business news in context, analysis with attitude

I love it when companies try something different…and when they try to get me, as a consumer, to do the same thing.

Such is the case with the folks at Kettle Chips, who currently are selling a sampler pack of five limited edition all-natural chips on their website. The idea is that they want to get people to taste five outrageous new flavors, and then offer comments on the company’s website…with just one of the new flavors becoming part of the regular line.

From my perspective, it makes a lot of sense to get customers involved in the product selection process. It makes them feel like part of the company; I’ve been wearing New Balance sneakers exclusively for more than a decade, in part because I’m part of the company’s wear tester club and consistently get new sneakers to wear and critique. (I also wear NB, of course, because I have an EEEE foot…but I think I’d also wear them if I had a nice average-sized shoe size.) There’s nothing like giving consumers a voice…and it is something that more retailers and manufacturers ought to try.

When I called the folks at Kettle to ask about this program, they were nice enough to send me a box of chips to test, and I have to say I loved them all – Aztec Chocolate, Island Jerk, Twisted Chili Lime, Royal Indian Curry, and Dragon 5 Spice. Wow! Pushed to make a choice, I’d probably have to pick either the Twisted Chili Lime or the Royal Indian Curry…but it’d be tough.

Got a book for you to read – “Life Is Meals: A Food Lover’s Book Of Days,” by James & Kay Salter. It is a neat book of anecdotes, one for each day of the year, related to their lives, the foods they’ve eaten, the wines they’ve loved, and the friends and family they’ve entertained. There is an old world quality to it, and that’s one of the things I loved about the book – the sense of food and wine as celebration, and that the kitchen and the dining room table are the most important rooms of the house.

And here is an irony I loved. I went to check out what subject they’d written about for my birthday, November 4 – and it was a discussion of risotto, which is only my favorite dish on the planet.

Coincidence? I think not.

Sunday night, January 14.

Nine days from now.

“24” returns.

Need I say more?


Take your kids to see “Night At The Museum,” the new Ben Stiller comedy about a night guard at a museum where all the exhibits come to life at night. It’s a special effects comedy that is somewhat reminiscent of “Ghostbusters” (though not as funny). Still, it is the kind of movie a family can go to – kids will love it, and it has enough to keep parents diverted – including Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt, Ricky Gervais as a snippy museum administrator, and the always lovely Carla Gugino as a skeptical researcher. And watch for Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney in pivotal roles, showing that there is plenty of life left in these old pros.

I have to admit to being less thrilled with “Dreamgirls” than a lot of the critics. It was good, with especially strong performances by Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, and especially Jennifer Hudson. I think it may have been the ending, which just felt at odds with the rest of the movie, like the filmmakers lost their nerve a little bit. (I won’t be more specific because I hate it when people ruin the end of the movie.) And when they lost their nerve, they lost me.

Just to start the New Year off right, I can wholeheartedly recommend to you the 2002 Meritage – deep, rich and intense - from Mosaic Vineyards in California’s Alexander Valley. Now, to be honest, this wine is a little pricey – I paid about $40 for the bottle, which we enjoyed with good friends on New Year’s Eve. But it was worth every penny – one of the best bottles of wine I’ve ever had.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday morning.

KC's View: