Artists, movies, technologies, and even video gamers are recognized each year as part of annual award shows and programs. High performers are singled out and nominated, and every year a select few are presented with special acknowledgment and prizes for their accomplishments.
We believe that groceries should be given the same platform and chance to share their success. These products are truly the backbone of our society—let's face it, we all have to eat—and the grocery world is filled with just as much ingenuity as any other industry. Food and beverage companies are constantly reinventing the food wheel—a process that drives tremendous amounts of excitement and anticipation for what's to come.
Who doesn't experience a bit of a thrill when a new flavor of soda hits the market? Or, when a new company storms onto the grocery scene promising to deliver food unlike anything you've ever seen before.
Both scenarios—as well as many, many more—have taken place this year. We've been introduced to product after product, and some stand out for their brilliance, inventiveness, or just plain deliciousness.
So, here it is. Our version of the 2023 grocery awards for the best new foods and beverages discovered this year—a sort of who's who of the supermarket, if you will. Queue the drumroll and rounds of applause.
Rao's Vodka Arrabbiata Sauce
Rao's is a top pasta sauce choice for chefs and at-home cooks alike. In 2023, the brand was busy in the kitchen, cooking up even more premium recipes to love. In a first wave of product releases in June, Rao's debuted two new soups, and not one, not two, but three new sauces. Among them, the Vodka Arrabbiata caught the eye of consumers. The spicy sauce is a blend of tomatoes, olive oil, onions, red pepper, and both Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino Romano cheeses. Initial reviews say it's just as good as, if not better than, the brand's classic marinara and original vodka sauce. That feat in and of itself deserves a resounding bravo, Rao's.
For even more Italian-inspired flavors, you can also check out Rao's line of ketchup released this year. It includes roma tomato, arrabbiata, and truffle varieties.
BetterBrand Better Bun
The BetterBrand Better Bun (try saying that five times fast) hit shelves this summer in three different flavors: pretzel, sesame, and brioche. Just like the brand's other products—the Better Bagel that started it all and the Better Roll—these buns are plant-based with fewer carbs, more protein, and no added sugars. The company is reimagining the way we think about carb-heavy foods, and they may have just changed the way we eat burgers and sandwiches forever. You can grab them for yourself at a Thrive Market location or online through the BetterBrand website. Pro tip: Don't forget to store them in your fridge!
ONE Coffee Shop Protein Bars
Have you heard the buzz? ONE Brands gave its consumer base a major energy boost this year with a line of protein bars that are also caffeinated. Each ONE Coffee Shop bar contains 20 grams of protein and 65 mg of caffeine, about the same as a shot of espresso. They come in either vanilla latte or caramel macchiato, the two most popular coffee flavors, and according to ONE Brand General Manager Eric Clawson, they are "made with [ONE Brand's] energy seeking coffee lovers top of mind."
MìLà Soup Dumplings
There's just something about soup dumplings that's so comforting and good for the soul. But, it's also a food that has historically been difficult to get right in frozen form … that is, until now. MìLà's Soup Dumplings hit the market in 2023. You may recognize the brand's memorable packaging, which features a dumpling hot air balloon taking off. These Chinese dumplings come in flavors of classic pork, shrimp and pork, savory chicken, and creamy corn soup with chicken, all of which are wrapped in the brand's five-star rated xiao long bao.
The dumplings have received rave ratings, often referred to as the "best frozen soup dumplings," "moist and flavorful," and some even say they compete with a dish you would find at a reputable restaurant. Find them at Target, Costco, and Sprouts.
Olipop Ginger Ale
Olipop added a new pastel-colored can to its lineup this year, and I've gathered from multiple reliable sources (aka friends and family) that it's the brand's best product to date. The latest prebiotic soda on the market is Ginger Ale, but this isn't the same ginger-based drink that your grandparents grew up with. No, Olipop takes everything you love about classic ginger ale and gives it new life with a "modern, elevated twist and a refreshingly sweet, mildly spiced flavor."
Find it on the shelf next to Olipop's other standout flavors including vintage cola and cream soda at stores like Target, Kroger, and Whole Foods.
Plant-based meats have been a massive trend this year. And, while chicken has certainly come first in the category—made by brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible–we've finally been given a plant-based egg as well. WunderEggs was launched at Whole Foods Markets nationwide in January. The vegan hard-boiled eggs are coconut milk and nut-based and get their protein from potatoes. Consumers say the texture and taste are just like the real thing and are egg-static to have another innovative vegan protein option on the market.
Trader Joe's Mini (Almost) Everything Bagel Sandwich Crackers
Capitalizing on the success of Trader Joe's famed Everything But the Bagel Seasoning, this snack all but broke the internet with its arrival back in May. The sandwich crackers are dressed up to look exactly like a minuscule bagel with schmear, even down to the microscopic hole in the middle. They are adorable no matter how you slice them, and according to customers, they are also just as tasty. One shopper on Instagram describes them as "Perfect little nibbles." Another admitted to eating a whole box in one day before going back for more.
Blue Diamond Thin Dipped Almonds
Elote Mexican street corn, Korean BBQ, blueberry, and even Carolina reaper are just a taste of the diverse flavor selection of Blue Diamond. But, this year, consumers were going nuts specifically for the brand's new chocolatey Thin Dipped Almonds—an entirely new kind of flavor sensation. Two variations are available including a twice-dipped double dark chocolate and dark chocolate sea salt caramel, and they both have nearly perfect ratings on the company website. One review in particular reads, "Wow, these are my new favorite treat!! Do they come in a bigger bag???? Crunch, crunch …"
La Terra Fina Jalapeño Pepper-Jelly Dip & Spread
The La Terra Fina brand never misses. It always seems to deliver one delicious, crave-able dip after the next. A few flavors that recently hit the market for the first time include dill pickle, caramelized onion with roasted garlic, a dessert dip of chocolate with chocolate chips, and a jalapeño hot pepper jelly dip. All are noteworthy. But, only one earned a spot as one of Progressive Grocer's 2023 Editor Pick's Best New Products. Spoiler alert: It was the latter. The dip is Asian-American-inspired and is a sweet yet spicy mix of cream cheese, mild jalapeños, and tart cherries. Find it at stores like Kroger, Market Basket, and Meijer.
SimplyV Plant-Based Cream Cheese
I am not lactose intolerant, and I am somewhat of a dairy-product fiend. However, I recently tried the SimplyV cream cheese on behalf of a friend who does happen to be dairy-free, and I was flabbergasted by how good it is. The brand is European but brought its cream cheese stateside this year. Instead of milk and cream, the product is made with almonds, coconut oil, and other flavorings. It somehow ends up tasting even creamier and smoother than normal cream cheese. Along with the original—which also happens to be perfect for baking—it comes in strawberry and onion and chive flavors as well.
Wendy's Canned Chili
Wendy's made history this year by entering the grocery sector for the first time, and it's not burgers it's slinging. That's right, the fast food chain is now officially selling its famous chili in cans for consumers to enjoy whenever and wherever they please. The company says the product is "inspired by Wendy's chili recipe" with "hearty seasoned beef, tender peppers, chili beans, and savory spices." It's priced at $4.99 for a 15-ounce can.
While this is new territory for Wendy's, there are plenty of other restaurants that have paved the way with their retail lines. Bob Evans breakfast items and sides, Red Lobster's biscuit mixes, and Olive Garden dressings are just a few that come to mind. And, we'll certainly be cheering the burger joint on as it embarks on this new endeavor.
Nature's Premium Fruit Pearls
These Nature's Premium Fruit Pearls started rolling out to grocery store shelves earlier this year. They are essentially the healthier, grown-up version of Dippin' Dots and are cryogenically frozen in the same way. You had me at Dippin' Dots. Each tiny sphere is made up of real fruit juice with no artificial sweeteners or corn syrup—the perfect dairy-free and guilt-free snack for any time of day. Available flavors include strawberry banana, strawberry and cream, wildberry, orange and cream, and lemon and cream. They are currently offered in boxes of four 2.3-ounce cups, but more size options are in the works for 2024.
Hidden Valley Pickle Flavored Ranch
Pickle-flavored products have been all the rage in 2023, and this specific product mashup is a pretty big dill. Hidden Valley's new Pickle Flavored Ranch is every Midwesterner's dream (as a Midwesterner, I would know). It adds the perfect amount of extra zest to salads, sandwiches, fries–essentially anything. Reviewers on the company's website found the ranch to be dill-lightful. One comment in particular read, "THIS is soooo good! If you love pickles and you love ranch – don't think, just buy!" You don't have to tell us twice.
Reese's Dipped Animal Crackers
We know you're not supposed to play with your food, but these new wild treats from Reese's make it so tempting. The snack is essentially animal crackers—in 13 different species—coated with peanut butter candy and dunked in milk chocolate. They were spotted roaming Costco earlier this year, and members were smitten with their charm. If you're on the hunt for a bag, the crackers can now be found at most retailers including Target, Kroger, Walmart, and Amazon.
Blue Bunny Soft Ice Cream
If you're like me and have a soft spot for ice cream, we have good news for you. One of the most respected names in frozen treats, Blue Bunny, is now serving up a new kind of ice cream. It's soft serve, but instead of getting it from a local ice cream shop, you can store it in your freezer. The scoopable ice cream was originally introduced in five different flavors: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, mint chocolate chip, and cookies and cream. Frosted sugar cookie was also added ahead of the holiday season. All of the tubs have generated positive reviews thus far, but chocolate appears to be leading the pack in terms of favorability with a 4.8 out of 5-star rating on the Blue Bunny website.
Omsom Saucy Noodles
Watch out Maruchan, Omsom is gunning for your business with an elevated version of instant noodles. The woman-owned brand—previously focused on Asian-style sauces—turned up the heat this summer with the launch of its Saucy Noodles in Whole Foods locations nationwide. They come doused in soy garlic, garlic black pepper, chili sesame, or coconut lemongrass curry sauce, and each one is oh-so-slurpable. But, don't just take our word for it. Real-life consumers say the noods are "fast, fun, and delicious," the "perfect meal," and even "picky teen approved."
Sweet Dreams Cereal
Enjoying a bowl or two of cereal before bed is now considered cool thanks to Post Consumer Brands. Back in February, the company launched Sweet Dreams, the very first cereal that is meant to be eaten at night to promote better sleep. To transform a typical morning meal into a nighttime remedy, Post sprinkles in a few extra ingredients among the whole grains like an herbal blend of lavender and chamomile, plus zinc, folic acid, and B vitamins that support natural melatonin production.
If you habitually have trouble getting those zzz's, don't sleep on this new product. You can get it in two flavors—Blueberry Midnight and Honey Moonglow—at grocery stores nationwide.
Milk Bar Crunchies
Is Milk Bar hiding something highly addictive in its treats? It sure seems that way. One bite of the brand's Confetti Cookie, and I was immediately hooked. Given that experience, I have full trust that this latest invention will not disappoint. The brand-new Milk Bar Crunchies are tiny, bite-sized cookies that remind me of a superior Cookie Crisp cereal, but in more out-of-the-box flavors. The current selection includes Pretzel-y Chocolate Chip, Vanilla Butter Crunch, Cinnamon Toast, Brown Butter Chocolate Chip, and the two obligatory holiday options Candy Cane Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Snowball dusted in powdered sugar.
Zoup! Good, Really Good Soups—New Flavors
The Zoup! chain is a great example of an eatery introducing its foods to the retail world. The company started selling its broth in 2020. A couple of years later, it began ladling its specialty soups into jars to sell at supermarkets. Five soup flavors including Chicken & Riced Cauliflower, Spicy Chicken 'Chilada, Butternut Squash with Brown Butter and Sage, Tomato Bisque, and Garden Vegetable were the chosen ones for the initial rollout. But, 2023 brought an additional four soups to the table: chicken potpie, portabella mushroom bisque, black bean chili, and a gourmet take on chicken noodle. The brand gives store-bought soup a whole new meaning, and you'll want to grab a spoon to experience it for yourself.
Hellman's Garlic Aioli Dip and Spread
Garlic aioli may be one of the best food inventions of all time—a true culinary masterpiece. It accompanies burgers, sandwiches, fries, and more at both classy and more casual dining establishments. Now you can enjoy all that garlicky goodness at home with Hellman's latest spread. It's made with real roasted garlic, is 100 percent vegan and gluten-free, and comes in a convenient squeezable bottle. Reviews say it's "rich and tangy" with a "velvety smoothness." It's earned the stamp of approval from self-proclaimed garlic-holics, too.
Peanut Butter M&M's Minis
It may be an unpopular opinion, but I tend to think M&M's taste the best in mini form. Maybe it's the novelty of getting to shake them into your mouth from the tube or the cuteness of their size. Either way, I was beyond excited about the launch of Peanut Butter Minis in September. This is M&M's second mini-product, and I found them to be just as satisfying as the originals. They provide the slightest bit of smooth peanut butter and are also perfect for baking. I will be whipping up some cookies with them for the holidays.
Sweet Loren's Breakfast Biscuits
From humble beginnings in 2009, Sweet Loren's has become a force in the dessert aisle with its line of dairy-free and gluten-free cookie doughs. In 2023, the brand baked up a sweet surprise for its customers. Sweet Loren's officially threw its hat in the breakfast ring this year with the launch of its Chocolate, Cinnamon Sugar, and Blueberry Breakfast Biscuits. Just like the brand's cookie dough, these breakfast biscuits are crafted with "only clean ingredients" that are plant-based. They are shelf-stable–perfect to have on hand at home or on the go. They couldn't have come at a better time either, introduced right as another popular health-conscious brand Enjoy Life retired all of its baked goods including its Breakfast Ovals and other snack bars.
Liquid Death Iced Teas
Liquid Death has been murdering consumers' thirst since 2019. It has done so using water and sparkling water as its weapons of choice. In 2023, the brand began to spill over into another beverage category. In March, Liquid Death announced the launch of three canned iced teas, each with its unique flavor profile and clever death-inspired name. Rest in Peach offers a self-explanatory taste. Dead Billionaire (previously named Armless Palmer before an unnamed company threatened to sue for use of the name) combines half tea and half lemonade. And, Grim Leafer is a classic black tea. One consumer found the latter to be so good, that he wrote, "I'd sell my soul for it over and over again" in his review on the product page.
Goodles Boxed Pasta
With a name like Goodles, it has to be good. The brand—which was cocreated by actress Gal Gadot (cool right?)–first proved this with its better-for-you boxed mac and cheese. And, in 2023 it wowed foodies yet again with a line of nutrient-packed boxed pasta noodles. Lucky Penne, Loopdy-Loos (a more amusing name for cavatappi), and Curveballs (aka pipette noodles) are all now up for grabs at Target and Whole Foods. They are made with key ingredients like semolina, wheat flour, and chickpea protein and are currently batting a thousand with customers. One reviewer on the Goodles website writes of the penne, "The texture is perfect, the chew is perfect. So good."
Jeni's Biscuits with the Boss Ice Cream
Jeni's, which started out of Columbus, Ohio, has always had a special place in my heart as a born and bred Ohioan. But, my love for the shop grew even stronger this year when it debuted this artisanal ice cream flavor inspired by the feel-good show "Ted Lasso." Meant to imitate the biscuits Ted bakes for his boss Rebecca in the show every day, this pint includes homemade shortbread, buttery cream, and flaky sea salt. And, you better believe it's as good as it sounds. The ice cream was released days ahead of the show's season three premiere and was yet another one of Jeni's successful collaborations.