the Internet has revolutionized the practice.

Now, a recipe swap site launched two years ago, is promoting a new food mentor program site organizers say makes it easy for cooking and baking enthusiasts to help one another improve their skills.

Home cooks with knowledge to share can create a mentor profile tagged to specific types of foods or cooking techniques. When members browse BakeSpace's database of member-submitted recipes and find one they like, they also find a list of related tips and mentors interested in sharing advice and encouragement. They then can send e-mail directly to the mentor or invite a mentor to join their network of friends.

Allergen-tested treats for kids

A new line of organic, ready-to-eat baked whole-grain snacks designed for kids is being rolled out as kids return to school.

Home Free treats include chocolate chip cookies, brownie chip cookies, apple coffeecake and cranberry coffeecake -- all free of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and dairy.

Each whole-grain cookie contains at least a half serving of whole grain. The line is baked and packaged in its own bakery and is allergen tested and certified organic.

Jill Robbins, a clinical psychologist and author of "Allergen Free Baking," founded the line after her son was diagnosed with severe food allergies. The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, a national advocacy group, estimates that food allergies affect 2.2 million school-age children.

The cookies are available for $5.49 per box through the Web site,

-- Karen Herzog

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