Jewel-Osco shoppers, have you noticed the rollout of Signature brands in the aisles and weekly ads recently? You’ll see them exclusively at Jewel-Osco in nearly every department of the store. In addition to the food and household staples you’d expect, you’ll also find specialty items with the Signature label.
There are more than 4000 products in the Signature line, and they’re categorized into six sectors:
- Signature Kitchens
- Signature Farms
- Signature Select
- Signature Cafe
- Signature Home
- Signature Care
Earlier this month, I met up with the Signature brand team to celebrate the launch of the Signature family of brands. 25 bloggers from around the country were invited to a launch event in Los Angeles to experience the Signature product line firsthand.
Our event began at Hollywood’s State Social House with a dinner made from Signature-branded foods. We enjoyed a Signature dinner featuring everything from ahi tuna salad to chicken street tacos to baked bacon mac and cheese. For dessert, we had a buffet of sweet treats — cookies and cream ice cream parfaits, fresh fruit salad, and cinnamon pretzel bites! It was a tasty introduction to some of the Signature foods and a great opportunity to get to know the other bloggers at the event.
The real fun began the next morning. We headed to the private home of a well-known Hollywood photographer in Laurel Canyon to try out, taste, and cook with many of the new Signature foods!
We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to spend learning about the Signature brand, sampling new foods and soaking up the California sun.
We were treated to a Signature breakfast toast bar — a simple idea to please lots of different tastes. The bar featured several different kinds of toast, fresh avocados and tomatoes, uncured bacon, and a variety of jams, jellies and spreads.
Chef Jeff Anderson from Albertsons Culinary Kitchens was on hand to both host the event and share many details about what exactly goes in to crafting the Signature line.
What goes into creating Signature-branded products for Jewel-Osco? Chef Jeff said that when a new food trend is identified, it takes about eighteen months to bring that product to the marketplace. (Kale is an example — as kale has risen in popularity, shoppers have looked to include more of this vegetable in their diets.) Chef Jeff said that his team actually watches food bloggers around the country to take note of which food items and ingredients are trending and rising in popularity, as they may inspire new Signature products or dishes.
He also noted some of the difficulties in creating both recipes and products that everyone will like. “Food evokes memories,” he said. “Everyone loves things the way your mom made them, but there’s only one ‘your mom!’ Chef Jeff said that his goal is to create best-in-class recipes that hit on all of the flavors that will appeal to all Jewel-Osco shoppers. He talked about the test kitchen process and how many people taste multiple versions of products before they get the green light to be made available at Jewel.
While Chef Jeff spoke, we tasted several of the new fresh Signature Cafe soups that are now available at Jewel-Osco: Signature Cafe’s White Bean & Kale, Cauliflower & Cheddar, and Tuscan Tomato & Basil Bisque. Chef Jeff gave a lot of the bloggers in the room ideas when he talked about using these soups as ingredients for other meals! For example, the white bean and kale soup makes a good layering ingredient for a vegan veggie lasagna. Cauliflower & Cheddar soup is tasty ladled over a loaded baked potato in a bowl. The Tuscan Tomato & Basil Bisque is a surprisingly thick soup, and Chef Jeff said that it’s great to use as a pizza sauce or to bake boneless chicken breasts in. (It also has a little red pepper kick to it – very tasty!)
Every Signature product also comes with a 100% money back guarantee, so there’s no risk in trying something new. Chef Jeff said that using these soups in creative ways can help you put a great meal on the table more quickly, as we’re all pressed for time and don’t always have the opportunity to cook from scratch. He added, “There’s nothing wrong with cooking with convenient ingredients if they’re quality foods.”
After the soup tasting, we were invited to join the chef in the kitchen and make our own lunches with Signature ingredients! Each blogger received a dough ball, and we each floured a space on the countertop to stretch and work the dough into a pizza crust.
We took the dough outside for a quick roast on the grill, and then we headed back to the kitchen, where there was a make-your-own-pizza bar stocked with Signature ingredients:
Where to begin? We could choose from sun-dried tomatoes to mushrooms to artichoke hearts; pesto, marinara and alfredo sauces; feta cheese, mozzarella cheese, bacon and balsamic vinaigrette. Yum! Here’s a little video of my pizza assembly (if your sound’s on, you won’t be surprised by my favorite ingredient…)
We topped our pizzas, took them back outside for another high-heat roasting, and then it was time to eat! We dined outside in the warm air in a beautiful setting, and for my Chicagoland readers, truly I wish I could have brought some of that California sunshine home: It was 96 degrees on the day I arrived in L.A., and it was 86 degrees during our luncheon. Wow!
As our delicious lunch wrapped up, a special guest arrived — Cooking Channel host Tiffani Thiessen! Tiffani is the new celebrity spokesperson for the Signature line, and she spent the rest of the day with us. It’s not always easy to gauge what someone’s really like when you’ve only got a couple of hours to spend with them, but she came across as very down-to-earth and genuinely fun to be around. She sat right down and talked with us about everything from cooking, to family life, to, of course, her days on Saved By The Bell.
Of her Cooking Channel show “Dinner at Tiffani’s,” Tiffani said “I’m not a chef. I consider myself a home cook. Cooking for me is about breaking bread, creating memories and moments with friends.” She said that viewers sometimes marvel that people are actually eating on her show. (Think about how many food shows depict the preparation process — few show people actually eating the entire meal afterward!) “Yes, we really do eat on this show! Everyone comes over hungry, and I feed them.” One blogger asked how often she cooks for her own family, and she said “Not every night, but I do cook four to five times a week.” (Close enough!)
A few more tidbits from our time with Tiffani:
- She was a vegetarian for 15 years. While pregnant, she felt like her body was craving meat. She ate an In N’ Out burger after a yoga class, and then… “I never looked back!”
- Another Chicago blogger asked her if she’d heard about the Saved By The Bell-themed restaurant opening in Chicago this summer. Tiffani replied,”What are they going to serve? Bad patty melts? Because that’s what the food was!” She added that the lackluster food at “The Max” on Saved By The Bell actually came from a restaurant around the corner from where Saved By The Bell was filming.
- Tiffani and her husband raise chickens at home. They currently have six, and the number of chickens continues to grow as they adopt more “rescue chickens.” This was the first many of us had heard of rescue chickens! She explained that some people get chickens and then decide they don’t want to raise them, so they abandon them outside a local feed store in Los Angeles. Her husband and daughter are softies and will call her from the feed store to tell her that another chicken needs a home. One blogger, who also raises chickens, pointed out that the chickens only lay eggs for so long, and then… Will her chickens eventually become an all-natural, free-range dinner? “No! They’re pets. But we live in LA — we can’t have a million chickens, but my husband keeps rescuing them.”
- Tiffani has a cookbook coming out soon, and the entire season of Dinner at Tiffani’s will re-air in May on the Cooking Channel.
- She’s a working mother! She brought her nine-month-old son to the Signature event, and she took several breaks from the festivities to nurse him. Her show is filmed in a real home kitchen, not on a soundstage — she films at her neighbor’s house, which has a very photogenic kitchen and is also close enough to home that she can walk back to her house, nurse, and visit her children during filming breaks.
And, what was quite possibly the best she’s just like us! moment, eliciting sighs of recognition from the bloggers? Tiffani arrived in a sundress and killer high heels. When the event wrapped and the cameras had been put away, she kicked off those fabulous shoes and pulled a pair of flip-flops out of her bag. Ahh.
(Yes, cameras document every moment of events like these, so you always want to be well-dressed!)
After lunch, Tiffani dished out numerous ice cream-themed treats to the bloggers, including handmade ice cream sandwiches rolled in pecans, ice cream sundaes, and Italian affogato — ice cream with a shot of hot coffee on top. She shared a tip for easy ice cream sandwiches too:
Who doesn’t love ice cream? We couldn’t wait for dessert. However, if you’d told me that sometime in my future, I’d be making ice cream treats with Tiffani Thiessen, I would have found it difficult to believe, but… here’s the proof:
As our day wound down, we shared a Signature iced tea toast with Tiffani in the California sun, and then the bloggers were invited to pick up a shopping bag and “Shop Signature” throughout the house.
It was a little like “Supermarket Sweep,” except no one was running and there were plenty of groceries for everyone. (I’ve got some goodies from my shopping spree to share with a lucky reader too, which I’m giving away in this post!)
The Signature brands launch was filled with food, cooking and culinary fun! A big thank -you to Jewel-Osco for inviting me to the event — it’s always fascinating to learn what goes into bringing a new product to market, let alone more than four thousand new products! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the Signature product launch, and I bet you’ll look at these products a little differently the next time you go to Jewel-Osco. So much goes into creating high-quality house-branded products for their stores.
Here in Chicagoland, Signature products are available exclusively at local Jewel-Osco stores, and around the country, you can also find them at all Albertsons Companies grocery stores including Albertsons, Safeway, ACME, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Shaws, Star Market, United Express, United and Carrs/Safeway.
(And, I have to confess — my children, who watch Saved By The Bell in its endless syndication, were beyond thrilled that their mama met “Kelly Kapowski” on this trip.)