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A Frank New Medium for Ads


There has been a revolutionary breakthrough in the frankfurter world, according to a meat industry publication. A Chicago-based firm has announced that it has developed frankfurter casings that can carry messages, logos or labeling claims. Now link lovers can enjoy advertising or promotion, as well as mustard, on their frankfurters.

Late last month, Viskase Corp. made available the versatile enclosures to meat processors after receiving the required federal approval, Lean Trimmings reports. The newsletter, published by the Western States Meat Assn., stated that only the length of the frankfurter limits the messages or words that can be printed on the tubes.

Advertising-weary consumers can imagine that food companies will rush to get their brand names emblazoned on the franks. But there is also tremendous marketing potential for restaurants, street vendors and sports teams, the newsletter stated. Self-promoters can even order personalized frankfurters: a natural for the various hotel, airline and casino outposts of the Donald Trump empire, for instance.

A Viskase official said that "the (frankfurter) itself can be used as a communications medium. For the first time, selling messages can be communicated to the consumer outside the package--on the grill, on the plate and in the bun."

The casings are being marketed to meat companies as E-Z Mark Nojax, a cellulose enclosure that will transfer any message to the link, according to the trade journal.

The newsletter speculates that manufacturers may specifically target children with the messages in order to "establish brand preference early" in life.

Attention McDonald's--Next Tuesday the Campbell Soup Co. will celebrate the biggest milestone in its history: production of the 20 billionth can of tomato soup. To mark the occasion, the firm plans a soup-sipping celebration in Minneapolis, which leads the nation in soup consumption.

The first can of the distinctive red and white labeled tomato soup was sold in 1897, long before the late Andy Warhol recognized the unique design in his famous painting.

Campbell, in complimenting its own achievement, said that the product's success was due to its "special brand of comfort and warmth."

Getting Fat Out--The California Milk Advisory Board hopes to be as lucky with its new product as Campbell was with tomato soup. The trade group will introduce "Extra Light" milk Monday in supermarkets throughout the state.

The dairy product is meant to appeal to the health-conscious with its 1% milk fat content. The formulation contains 50% less fat than what is now called low-fat milk. However, nonfat milk, at 0.1% fat, remains the leanest dairy beverage available.

Extra Light is being marketed by the board as the "milk of the 1990s." The South San Francisco-based group says it is the first new formulation of milk in 25 years.

The development follows by about one year a recommendation from the California Medical Assn. that the state force dairies to reduce fat levels in milk as a means of reducing saturated fat levels in the diet. The group proposed that low-fat milk contain only 1% fat and that whole milk be reduced to 2% milk fat from its current 3.5% level.

Quick Cooking's Future--As many as 75% of the nation's households are equipped with microwave ovens and the food industry is spending more on research to specially design products for the process, according to an industry trade group.

The Institute of Food Technologists estimates that computers will be incorporated into microwaves, allowing the ovens to be programmed with extensive cookbook-type information.

For instance, such a feature would automatically set the oven to the appropriate power levels and cooking times for a particular food. One such computerized cookbook would be able to determine a product's weight and the amount of moisture in the food and cook accordingly.

The combination microwave-convection oven will also become more commonplace, according to the Chicago-based institute. These appliances offer the best of both worlds in being able to cook foods rapidly and crisp or brown the exterior as well.

Manufacturers are also in the process of redesigning product labels specifically for the microwave. Even those items that prove difficult to microwave--such as meat with internal bones--will carry directions for proper preparation and heating.

Oddly enough, while speed is certainly the primary convenience of the microwave, it still requires almost as much energy to prepare a single meal in these fast cookers as it does to prepare a similar meal on the stove, according to the group.

One example of industry efforts to make microwave labeling more user friendly is a recent project by the Glass Packaging Institute. The Washington-based group announced in 1989 that it has created a new symbol indicating those products packed in glass that are microwaveable as they are.

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