food / travel

Crowdsourced Snacks: New Swiss Potato Chip Flavor Crunched Online

“Terra” potato chips, a popular Swiss brand, has gotten people talking about its latest flavor options. How? By having consumers come up with the new recipes themselves. But the real novelty is that the “inventors” of the winning flavors get a nice little

Terra's famous potato chips come in blue too (urbanfoodie33)
Terra's famous potato chips come in blue too (urbanfoodie33)


ZURICH -- The classic approach to advertising works more or less like this: any company interested in plugging a new product turns to an advertising agency, which makes a commercial that's shown over and over on TV and theoretically drives sales. This has been standard procedure for 50 years.

Now, however, companies are discovering new, Internet-driven promo options that take an interactive approach to marketing. But one such initiative in particular caught the attention of Tages-Anzeiger editors.

Switzerland's largest supermarket chain has for years been the exclusive retailer of "Terra" potato chips. The company that manufactures the chips, Bischofszell Nahrungsmittel, profiles their product against competing brands by having unusual flavors, like wasabi or thyme-and-lemon.

In the lead up to launching its latest flavors, rather than develop the flavors itself, the company decided to do something new. Under the heading "Have Fun Trying Out New Tastes," it listed 100 ingredients on its site,, and invited visitors to create whatever new combinations they could with them. Within a couple of weeks, the company had received 12,000 out of the 18 billion combos that are theoretically possible. Some were a little far out, such as strawberries with veal.

Users were then asked to vote on the 50 most appealing ideas – strawberry-ginger made the cut, for example – which the company then produced in small quantities.

In the next phase, the chips were tasted by a panel headed by a famous Swiss TV chef. The panel selected five flavors that were then presented to the public in branches of the Migros supermarket, exclusive retailers for the brand. Customers were asked to fill out ballots with the names of their two top choices.

This past weekend, the company made its much anticipated final announcement. And the winners are…"Sunny Forest," an onion, mushroom and bacon flavored option; and "Malaknesa," a pickle-and-dill melange.

This kind of "crowdsourcing" approach to advertising isn't completely original. What is different about Bischofszell Nahrungsmittel's Terra chip experiment, however, is that the "discoverers' of the two new chips recipes – Alexandra O. and Fabienne H. – will see a percentage of sales: 1% of turnover, which could work out to roughly $110,000 for each.

Read the original article in German by Christian Lüscher

Photo - urbanfoodie33

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Saving The Planet Is Really A Question Of Dopamine

Our carelessness toward the environment could be due, in part, to the functioning of a very primitive area of our brain: the striatum.

Ad scuba-diver and brain coral

Stefano Lupieri

PARIS — Almost every week, a new scientific study alerts us to the degradation of the environment. And yet, we continue not to change anything fundamental in our systems of production and habits of consumption. Are we all suffering from blindness, or poisoned by denial?

In his popular books Le Bug humain (The Human Bug) and Où est le sens? (Where is the Sense?), Sébastien Bohler, a journalist in neuroscience and psychology, provides a much more rational explanation: The mechanism responsible for our propensity to destroy our natural environment is in fact a small, very deep and very primitive structure of our brain called the striatum.

This regulator of human motivation seems to have been programmed to favor behaviors that ensure the survival of the species.

Addictions to sex and social media

Since the dawn of humanity, gathering information about our environment, feeding ourselves, ensuring the transmission of our genes through sexual intercourse and asserting our social status have all been rewarded with a shot of dopamine, the 'pleasure hormone.'

Nothing has changed since then; except that, in our society of excess, there is no limit to the satisfaction of these needs. This leads to the overconsumption of food and addictions to everything from sex to social media — which together account for much of the world's destructive agricultural and energy practices.

No matter how much we realize that this is leading to our downfall, we can't help but relapse because we are prisoners of the dopamine pump in the striatum, which cannot be switched off.

Transverse section of striatum from a structural MRI image

Lindsay Hanford and Geoff B Hall via Wikipedia

Tweaking genetics 

According to Bohler, the only way out is to encourage the emergence of new values of sobriety, altruism and slowness. If adopted, these more sustainable notions could be recognized by the striatum as new sources of dopamine reward. But there's the challenge of promoting inspiring stories that infuse them with value.

Take the photo-collage exhibition "J'agis ici... et je m'y colle" ("I'm taking action here... and I'm sticking to it"), a collection of life-size portraits of residents committed to the energy transition, displayed on the walls of the French coastal city of La Rochelle.

Backed by the French National Center for Street Arts, photographer Martin Charpentier may be employing artistic techniques, but he's also tinkering with neuroscience in the process.

Les Echos
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