The latest self-help cause among consumers is a bit fishy.
Call it the food mood movement. It's been brewing for years now, and reached its peak about a month ago when the headlines broke on yet another study proving omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) fight depression.
Now psychiatrists are prescribing fatty acids instead of Prozac to their patients.
To some, religion seems out of place in the Pledge of Allegiance. Others are trying to push it onto consumers' plates.
Consider this new crop of "Bible foods":
A company called House of David Foods is marketing a Bible Bar and Bible Granola. Both are said to have "nutritional and spiritual" value and include the seven foods of Deuteronomy - wheat, barley, raisins, honey, figs, olive oil and pomegranates. The products are sold in some 2500 stores nationwide, including religious shops and bookstores.
Can the color of your product make or break it?
It may seem preposterous until you consider purple ketchup and pink margarine.
Or Kool-Aid's Magic Twists, the drink mix that changes colors when prepared. Magic Twist's newest entry -- Switchin' Secret -- goes even further. It's an orange powder that turns into a secret color and flavor.
We've seen Asian fusion restaurants opening up almost as fast as Starbucks chains, and now it seems they have spawned the newest, hottest ethnic-dishes-to-go-mainstream.
The first is pho (pronounced fu). This Vietnamese noodle soup with beef is sweeping through the U.S. like a monsoon. We're finding it in restaurants all over the place, and even on college cafeteria menus. Soon, Seattle's Associated Grocers will begin distributing a line of instant pho noodles and jars of concentrated pho broth paste.
Airline food may have been much maligned, but now that it has virtually disappeared from all but a few flights, consumers are feeling the void.
In sweeps the hotel industry. Many high-end hotels, like the Four Seasons Palm Beach and some Marriott chains, are offering "Airline to Go" meals. Essentially room service packed up and ready to fly, the meals are being pushed hard to today's hungry, harried traveler.
The strangest things are popping up in vending machines these days.
Visit a United Artists movie theatre in Manhattan and you can get hot buttered popcorn, chilled M&Ms and even "oven-baked" Tombstone pizza from a machine, rather than the candy counter. The New Museum of Contemporary Art, also in New York, has a vending machine that dispenses original works of art. Though very small, they're also very affordable at $5 a pop.
Think you received (or at least heard about) every new gadget and tech toy over the holidays?
Many consumers in the Gen X and younger range don't have the time or the know-how to cook. For them, Martha Stewart is beyond aspirational.
Enter Donna Hay - domestic goddess for a new generation, the Microwave Generation. Hay teaches a relaxed approach to cooking. Her books include 'New Food Fast,' in which recipes are classified according to cooking time (none more than 30-minutes) and more recently, 'Off the Shelf,' which advises on how to stock a pantry and then combine fresh ingredients with pantry staples for fast, delicious meals.
Being able to replicate nearly any product or object you imagine...sounds very "Star Trek" doesn't it?
Well, now consumers can do just that...create a customized toy, replicate game pieces, even design personalized action figures...through the website ToyBuilders.com.
It used to be that consumers wanted what they couldn't afford. Now, it's clear they want what they can't have. Or at least what's very hard to get.
Nowhere is there a better example of this than in fashion. Recently, we traveled to Japan, the home of some of the globe's most inspired street fashions. It didn't take long for us to figure out that the more underground the "look," the more in demand it was for Tokyo's uber-hipsters.