A new twist on toaster snacks features this week, as Gama considers the latest innovation in the cheese and hot snacks categories – Alpenhain Toastertaler Grilled Cheese Snacks.
Launched by Alpenhain in Germany, Alpenhain Toastertaler are an unusual addition to the hot snacks landscape. Sold frozen, the square-shaped “blocks” of cheese are designed to be cooked directly in the toaster, without the need for baking paper or any other preparation. Somewhat counter-intuitively for a product that contains cheese ingredients including emmental and mozzarella, the product retains its shape as it is heated, with the outside grilled to a golden brown. Once cooked, Toastertaler can be eaten as a snack in their own right or used in a varied range of dishes, according to Alpenhain.
Despite the evident convenience benefits, toaster snacks such as Alpenhain’s Toastertaler have remained a relatively small niche within the overall hot snacks category. Even in the US – where toaster snacks are particularly associated with toaster pastries, a category dominated by Kellogg’s $400 million per year Pop-Tarts brand – toaster snacks have not readily established themselves as serious competitors to more conventional microwave meals and snacks.
In Europe, however, recent signs are that toaster snacks could well enjoy a new wave of popularity. In 2010, Tillman’s, a meat and snack producer, gambled on the launch of Toaster Burgers, a product which allowed consumers to “grill” a burger directly in the toaster. Success in Germany enabled the company to expand to the UK with the launch of the Toast Up! Brand, and since then Tillmann’s has developed the concept further in its home market, launching new brands including Toasty and Steaky.
The success of Tillman’s product range – and the launch of Alpenhain Toastertaler – point to renewed interest in toaster cooking, particularly the twin benefits of convenience and, unlike microwave cooking, a form of “grilling” using direct heat . Leveraging these benefits through creative innovation could be a profitable path for manufacturers looking to drive growth for their brands in the hot snacks category.