Title:
Kit and method for providing a freshly ground flavoring to food products
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention generally relates to providing a freshly ground flavoring to shelf-stable ready-to-eat food products. In one aspect, a flavoring pellet is ground into a particulate flavoring and applied to a food product to freshly season the food product. The food product can optionally be heated before or after the flavoring is applied. In one aspect, a kit for providing a freshly ground flavoring to a food product is disclosed.



Inventors:
Ardisson-korat, Andres Victor (Plano, TX, US)
Henson, James Keith (Richardson, TX, US)
Reeves, Tyler Douglas (McKinney, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/250590
Publication Date:
04/19/2007
Filing Date:
10/14/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A23L27/00; B65D81/32; A23L27/10
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
YOO, HONG THI
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CARSTENS & CAHOON, LLP (DALLAS, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for providing a freshly ground flavoring to a food product, said method comprising the steps of: a) providing a shelf-stable flavoring pellet; b) converting said flavoring pellet temporally coincident with or after a point of sale into a smaller pellet fragment; and c) applying said smaller pellet fragment to a shelf-stable and ready-to-eat food product.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein said food product is heated prior to step c) of applying said particulate flavoring to said food product.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein said flavoring pellet at step a) comprises a plurality of first pellets having a first flavor and wherein step a) further comprises providing one or more unpelletized flavors.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein said flavoring pellets have one or more substantially similar physical characteristics selected from size, shape, and color.

5. The method of claim 1 further comprising an unpelletized flavor having one or more substantially similar physical characteristics selected from size, shape, and color.

6. The method of claim 1 wherein said flavoring pellets provided at step a) comprises a plurality of first pellets having a first flavor and a plurality of second pellets having a second flavor.

7. The method of claim 6 wherein said first pellets have one or more substantially similar physical characteristics selected from size, shape, and color.

8. The method of claim 6 wherein said second pellets have one or more substantially similar physical characteristics selected from size, shape, and color.

9. The method of claim 1 wherein said point of sale is a convenience store.

10. The method of claim 1 wherein said point of sale is a grocery store.

11. The method of claim 1 wherein said point of sale is a restaurant.

12. The method of claim 1 wherein said point of sale is a concession stand.

13. The method of claim 1 wherein said point of sale is a kiosk.

14. The method of claim 1 wherein said food product is pre-flavored.

15. The method of claim 1 wherein said food product is selected from one or more savory snack foods selected from potato chips, tortilla chips, and corn chips.

16. The method of claim 1 wherein said food product is selected from one or more savory snack foods selected from nut-based chips, puffed snacks, rice snacks, rice cakes, nuts, pretzels, protein-based snacks, and crackers.

17. The method of claim 1 wherein said food product is selected from one or more sweet snack foods selected from breakfast cereals, granola bars, confection bars, dried fruits, and cookies.

18. The method in claim 1 wherein said food product is selected from breadsticks, vegetables, popped popcorn, and nuts.

19. The method of claim 1 wherein said flavoring pellet at step a) is provided in a grinder.

20. The method of claim 1 wherein said converting at step b) is provided without a grinder.

21. The method of claim 1 wherein said food product at step c) comprises a low-moisture food product.

22. A kit for providing a freshly ground flavoring a food product, said kit comprising: a) a shelf-stable flavoring pellet; b) a packaged food product, wherein said food product is shelf-stable and ready to eat, wherein said packaged food product is in close proximity to said pellet.

23. The kit of claim 22 further comprising a grinder.

24. The kit of claim 22 further comprising a grater.

25. The kit of claim 22 wherein said packaged food product and said flavoring pellet are packaged together.

26. The kit of claim 22 wherein said packaged food product and said flavoring pellet are packaged separately.

27. The kit of claim 22 wherein said flavoring pellets are packaged in a variety-pack.

28. The kit of claim 22 wherein said packaged food product is pre-flavored.

29. The kit of claim 22 wherein said flavoring pellet comprises a plurality of pellets having a first flavor and further comprises providing one or more unpelletized flavors.

30. The kit of claim 29 wherein said flavoring pellets have one or more substantially similar physical characteristics selected from size, shape, and color.

31. The kit of claim 29 wherein said unpelletized flavors have one or more substantially similar physical characteristics selected from size, shape, and color.

32. The kit of claim 22 wherein said flavoring pellets provided at step a) comprises a plurality of first pellets having a first flavor and a plurality of second pellets having a second flavor.

33. The kit of claim 32 wherein said first pellets have one or more substantially similar physical characteristics selected from size, shape, and color.

34. The kit of claim 32 wherein said second pellets have one or more substantially similar physical characteristics selected from size, shape, and color.

35. The kit of claim 32 wherein promotional information provides instructions or suggestions for using the kit.

36. The kit of claim 22 wherein said food product comprises a low-moisture food product.

37. The kit of claim 22 wherein said flavoring pellets are packaged as a multi-pack having a plurality of individually packaged servings of the same flavor.

Description:

The present invention generally relates to providing a freshly ground flavoring to shelf-stable ready-to-eat food products.

In one embodiment, the present invention provides a method for providing freshly ground flavoring to a food product comprising the steps of providing a flavoring pellet, converting the flavoring pellet into a smaller pellet fragment, and applying the smaller pellet fragment to a shelf-stable and ready to eat food product.

In one embodiment, the present invention provides a method for providing a freshly ground flavoring to a food product comprising the steps of providing a flavoring pellet, grinding the flavoring pellet into a particulate flavoring, and applying the particulate flavoring or ground flavoring to a shelf-stable and ready to eat food product.

In one embodiment, the present invention provides a method for providing a freshly ground flavoring to a low-moisture food product comprising the steps of providing a flavoring pellet, converting the flavoring pellet into a smaller pellet fragment, and applying the pellet fragment to the low-moisture food product.

As used herein, “food product” is synonymous with “shelf-stable, ready-to-eat food product.” As used herein, a shelf-stable ready-to-eat food product is defined as a food product that may be stored without refrigeration for at least one week and that is in ready to use consumable form and requires no additional cooking prior to consumption by a consumer. In one embodiment, the low-moisture food product comprises a moisture content of less than about 5% and more preferably less than about 2%. A shelf-stable ready-to-eat food product in accordance with the present invention, however, can optionally be heated and served in a warmed or heated state.

Food products contemplated by the present invention include, but are not limited to, salty foods and/or savory foods including snack foods. Examples of such savory foods can include chips including, but not limited to, potato chips, tortilla chips, corn-chips, and nut-based chips. Other foods that can be used in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention include, but are not limited to, puffed snacks, rice snacks, rice cakes, all types of crackers and cracker-like snacks, pretzels, breadsticks, meat and other protein-based snacks (e.g. jerky). Additionally sweet foods including breakfast cereals, food bars including granola bars and confection bars, dried vegetables, dried fruits such as bananas and cookies can be used in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention. Other shelf-stable ready-to-eat food can also include produce and vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, popped popcorn (which requires no additional cooking after it is popped), and nuts.

In one embodiment, the present invention provides a kit for providing a freshly ground flavoring to a food product, the kit comprising a shelf-stable, ready-to-eat food product in close proximity to a flavoring pellet.

As used herein, a kit comprises a flavoring pellet that is sold in close proximity to a shelf-stable, ready-to-eat food product. As used herein, a food product in close proximity to a flavoring pellet means that the pellet and the food product are in a visual range, meaning that a person standing in a stationary position can see both the food product and the flavoring pellet with or without a turn of the head. Thus, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, the kit comprises flavoring pellets sold near shelf-stable food product in the produce section of a grocery store. Any shelf-stable flavoring in pellet form can be used in accordance with the present invention.

As used herein, “freshly ground flavoring” means flavoring a food product either temporally coincident with or after a point of sale by separating or converting the flavoring pellet, through grinding or other means such as grating, into a smaller pellet fragment.

The flavoring pellets can comprise one or more flavors, including savory or sweet flavors. For example, in one embodiment, the flavoring pellet comprises a salty flavor. In one embodiment, the flavoring pellet comprises cheddar and sour cream and therefore comprises a blend or combination of flavors (“flavor combination”).

As used herein, “flavor” is meant to construe one or more combinations of flavors, sweeteners and any other organoleptically perceivable material. The flavors may be chosen from a wide range of natural and artificial flavors known to those of ordinary skill in the art. The flavors can be provided in any form of carrier or filler materials including, but not limited to, starch, maltodextrin, and fats and oils. Such flavors can include, but are not limited to, barbecue, ranch, sour cream and onion, cheddar, onion, bacon, chile picante, limon, any form of salsa, spicy pepper, jalapeno, parmesan, pizza, baked potato, bacon, chicken, garlic, pepper, and mixtures thereof. By way of example of a sweet flavor, in one embodiment, the flavoring pellet comprises a cinnamon flavor.

The pellets can comprise a random or uniform shape and can comprise random or substantially similar physical characteristics such as size, shape, and/or colors. Physical characteristics such as such as size, shape, and/or color combinations can be employed to denote or identify pellets having different flavors. Thus, in one embodiment, the pellets having the same flavor or flavor combination comprise one or more substantially similar physical characteristics selected from size, shape, and color. Conversely, different physical characteristics can be provided within the same flavor. Thus, in one embodiment, the pellets having the same flavor or flavor combination comprise one or more substantially different physical characteristics selected from size, shape, and color

In one embodiment, a plurality of first pellets having a first flavor comprise a substantially similar first size and a plurality of second pellets having a second flavor comprise a substantially similar second size. For example, in one embodiment, a plurality of first pellets having a cheddar flavor can all be larger or smaller than a plurality of second pellets having a sour cream flavor. In one embodiment, a plurality of first pellets having a first flavor comprise a substantially similar first shape and a plurality of second pellets having a second flavor comprise a substantially similar second shape. For example, in one embodiment, a plurality of first pellets having a cheddar flavor can all be uniform and substantially rounded and a plurality of second pellets having a sour cream flavor can all have substantially non-round edges. In one embodiment, a plurality of first pellets having a first flavor comprise a substantially similar first color and a plurality of second pellets having a second flavor comprises a substantially similar second color. For example, in one embodiment, a plurality of first pellets having a cheddar flavor can all be substantially yellow and a plurality of second pellets having a sour cream flavor can all be substantially white. The above examples are provided purely for purposes of illustration and not limitation.

In one embodiment, pellets having one or more flavors can be mixed with one or more unpelletized, non-pellet, or ground flavors such as spices, herbs, and seasonings. For example, ground garlic salt can be intermixed with an onion-flavored pellet. Alternatively, ground garlic salt can be intermixed with a garlic-flavored pellet. Flavorings in pellet form can be purchased from International Flavors and Fragrances, Inc. (www.iff.com) of New York, N.Y. or from McCormick & Company, Inc. (www.mccormick.com) of Sparks, Md.

In one embodiment, the pellets comprise an encapsulated aroma that is released when the pellet is ground into a smaller particle size or converted into a smaller pellet fragment. As used herein, an encapsulated aroma is defined as an aroma that is released or activated when the pellet is ground into a smaller particle size. The encapsulated aroma can be provided by herbs, natural essential oils, or any other synthetic or natural food aroma constituent embedded in the pellet.

By way of example, in one embodiment, a kit for providing a freshly ground flavoring for a food product, such as a potato chip, is sold in a grocery store, convenience store, concession stand, kiosk, or restaurant including a sandwich shop or a casual dining restaurant. Although such example contemplates a food product comprising potato chips, any shelf-stable ready-to-eat food product can be used. Adjacent to the potato chips on display are flavoring pellets individually packaged by flavor or flavor combination.

A flavor grinder such as a pepper mill, spice mill, or other similar device for grinding pellets into particulate flavoring can be sold in close proximity to the food product. In one embodiment, a spice mill having a movable part with a series of serrated blades can be used to allow the pellets to be ground into a particulate flavoring. Flavor grinders can provide a consumer with the advantage of a uniform application rate via a controlled turning that actuates the grinding action. Any device can be used that permits the pellets to be ground into smaller particles that can then be applied onto the food product. In one embodiment, the pellets are sold integrally with a grinder and in one embodiment, the pellets are sold in refill-like containers with no grinder.

Promotional information on or adjacent the pellet packaging, food product packaging, and/or grinder packaging can provide instructions or suggestions for using the kit. A consumer, upon seeing the promotional information or upon seeing the kit itself, can purchase a package of food product such as snack chips and then purchase one or more selected pellet flavors to customize the flavor added to the food product to suit his or her individual palette. A user can then freshly season the food product by grinding the flavoring pellets into a ground flavoring or particulate flavoring over the food product to provide a freshly seasoned food product.

Several embodiments of the present invention will now be described in the following prophetic examples. The following examples are intended to illustrate the invention without limiting the scope as a result.

EXAMPLE 1

A consumer in a restaurant grinds flavoring pellets into a particulate flavoring and onto a serving of snack chips, such as potato chips or corn chips, that are in a bag or have been placed onto a napkin or paper-lined basket. The restaurant can provide a station having a plurality of flavor grinders, each flavor grinder having a different flavor, to provide the consumer with a wide variety of flavoring alternatives and combinations. Alternatively, the station can comprise a plurality of electric or non-electric flavor grinders, wherein each grinder has a different flavor. The station can be in one place in the restaurant or stations having a plurality of flavor grinders can be placed on each individual table. In one embodiment, a consumer can be provided with flavoring pellets, either with or without a grinder, when the consumer receives his or her food order. The pellets can also be provided in individually-wrapped packets similar to packets used for sugar to permit a consumer apply one or more flavoring pellet flavors into a finer powder or particulate flavoring. Alternatively, the consumer can instruct a food server to grind or grind and apply an amount of one or more flavorings to the food product. The food product can optionally be heated to add a synergistic dimension of freshness to the freshly seasoned food product. The food product can be heated by a food service provider, who may hand a consumer a bag of heated food product prior to or after addition of the ground flavoring. In one embodiment, a low-moisture food product is quickly heated in a heating device by a food service provider or a consumer prior to or after addition of the freshly ground flavoring. In such embodiment, the oven preferably takes less than about 2 minutes and more preferably less than about 1 minute and most preferably less than about 30 seconds to heat one or more servings of food product to a temperature greater than about 120° F. and more preferably greater than about 125° F. In one embodiment, the food product temperature is less than about 180° F. and more preferably less than about 165° F. In such embodiment, the heating device substantially evenly heats the food product and temperature gradients in the food product is preferably less than about 20° F. and more preferably less than about 10° F. when the food product is removed from the heating device. Such narrow temperature gradient can provide a consumer a consistent sensory experience. Alternatively, the food product can be heated by a consumer in a microwave provided by a restaurant. In one embodiment, the food product is in a microwaveable container or package.

The example above helps to illustrate several advantages of the present invention. First, a restaurant is able to offer a fresh flavoring delivery for its consumers since the grinding of the pellet is temporally coincident with the point of sale. By “temporally coincident with the point of sale” means that the pellet can be ground onto the food product a short time period (e.g. ten minutes) prior to the point of sale. For example, the grinding of the food product is temporally coincident with the point of sale if the food server is instructed to grind the pellet into the particulate flavoring. Alternatively, the fresh flavoring delivery occurs after the point of sale if the consumer grinds and applies the flavoring to the food product at any time after purchase. For example, it is contemplated that in one embodiment a consumer purchasing a kit comprising a flavoring pellet and food product will take the products home after the point of sale and grind the pellet onto the food product at home.

Second, the dining experience can be enhanced as the consumer is able to prepare or custom order freshly ground flavorings for his or her food product. Consumers are thus able to vary the intensity or application level of the flavoring, unlike a pre-flavored or pre-seasoned snack chip. Additionally, the food product can be seasoned to a desired flavor by mixing the various flavorings. For example, a ground flavoring having a barbecue flavor can be mixed with a ground flavoring having a spicy flavor to obtain a spicy barbecue flavor. Further, the level of spiciness can be controlled by the consumer by varying the application level of the spicy flavor.

Third, an interactive dining experience can be an enhanced dining experience. An interactive dining experience of providing a freshly ground flavoring to a food product can facilitate conversation between diners regarding the various flavors, intensities, and flavor combinations available as the diners are grinding the flavoring pellets. Further, there is an added dimension of freshness and naturalness to the dining experience as flavoring is freshly ground onto the food product further enhancing the overall dining experience. These added dimensions of freshness promote the atmosphere of a more culinary or upscale dining establishment. Further, a consumer can experiment with different concentrations, and levels of flavoring to find one that is desirable. Also, unlike pre-seasoned or pre-flavored food products a consumer or diner can experiment with a small serving size of food product so that if the experimental flavor or flavor combination is undesirable, another flavor can be applied to the remaining food product.

Fourth, the fresh flavoring system of the present invention reduces the number of pre-flavored food products that need to be stored by a restaurant. For example, the restaurant can simply have salted or unsalted snack chips which can be easily seasoned by the pellets to other flavors typically kept on hand such as barbecue, sour cream and onion, and cheddar. Additionally, because the pellets are relatively compact as compared to the bulkier food product, and because fewer pre-flavored food products are needed in inventory, a restaurant is able to offer consumers a wider selection of flavors with less required storage space. Further, because the pellets have a longer shelf-life than the food product, a restaurant owner can provide less popular flavors to consumers without the worry that the food product will stale prior to being purchased. Moreover, a restaurant or a store can offer regional, ethnic, or niche flavors that are normally not offered due to the constraints posed by a low volume flavor line. Further, niche, gourmet, and ethnic/multi-cultural flavors can be provided in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention.

In one embodiment, when the consumer grinds the flavoring pellet onto his or her food product, an aroma is released from the pellet. Because a food flavor is derived from both the taste and aroma or smell of a food, the dining experience is further enhanced in such embodiment because of the enhanced flavor delivery provided by an aroma. Any desirable aroma can be used in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention, including but not limited fruity flavors such as citrus and lime, herb flavors, barbecue, smoke, etc.

It should be again noted that although the above embodiment is directed towards snack chips, any shelf-stable ready-to-eat food product can be used including, but not limited to, those discussed above.

EXAMPLE 2

Potato chips are displayed on a grocery or convenience store shelf. Flavoring pellets comprising various flavors are adjacent the potato chips. The flavoring pellets can be placed adjacent to the potato chips on the same shelf, on a shelf above or below the potato chips, or on display rack that is near the shelf. In one embodiment, the flavoring pellets can be sold in conjunction with a grinder. The flavoring pellets can also be provided in packets or containers to permit a consumer to apply the pellets into a finer powder or particulate flavoring. In one embodiment, the potato chips can be provided in microwavable packaging to facilitate heating of the food product to add a synergistic dimension of freshness to the freshly seasoned food product. In one embodiment, ground flavoring is applied to the potato chips while the potato chips remain in the original product packaging.

Promotional and/or instructional material can be provided to encourage consumers to purchase the kit to prepare their own customized flavor combinations. The pellets can be sold as individual flavors in containers or in variety-packs and may or may not be packaged integrally with the potato chips. A multi-pack comprises two or more individually-packaged servings of the pellets having the same flavor packaged together. A variety-pack comprises two or more distinct flavors packaged separately. In one embodiment, the variety-pack comprises a first container having barbecue flavored pellets and a second container having spicy flavored pellets that can be used separately or in combination to enable a consumer to customize the flavor to his or her liking. In one embodiment, a pellet having a first flavor and a pellet having a second flavor are sold in the same container.

This example helps to illustrate several advantages of the present invention. First, a store is able to offer a fresh flavoring delivery for its consumers since the grinding of the pellet can occur after the point of sale.

Second, the present invention provides a way for people with different tastes to consume fresher shelf-stable, ready-to-eat food products. Food product quality can decrease more rapidly after the package is opened. Thus, there is often a correlation between product freshness and the amount of time that a package is open. Rather than each member of a household opening and consuming a portion of a bag of potato chips so that each member can enjoy their favorite, different flavor as occurs in the prior art, the present invention permits members of a household to enjoy different flavors with the same bag of chips. Thus, one bag of chips can be opened at a time, which can help ensure that the food product have the maximum freshness possible. Consequently, a family or set of roommates having different tastes can purchase a single bag of potato chips and custom season to their own taste. Similarly, someone hosting a party no longer needs to purchase several different potato chip bags merely so that all the staple flavors are represented. Rather, the host need only purchase the desired volume of potato chips and the desired flavored pellets. Further, because the pellets have a longer shelf-life than the potato chips, the flavored pellets can be stored for later use, unlike a bag of pre-seasoned or pre-flavored potato chips which must be consumed shortly after the bag is opened.

Third, the dining experience is enhanced as the consumer is able to custom prepare freshly ground flavorings for his or her food product. Consumers are thus able to vary the intensity or application level of the flavoring. Additionally, consumers can vary the flavor combination and can, for example, combine a barbecue flavor with a spicy flavor to obtain a combination spicy barbecue flavor. Further, the level of spiciness can be controlled by the consumer by varying the application level of the spicy flavor.

In one embodiment, when the consumer grinds the flavoring pellet onto his or her food product, an aroma is released from the pellet. Because a food flavor is derived from both the taste and aroma or smell of a food, the eating experience is further enhanced in such embodiment because of the enhanced flavor delivery provided by an aroma. Thus, a smoke aroma can be encapsulated in a pellet having a barbecue flavor to further enhance the eating experience and add a dimension of freshness not currently available to packaged snack food products.

Fourth, an interactive eating experience is an enhanced eating experience. An interactive eating experience of providing a freshly ground flavoring to a food product can facilitate conversation between people regarding the various flavor and flavor combinations. Further, there is an added dimension of freshness to the eating experience as flavoring is freshly ground onto the food product. These added dimensions of freshness promote the atmosphere of a more culinary or upscale dining establishment. As a result, a better overall eating experience can be provided.

Fifth, the fresh flavoring system of the present invention reduces the number of pre-flavored food products that need to be stocked by a store. For example, the store can simply have salted potato chips which can be easily seasoned by the pellets to other flavors typically kept on hand such as barbecue, sour cream and onion, and cheddar. Additionally, because the pellets are relatively compact as compared to the bulkier food product, and because fewer pre-flavored food products are needed in inventory, a store is able to offer consumers a wider selection of flavors with less required storage space. Further, a store and/or food product manufacturer with limited shelf space for display of product can offer more flavors with the same or even less shelf space. Consequently, niche, gourmet, and ethnic/multi-cultural flavors can be provided in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention. Further, more truck space can be freed up to ship additional flavors, and save on distribution costs. Consequently, a store and/or food product manufacturer can provide less popular flavors, introduce new flavors, and test market flavors and flavor combinations to consumers without the worry that the food product will stale prior to being purchased. Similarly, because additional flavors can be added without a reduction in shelf space and with little additional cost, additional flavors tailored to various geographic regions can be offered. Thus, regional preferences can be better served.

It should be again noted that although the above examples are directed towards potato chips, other food products can be used including, but not limited to, the food products discussed above.

EXAMPLE 3

Produce such as broccoli, cauliflower, and/or carrots is displayed on a grocery store shelf. Flavoring pellets comprising various flavors are adjacent the produce. The flavoring pellets can be placed adjacent to the produce on the same shelf, on a shelf above or below the produce, or on display rack that is near the shelf. In one embodiment, the flavoring pellets can be sold in conjunction with a grinder. The flavoring pellets can also be provided in individually-wrapped packets to permit a consumer to apply the pellets into a finer powder or particulate flavoring.

Promotional and/or instructional material can be provided to encourage consumers to purchase the kit to prepare their own customized flavor combinations. The pellets can be sold individually or in variety-packs and may or may not be packaged integrally with the produce. A variety-pack comprises two or more distinct flavors packaged in separate containers but sold as a single unit. In one embodiment, the pellets are encapsulated with an herb-like aroma so that when the flavoring pellets are ground onto the vegetable, there is a further, additional sense of freshness.

This example helps to illustrate several advantages of the present invention. First, a store is able to offer a fresh flavoring delivery for its consumers since the grinding of the pellet can occur after the point of sale.

Second, the dining experience is enhanced as the consumer is able to custom prepare freshly ground flavorings for his or her food product. Consumers are thus able to vary the intensity or application level of the flavoring. Additionally, consumers can vary the flavor combination and can, for example, combine a parmesan flavor with a cheddar flavor to obtain a combination cheese flavor.

Third, an interactive eating experience is an enhanced eating experience. An interactive eating experience of providing a freshly ground flavoring to a food product can facilitate conversation between people regarding the various flavor and flavor combinations. Further, there is an added dimension of freshness to the eating experience as flavoring is freshly ground onto the food product. This added dimension of freshness can be further enhanced with inclusion of an encapsulated aroma within the pellet. As a result, a better overall eating experience can be provided.

Fourth, adding different, fresh flavors to produce can help to encourage people including children to eat more vegetables. Further, niche, gourmet, and ethnic/multi-cultural flavors can be provided in accordance with various embodiments of the present invention.

While this invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to a preferred embodiment, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and detail may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, although a flavoring pellet can be construed to be relatively small, a larger pellet(s) can be used. For example, in one embodiment, a cheese-like grater or other equivalent device can be used to shave or grind a flavoring pellet block into a smaller pellet fragment and place the fragment onto a shelf-stable food product. Consequently, in one embodiment, the step of converting the pellet into a smaller pellet fragment occurs without a grinder.

Further, although the examples depicted above are directed towards embodiments that can occur in a store or a restaurant, the instant invention can be provided in numerous places including concession stands located at places including, but not limited to, movie theaters, kiosks, sporting events, convenience stores, home, and any other place that food products are purchased or consumed.