The total package
Nutrition and whimsy combine in Hi I'm Skinny Sticks from Cornfields, Inc.
BakingBusiness.com, June 1, 2012
by Lucy Sutton

Few consumers break up with their snacks over personality, but a new snack on the market aims for a lasting relationship. Hi I'm Skinny Sticks from Cornfields, Inc., Waukegan, IL, offer whole-grain nutrition, zesty flavor and a fun-loving attitude.

"My family has been in the snack food business for more than 127 years, and Cornfields is immersed in the industry," said Claire Cretors, president of Cornfields, a private label manufacturer of better-for-you snacks. "We have the advantage of being very close to snack trends, what works and what doesn’t, and we saw an opportunity to incorporate real nutritional value into a snack while maintaining a fun image."

That fun image comes across on the products' packaging, website and introductory press release, which called the flavor lineup "phat." The Veggie Tortilla package proclaims, "I'm the real thing," and the Multigrain Sweet Onion, "I'm a sweetie!" The other flavors — Multigrain Tangy BBQ, Multigrain Sea Salt, Sweet Potato and Multigrain Cheddar — are a little more reserved, but all bags carry statements of "All Natural," "Up to 40% less fat than regular potato chips," and "I'm super low in calories but super high in taste!" The calorie count per 28-g serving is between 120 and 130 Cal, depending on the variety.

The team at Cornfields came up with the initial flavor lineup through informal tests among friends and family, including Ms. Cretors' "always honest" 8-year-old twin nephews. "We knew we wanted to keep our flavors approachable — no 'garlic rosemary goat cheese,' although that sounds kind of good," she said. "Sea salt was easy, then barbecue, then cheddar. However, we wanted to make sure it was the best barbecue and the best cheddar."

Besides bold flavors, Hi I'm Skinny Sticks aim to woo consumers with their whole grain content. The snacks' website, www.hiimskinny.com, quotes the Whole Grain Council's report that some studies show risks of many chronic diseases can be reduced by eating as little as one serving, 16 g, of whole grains daily. "Hi I'm Skinny Salted Multigrain sticks have 17 g," the website says. "That was easy!"

The snacks are kosher-certified and made without genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a claim the company is working to certify with the Non-GMO Project. All current varieties except Multigrain Cheddar are also vegan.

With its marketing strategy, the company targets two kinds of snackers, those it calls the "Smart Snacker" and the "Taste Sensation Seeker." "The Smart Snacker is someone who really reads the nutritional label and is looking for specific attributes — whole grains, certain sodium levels, unrefined sugar," Ms. Cretors explained. "The Taste Sensation Seeker is not willing to sacrifice taste. The result is a consumer who is smart about nutrition but isn’t going to sacrifice good flavor for it."

Hi I'm Skinny Sticks are available nationwide for $3.99 per 7-oz package, and Cornfields is working on 100-Cal packs of a few flavors for the future.

Ms. Cretors said she expects great things from this line. "There are a lot of snacks out there that are fun and taste good but do not actually deliver any nutritional value," she said. "Ours do."

As the snacks themselves would say, "Yay!"