Walnut Community

Sensory Appeal

According to the American Psychological Association, our taste buds are chemical sensors that tire quickly. The first few bites of food taste better than the last, and the noise — particularly a crunch — that foods make are all the more appealing. Walnuts possess that crunch that signifies a satisfying quality desired by the senses, and food manufacturers have started developing new snacks with walnuts to capitalize on their consumer appeal.

Many of these walnut snacking products have the term “bite” included in their names. Why is the word bite so popular? Bite-sized denotes a smaller portion size, and in a nation that is steering away from super sizing and leaning toward downsizing, bites can be appealing. Bites also can be used to formulate products that deliver nutritional value that’s easy for consumers to access and understand. In these snack bites, walnuts are a great option for consumers to help implement a routine of mindful snacking.

Walnuts and Mindful Snacking

A recent paper from the Nurses Health Study stated that walnuts were the only nut linked with a greater chance of healthy aging. Walnuts also are the only nut significantly high in omega-3 alpha-linolenic essential fatty acids (2.5g/oz). They also support heart health, as they are certified by the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark.

Walnuts are nutrient-dense, containing 4 grams of protein per serving, which is uniquely important in snacking, as more consumers are seeking snack products that provide protein. In fact, Mintel reported that half of U.S. consumers believe they need more protein in their diets. Additionally, studies suggest that walnuts may play a role in gut health, including increasing the amount of beneficial bacteria.

Flavor Pairings in Snacking Products

Snacking manufacturers are recognizing the walnut more and more as a flavorful pairing with a bevy of salty, sweet and savory ingredients, making for some delicious bite-sized snacking options. In fact, California Walnut Commission partnered with the Davis Sensory Institute to taste test 15 flavor pairings with walnuts. Top five pairings included walnuts with dark chocolate, sesame cayenne, vanilla, sea salt caramel and coffee. Walnuts also pair well with fruit, which makes for an amazing burst of flavor heading into the summer months. Let’s take a look at some bite-sized snack products available on the market today.

Fearless Keto Cookie Bites

Introduced in December 2019, all three varieties of Fearless Keto’s Cookie Bites — Choco Fudge, Maple Butter and Chocolate Chip — are made with walnut powder. Why the choice of walnuts? Nosh.com reports that mother-daughter Fearless Keto Owners Mary and Lauren Paley wanted the combination of omega-3 rich California walnut flour due to the role that walnuts play in heart health.” The Cookie Bites contain one gram of carbs per one oz. serving, which is seven mini cookies. They are gluten-free and contain no artificial ingredients.

Abby’s Better Walnut Nut Butter Bites

Whether you’re in the mood for fruit or chocolate, Abby’s Better has both flavors to choose from in its Walnut Nut Butter Bites. Apple Cinnamon and Brownie Bites are options for a made with walnuts on-the-go snack. There are only five ingredients in these bites, all of which are all-natural and do not contain artificial flavors and preservatives.

Dylan’s Candy Bar Chocolate Walnut Fudge Bites

If you’re ready for pure indulgence in a bite-sized old-school treat with a new-school twist, look no further than fudge! Crunchy walnuts are infused into chocolate fudge for a 1.6 oz. taste bud pleaser.

Made in Michigan Dark Chocolate Walnut Energy Bites

Walnuts combined with dried fruits and dark chocolate make for soft, chewy bites with a hint of peppermint. Each 5.9 oz. resealable bag contains six squares, perfect for portion control. These bites are certified vegan and are gluten-, dairy- and soy-free. Don’t want to enjoy them right now? Refrigerate or freeze to save for even later.

SDA Food Organic Sun Dried Fig & Walnut Bites

Introduced at Natural Products Expo East, these organic Fig & Walnut bites have two ingredients: walnuts and sun dried fig paste. As part of its “wild & raw” collection, this product only contains 79 calories and four grams of dietary fiber per serving.

The use of walnuts in snacking products adds a versatile spin to flavor and texture with each and every bite. Now that you’re craving your next crunch, pick up one of these walnuts snacks at your supermarket, or just grab a handful of walnuts and start snacking.

And if you’re interested in learning more about California walnuts in future product development, email Keith Seiz at kseiz@walnuts.org

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