Hot for hatch

by Ryan Atkinson
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With consumer palates continuing to expand, distinctive and flavorful ingredients become even more important in the development of new products. For Salem Baking Co., Winston-Salem, NC, the Hatch pepper is just the kind of ingredient to attract new snackers.

Salem recently introduced its Hatch Pepper Collection, a line of Cheese Straws, Artisan Crackers and Thin & Crispy Cookies made with the Hatch chile.

“Our chefs used the Hatch pepper to add a Southwestern flair to our classic recipes,” said Brooke Smith, president of Salem Baking. “It offers customers and retail partners an innovative, limited-edition offering that celebrates Hatch season.”

The Hatch pepper was developed by horticulturist Dr. Fabian Garcia in 1888 at New Mexico State University. In the years since, generation after generation of Hatch Valley growers cultivated the pepper, harvested during the late summer months. That limited availably makes the Hatch pepper beloved by locals. Because of this, Salem Baking originally targeted consumers in the Southwest who know and love the pepper.

“With the growing demand and popularity of the items, we have now expanded distribution to customers throughout the US, serving consumers who are passionate about food and love to try new things,” Ms. Smith said.

The Hatch Pepper Collection was featured at the Winter Fancy Food Show in January and will make an appearance at the summer show in New York. That, combined with a successful run and positive feedback last year, gives Salem Baking reason to believe this year’s line will sell out.

All of the line’s products carry a suggested retail price of $4.99 — the 7-oz boxes of Delightfully Thin & Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies and the 4.5-oz boxes of Cheese Straws and Artisan Crackers. They are available for a limited time, starting in August.

“Today’s consumers are quick to embrace new, unique flavors as they grow more familiar with international fare and flavors,” Ms. Smith said. “Spicy snacks in our product portfolio continue to gain popularity and appeal among our customers.”

Salem Baking matches the spice of the Hatch pepper with a sweet blend of milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips in its cookies.

“We love the idea of combining sweet and spicy flavors, and our chefs were seeking a unique pepper with a special heritage,” Ms. Smith said. “We only bake our Hatch pepper cookies and crackers during the pepper’s harvest season to ensure the highest quality and freshest products. They are baked with simple and premium ingredients, with no preservatives or artificial flavors.”

The crackers are made with cheddar cheese and pair well with dips and spreads while the cheese straws are baked with extra-sharp aged cheddar, finely milled wheat flour and creamy butter to accent the pepper’s flavor.

“Most of all, they deliver on delicious, one-of-a-kind taste every time,” Ms. Smith said.

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