December 30, 2007

The ReaLemon Collection

ReaLemon Recipe Collection (1987, 128 pages) is a hardcover book with a spiral wire binding published by Borden, Inc. It contains many of the recipes previously published in the smaller promotional pamphlets and booklets. We looked at a couple of those a while back in the Borden New Idea Series.

Annie Watts, Director of the Borden Kitchens, noted that [at the time of publication] ReaLemon Lemon Juice from Concentrate had been around for more than 50 years. ReaLemon was originally sold by the Puritan-ReaLemon Company. Borden acquired the company in 1962.

Eagle Family Foods acquired the brand from Borden and owned it from 1997 until 2001. It's current owner is Mott's, the apple juice people. Mott's, by the way, is owned by Cadbury Schweppes, the worlds third largest soft drink company.

Like most food companies today, this brand, which started in a Chicago basement, is a long way from its roots.

This cookbook contains more than 200 recipes in a variety of categories. Appetizers, Salads, Beverages, Fish & Seafood, Meats & Poultry, Vegetables, Breads, Cakes & Cookies, Pies and Desserts are all well represented.

According to the Order Form in the rear of the book (where you can order additional copies for $2.95 w/POP and $4.95 w/o), there are 98 color photographs. The actual food in the photographs looks very nice but the backgrounds are kind of dark, as you can see in the photo below.

A little perk is in the back of the book too: a 20-cent manufacturer's coupon with no expiration date. That makes this 20-year-old coupon worth about 60 cents today if you take triple coupons into account.

Hidden way back on page 120 is the spiel on why you should use their product instead of fresh lemons:


"ReaLemon starts with the juice of fresh lemons, concentrated to a uniform strength. Enough filtered water is used to return this concentrate to the natural strength of fresh lemons. Lemon oil from the peel is added to enhance the natural taste of fresh lemons. ReaLemon is more economical and more convenient than fresh squeezed lemons. And since fresh lemons can differ in size, juiciness, and strength, the uniformity of ReaLemon can be an advantage in preparing recipes that call for lemon juice. For recipes specifying the "juice of one lemon," use 2 to 3 tablespoons of ReaLemon."

(To avoid the fresh lemons vs. bottled juice debate, let it be known that I use fresh lemons most of the time, but I like to have a backup in case I'm out.)

I looked at a bottle in my refrigerator, which specified to use 3 tablespoons of ReaLemon for the juice of 1 medium lemon. Modifications to the product or marketing? I go with the marketing--no use in giving consumers an excuse to buy less.

Muffins seem to be more trendy today than coffee cakes. I'm thinking of trying this recipe out tomorrow. It's been a while since I made a coffee cake.


2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons ReaLemon Juice from Concentrate
2 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
Cinnamon-Nut Topping*

Preheat oven to 350°. In small bowl, beat cheese, confectioners' sugar and ReaLemon until smooth; set aside. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large mixer bowl, beat granulated sugar and margarine until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream; mix well. Pour half of batter into greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Spoon cheese mixture on top of batter to within 1/2 inch of pan edge. Spoon remaining batter over filling; spreading to pan edge. Sprinkle with Cinnamon Nut Topping. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan. Serve warm.

Makes one 10-inch cake.

*Cinnamon Nut Topping: Combine 1/4 cup finely chopped nuts, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
And now for an observation from a consumer:

Did you notice the nice glass bottles of ReaLemon shown on the front side of the page with the cookbook offer? Now ReaLemon comes in those nasty, really flimsy plastic bottles.

It's places like this where I get sidetracked, off reading about details such as the packaging of the products. It's part of what makes these advertising cookbooks so interesting to me.

The ReaLemon packaging was redesigned in 2003. I'm not sure when they switched from glass to plastic on the smaller bottles, but the 32 ounce bottle was still packaged in glass at that time.

After reading this article on Packworld, I found out why my ReaLemon doesn't last as long as it used to. I knew that previously I could have a bottle in the refrigerator for what seemed like forever and it would still be good. Then I noticed that it seemed like it went bad much more quickly. I just didn't know why. I sure didn't connect it to the packaging.

"We set out to redesign the ReaLemon packaging to fit our manufacturing standard and take cost out of the package," notes Bill Eaton, packaging manager, juices and ingredients. He says molding bottles on existing equipment in-house provides economic advantages compared to buying finished bottles. Previously, the company bought glass for the 32-oz size, which Eaton admits offered a shelf life longer than the nine months PET delivers. The previous 15-oz bottles bought externally used a polypropylene/ethylene vinyl alcohol combination."

"With any citrus product, heat, oxygen, and light are the primary barrier concerns," says Eaton. "We did extensive shelf life testing and found the product holds up pretty well in PET."

"Consumer research showed they really loved the bottle compared to what we were offering," says Bergenfeld. "Customers think it's great because it's very innovative and it gets them out of the glass bottle where there's a safety and breakage [factor because] we're always on the top shelf. They're always looking for innovation and great-looking and handling products." The new packs sell at retail for the same average prices as their predecessors, $2.69 for the 32-oz ReaLemon; $2.09 for the 15-oz version."
They didn't ask this consumer. I always prefer glass bottles. I will even pay more for glass given the choice of glass versus plastic. I do find it interesting that despite all of the rah-rah "this is for the consumer" stuff, they managed to cut their packaging costs, decrease the shelf life which will result in more product sales, and keep their retail price about the same.

It's particularly irksome because the plastic bottle in my refrigerator practically caves in from the normal pressure of my fingers when I pick it up. I've noticed this "caving-in" trend in a lot of plastic bottles recently. Can manufacturers skimp any more on the plastic?


At 6:27 AM CST, Blogger T.W. Barritt said...

I remember other companies switching from glass to plastic, and they used the same rationale. I wonder if it would still hold up these days, with the current move towards all things 'green'?

At 6:09 PM CST, Blogger Kathy said...

T.W. - Can't wait to see what they'll inflict on us next under the guise of 'going green'.

At 10:28 PM CST, Blogger Lydia said...

I remember having this in the door of the fridge in my mom's kitchen all the time, but I confess I haven't used it for more than 30 years. Would be fun to look through the cookbook, though. Happy new year, Kathy!

At 4:06 PM CDT, Blogger djklek said...

I have a green glass bottle of
Realemon, seal unbroken and stored
on a cool shelf. I don't know how
old the product is but, I noticed a
solid mass in the bottom of the bottle. Do you think it's the preservative? Is it safe to use?

At 6:59 AM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

djklek - I don't know. You could call the ReaLemon people and ask them. The phone number for consumers on my ReaLemon bottle is 1-800-214-4923.


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