Looking to bring the café experience to American homes, Mason Dixie Foods, Baltimore, has introduced a line of frozen scones to accompany its portfolio of biscuit and sweet roll products.
“Our consumers have always been the driving force behind our innovations,” said Ayeshah Abuelhiga, founder and chief executive officer of Mason Dixie Foods. “Our frozen biscuits were the result of consumers asking for them, and our scones were also prompted by our consumers. So, we met the challenge head-on and are super excited about the new product.”
While Mason Dixie Foods sells frozen baked foods in supermarkets across the United States, it was born from Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., a restaurant started by Ms. Abuelhiga in 2014 that also serves as a testing ground for new products.
“If people are willing to buy the products in a restaurant setting, they are ready for commercialization,” Ms. Abuelhiga said.
While developing the scones, Mason Dixie prioritized taste and convenience. The company surveyed its customers via email and asked them to rank their favorite flavors to determine which would be included in the line. Overall, there were about 10 varieties people consistently requested, and the bakery selected the top four — blueberry, cranberry orange, chocolate chip and coffee cake — to bring to market.
Maintaining a clean label was also important for the brand.
“We don’t use gums, stabilizers or even ‘natural’ flavorings, because we believe the ingredients themselves should do the talking,” Ms. Abuelhiga explained.
To give consumers a coffeehouse pastry without the hassle of having to leave their home, Mason Dixie kept prep time for the product to a minimum.
“We wanted to provide the allure of having items bake-at-home ready without the prep or the threat of getting a day-old, stale or slacked out pastry from a café display case,” Ms. Abuelhiga said. “We made sure that cooking is one step — from freezer to oven — just like the biscuits.”
Convenience isn’t only for consumers, though. To produce the new line, Mason Dixie didn’t have to invest in any new equipment because the scones have the same base dough as the company’s biscuits and sweet rolls.
Like many other up-and-coming food companies, Mason Dixie intended to debut the new product in March at Expo West in Anaheim, Calif., and roll it out across the country this spring, but that plan was upended by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The scones are now set to hit shelves this summer for a suggested retail price of $4.99 to $5.99 per 4-count package, and Ms. Abuelhiga is optimistic about the product’s potential to reshape the frozen bakery aisle.
“We want to make our mark and expand people’s thoughts on what frozen breakfast can be beyond waffles and toaster strudel,” Ms. Abuelhiga said. “We want to make them available for Americans to experience fresh for the first time and in the comfort of their own homes, not in a car or on foot running to the office.”