MONEY Food & Drink

Blue Bell Ice Cream Returns to Stores

After recalling products in April because of bacterial contamination, Blue Bell is returning to select locations.

Just in time for Labor Day weekend, Blue Bell Creameries will be shipping ice cream to stores in Texas and Alabama. The company shut down production in April after a listeria outbreak and ordered a total recall of all its products, thus depriving loyal customers of a taste of their favorite frozen concoctions all summer. The company received permission from the state of Alabama in August to restart commercial production and distribution. Production is well below full capacity, and it is unknown how long it will take the regional producer to expand sales to additional states.

Read next: 5 Fast Food Mashup Monstrosities You Know You Want to Try

MONEY Education

12 Big Back-to-School Trends Every Parent Should Know

Essential reading for the start of the school year.

The 2015-2016 school year is upon us. Are you ready? To get up to speed, take note of a dozen trends around the country that are having an impact on what students are wearing to school, when your child has to get up in the morning for the start of the school day, how much families must chip in for class supplies and school activities, which kids are most likely to be left behind inside and outside the classroom, and more.

  • Later School Starting Times

    girl in bed sleeping with alarm clock
    Aitor Diago—Getty Images

    The CDC and pediatricians are among the many who recommend later start times for schools in order to assure that kids get enough sleep. And slowly, schools seem to be getting the message. Three-quarters of high schools in the northern-latitude states of North Dakota and Alaska begin the day at 8:30 a.m. or later, and a trickling of schools in places like Yakima, Wash., and Denver, Colo., are joining their ranks this fall. States such as New Jersey have agreed to study the impact of later school start times as well. On the other hand, nationwide, more than 80% of public high schools still start the day before 8:30 a.m.

  • Growing Extracurricular Activity Gap

    students in theater group
    Getty Images

    Over the past few decades, researchers have traced a trend they describe as “alarming”: The percentage of upper- and middle-class kids participating in the drama program, hobby clubs, and other non-athletic afterschool activities has steadily increased, while poor students have followed the opposite trajectory. In the early 1980s, participation in such activities was measured at 65% for low-income high school seniors and 73% for their wealthier counterparts. A decade later, the numbers shifted to 61% and 75%, respectively. By 2004, extracurricular participation rates for low-income seniors were down to 56%.

  • BYO Band-Aids

    150831_BTS_Trends_BandAids
    Shutterstock

    It’s not your imagination. Schools really are asking parents to buy more supplies to keep their kids’ classrooms stocked with the basics—everything from tissues to copy paper to Band-Aids. According to the annual Backpack Index from Huntington Bank, a family with three kids (one apiece in elementary, middle, and high school) can expect to pay more than $3,000 this year for school supplies and extracurricular activities. So much for the idea of a free education.

  • More and More Student Fees

    children boarding school bus
    Jamie Grill—Getty Images

    It’s not just increasing school supply lists that are pinching parents. Families are also facing new or significantly higher fees for things like riding the bus or parking a car at school, and participating in sports and other programs. Some schools simply asked students to arrive on the first day with a $50 check to serve as payment for vague “activity fees.” School districts usually cite budget cuts as the reason fees must be instituted.

  • The Lunch Lady Goes Gourmet

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    Getty Images

    Forget about Sloppy Joes. Increasingly, parents and school cafeterias are catering to the dietary restrictions and preferences of young people today, with more gluten-free, organic, and vegetarian options. The cuisine at some school cafeterias is growing increasingly sophisticated as well, serving everything from butternut squash ravioli to made-to-order smoothies, and featuring bistro-style breakfasts and carving stations.

  • Free Lunch for More Students

    150831_BTS_Trends_lunch
    Getty Images

    As of the 2012-2013 school year, 21.5 million kids in American schools received free or reduced-price lunch, as part of the federally funded National Lunch Program. In most cases, free or reduced-price lunches are provided based on the student’s household income levels falling within a certain limit. And the number of students eligible for free lunch is on the rise thanks to an increased income threshold, as well as the expansion of communities that can simply forget about the paperwork and provide free lunches to all students. When 40% of the local students qualify for free lunch, the entire school system becomes eligible, allowing vast student populations in parts of Michigan, Massachusetts, Oregon, Idaho, and beyond to get free lunch at school without any stigma, and regardless of their household income.

  • Back-to-School Spending Shrinks

    school supplies
    Getty Images—iStockphoto

    Over the past decade, back-to-school spending has increased 42%, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). So the anticipated decrease in spending this season—estimated at an average of $630 per household, down from $669 last year—is perhaps more than anything else an indication that parents are realizing they’ve gone overboard in the past.

  • More School Uniforms

    Young student; school uniforms
    Getty Images—Getty Images

    One of the more interesting trends cited by the NRF for the 2015-2016 school year is that 28% of surveyed parents say their kids wear uniforms in school. That’s the highest rate ever in the poll’s history.

  • First-Day-of-School Fashion Stress

    school children chatting in hallway
    Nancy Honey—Getty Images

    According to a survey conduced for Ebates.com, a coupon and cash-back shopping site, parents and teenagers are in agreement that the most stressful category of back-to-school shopping is clothing. In the comment section of the survey, parents lamented, “My son is so picky,” and explained that “Having to negotiate what [my daughter] can and cannot wear to school” is what makes shopping for school clothing so stressful. As for what stresses out teens about clothes shopping, the two top factors cited were “My parents can’t afford what I want” and “My parents don’t agree with what I want.” No wonder more schools are resorting to uniforms.

  • Common Core Backlash

    Standerdized test
    Tetra Images—Getty Images

    The Common Core initiative seeks consistent educational standards throughout the country. That doesn’t sound like such a bad thing. But the Common Core and the standardized tests that come along with it have come under enormous criticism from conservatives and liberals alike. Many teachers and parents aren’t fans either, largely because the one-size-fits-all approach and the narrow focus on test preparation undermines the teacher’s ability to cater lessons to individual students, potentially leaving some kids in the lurch. Movements to opt out of Common Core tests have gained traction in New York, New Jersey, California, and Colorado, among other states, and according to a recent poll, the majority (54%) of public school parents say they oppose teachers using Common Core standards to set the agenda for what they teach.

  • Bye-Bye Lockers

    150831_BTS_Trends_laptops
    Getty Images Laptops in school

    As more traditional books disappear from schools thanks to e-books and web-based learning, schools are finding that there is less need for the lockers that have lined school hallways for decades. The disappearing locker trend began several years ago and has picked up steam around the country since. And what are schools doing with the extra space once occupied by lockers? Some are installing laptop charging stations.

  • Nobody Knows How to Pay for College

    College student
    Getty Images—Getty Images

    It’s a good thing that many colleges offer heavily discounted tuition via grants, scholarships, and such. After all, the vast majority of Americans say they could not afford the full “sticker price” college tuition. According to a new poll conducted for the financial services firm Edward Jones, a whopping 83% said they couldn’t afford the full cost of college for themselves or a loved one. Even among well-off respondents earning $100,000 or more annually, only 37% said they could cover the entire cost of a college education.

TIME Food

Lawsuit Accuses Nestlé of Using Slave-Caught Fish in Fancy Feast

Fancy Feast cat food
Elise Amendola—AP Fancy Feast cat food cans are photographed in Boston on March 19, 2015.

California residents brought a class-action lawsuit

A class-action lawsuit filed by California residents claims that Nestlé purchases fish from a Thai supplier known to use slave labor—and uses that fish in Fancy Feast cat food.

The suit was brought by consumers who say they would not have bought the product if they had known it had ties to slave labor, according to Bloomberg. Their lawyer says that “By hiding this from public view, Nestlé has effectively tricked millions of consumers into supporting and encouraging slave labor on floating prisons.”

Nestlé would not comment specifically on the suit, but told Bloomberg that it was working with an NGO “to identify where and why forced labor and human rights abuses may be taking place” in the region, and that forced labor “has no place in our supply chain.”

[Bloomberg]

TIME Food & Drink

Watch These Kids Try Dark Chocolate for the First Time

See their bitter, sweet expressions

If you were not craving chocolate before reading this post, then make sure there is some nearby.

A new ad for Elite’s Splendid Chocolate, a brand from Israel, claims to show little boys and girls trying dark chocolate for the first time. Judging by their faces, it is much too bitter for them, a far cry from the chocolate they’re used to. But the whole point, of course, is to show that some day, they will grow up to love it.

Now kids, if someone gives you a piece of chocolate or anything else that you do not like, then note the proper way to respond:

 

MONEY Food & Drink

Here’s Why Starbucks Loves Pumpkin Spice Latte Customers So Much

Pumpkin Spiced Latte
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Coffee shops love you even more than you love that PSL.

Talk about a win-win. If you’ve ever wondered why major coffee outlets like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts make such a big deal about the annual arrival of pumpkin spice this and peppermint mocha that on store menus, new research provides a pretty big clue. These seasonal drinks do double duty, in that they not only boost the frequency of customer visits but also prompt customers to spend more on each “refueling” stop.

According to the industry publication Nation’s Restaurant News, the NPD Group tracked the beverage purchases at an undisclosed “major chain” last fall and winter. Customers who purchased a pumpkin spice latte spent an average of $7.81, compared with an average check of $6.67 for party poopers who ordered non-pumpkin items. There was an even bigger difference between the average check that included a white mocha purchase ($8.37), versus one that did not ($6.84).

What’s more, the NPD also conducted research correlating an increase in the frequency of visits for customers purchasing a popular seasonal shake from another unnamed “major chain” that may or may not be McDonald’s. Fans of these shakes also tended to be among the chain’s best customers. During the two months before the arrival of the seasonal shake, they made an average of 5.7 visits; once the promotional shake was on the menu, visits inched up further. Customers who didn’t purchase the seasonal shake, on the other hand, made an average of 4.7 visits during the two months prior to the limited-time offer, and 4.4 visits while the shake was available on the menu.

“These seasonal beverages have a positive impact on visit frequency,” NPD Group analyst Bonnie Riggs said. “If you can increase visit frequency by one full visit, that’s a lot of volume.”

No wonder, then, that Starbucks tries to make headlines with the announcement of when its Pumpkin Spice Latte will be back on menus (September 8 this year), and that Dunkin’ Donuts has been running a big social media campaign about the August 31 return to the menu of pumpkin-spiced products. For that matter, no wonder coffee chains and fast food franchises are constantly rolling out new limited-time offers and seasonal specialties. These items build excitement and draw in customers—who tend to spend more on each visit.

Read Next: Why McDonald’s May Start Skipping Dividends

TIME Food & Drink

10 Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Fruit

healthiest foods, health food, diet, nutrition, time.com stock, blueberries, blueberry, fruits
Danny Kim for TIME

Make fruit kabobs

Summertime means plenty of opportunities for fun. But little hands and minds need something to occupy all that free time. Why not experience the sweet, fresh fruit of summer with everyday food activities you can do with your children? It’s an easy way to pass the time and doesn’t cost extra.

Go berry picking. If you don’t have a backyard garden, look up a local U-Pick farm for a berry-picking adventure. Start now. Strawberries are in season first, then blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.​

Do a daily taste test. A taste test is one of the best ways to help children try new foods. Simply announce that you are conducting a taste test, set out the samples and watch them be gobbled up. Test different varieties of fruit and pick a winner, or try an exotic fruit with a crazy name.

Freeze leftovers for future goodies. Sometimes the harvest is a little too abundant. Decide to save some before it’s too late by washing and placing berries or cut-up pieces of fruit in freezer bags. Next time your kids are in the mood for a smoothie, it’s as easy as popping some fruit pieces in the blender. And since the fruit is frozen, it takes the place of ice cubes.

Make fruit kabobs. There’s something about food on a stick that makes eating fun for kids. Serve a wooden skewer of a single fruit or get creative. Create an image with a plateful of fruit kabobs. How? Make an American flag by arranging skewers of alternating strawberries and bananas for the stripes and top a few of the skewers with blueberries for the stars section.

Make homemade fruit soda. A no-soda household is a great start to a healthy food environment. But there is nothing wrong with mixing up some homemade soda for a summer treat. You can make a simple soda by mixing equal parts of fruit juice with soda water, club soda or sparkling water. Turn sour lemons and limes into soda by mixing ¼ cup lemon or lime juice with 3 tablespoons sugar first, then adding a cup of soda water.

Visit a fruit tree. If you don’t have a fruit tree in your yard, maybe you can visit a neighbor who does or a local orchard. Seeing fruit grow on trees helps little ones understand how real food grows.

Make a summer fruit mural. As you enjoy the latest fruit in season, have your little one draw or paint a picture of it. Display the growing line of color as the summer progresses. You might even make it from red berries to peachy peaches and on to orange pumpkins!

Use fruit as a natural flavor and color. Many foods in the grocery store come pre-made, meaning they are pre-flavored, pre-colored and pre-sweetened. You can do the same thing at home while having fun and limiting the not-so-good ingredients you have to settle for when buying processed foods. Use the juice of berries or cherries to color yogurt, ice cream or milk. Add cut up whole fruit to add the flavor and you’ve got an easy, healthy snack.

Create fruit art. For a classic still life, set out bowls of peaches, berries or just a slice of watermelon for water color inspiration. If you find yourself with peaches or small melons that are past their fresh date, dip in paint and use for stamping before they go in the garbage.

Inspect the seeds. It might be tough to get them to grow (trying can be fun, though!) but don’t just throw away the fruit seeds. Take the chance to inspect the type and size of seeds in summer fruits you eat. Strawberries have tiny seed specks that end up in your tummy, mid-summer fruits like peaches and plums have bigger stone-like seeds, and then you’ve got the spit-able seeds of watermelons.

This article originally appeared on Cozi

This article was written by Kati Chevaux for Cozi, a Time Inc. company. Cozi is the leading family organizing app that makes it simple to keep track of everyone’s schedules, shopping lists and to dos. Information is updated in real time and shared with each member of the family, so everyone is always on the same page. Get the Cozi app (it’s free!) at cozi.com or search for Cozi in your favorite app store.

More from Cozi:

MONEY groceries

This Is How Much More You’ll Spend at Whole Foods vs. Trader Joe’s

An employee bags groceries for customers at a Whole Foods Market Inc. store in Oakland, California, U.S., on Wednesday, May 6, 2015.
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Unless you're living on frozen peas.

When it comes to bourgeoisie supermarkets, stereotypes abound. The regular Whole Foods shopper is obsessed with kale, yoga, and SoulCycle, and “Whole Paycheck” does not, in fact, cost anywhere close to his or her whole paycheck. Trader Joe’s, on the other hand, is for the hipster shopper who’s bougie but broke.

But what about the reality: Is Whole Foods really that much more expensive than Trader Joe’s?

According to a staff writer at SFGate who recently did a cost comparison of popular items, yes. A trip to the store rounding up 30 standard supermarket items will cost you about 20% more—$133.18 as opposed to $109.27—at Whole Foods than it will at Trader Joe’s. This isn’t an exact apples-to-apples comparison because each store has its own brands, but you get the idea.

Previous shopping experiments have yielded similar results. A price comparison of 20 items conducted by Cheapism found that 14 of the 20 items were cheaper at Trader Joe’s than Whole Foods; a DCist comparison shopping excursion found that a bag of quinoa was half the price at Trader Joe’s, and a gluten-free cheese pizza was only two-thirds of the price.

As Business Insider explains it, Trader Joe’s is able to undercut Whole Foods (and other supermarkets) by selling in-house products rather than brands, and by sticking to an efficient “no frills” interior in small stores. The strategy reportedly earns Trader Joe’s twice the sales per square foot, and a clientele that views its products as high quality at bargain prices.

Still, while Whole Foods tends to be more expensive on average (“sometimes because the product is of a high-quality or carries Non-GMO Project verification and sometimes for no apparent reason,” as SFGate pointed out), there were a number of items on the reporter’s list that were priced almost identically at the two stores. Namely, 100% Florida Orange Juice, low-fat organic yogurt, apple sauce, flour, almond butter, Hell or High Watermelon beer, and Clif Bars. What’s more, a basic pack of frozen organic peas was actually more expensive at Trader Joe’s.

In the past year Whole Foods strategically cut prices on some items, and launched a new “values matter” slogan to appeal to consumers who have grown weary of its high prices. Whole Foods is also launching a new low-price supermarket model called 365. So one can be hopeful that the list of more affordable items at Whole Foods-owned stores may grow.

For the time being, shop where you will—but we’d recommend against splurges of the asparagus water variety.

 

MONEY Food & Drink

Pasta-Loving Entrepreneur Shares His Secret Sauce for Success

Sauces 'N Love is a maker and marketer of premium pasta sauces and gluten free pasta.

Sauces ‘N Love cooks in 1,500-lb. batches, but Paolo Volpati-Kedra, founder and CEO, says the company cooks its pasta sauces the same way he would in his kitchen at home. Volpati-Kedra moved to America from Italy in 1993 on a student budget and couldn’t afford anything more than pasta. His friends loved his sauce experiments and suggested he sell them, so he did. Sauces ‘N Love, which now employs more than 30 people, just won an award for Best Pasta Sauce of the Year for its Pumpkin & Kale Alfredo sauce.

Read next: This Business That Does Nothing But Give Away Free Stuff

TIME Food & Drink

Watch American Kids Try School Lunches From Around the World

"My nose says it wouldn't be so good"

American kids aren’t exactly the most adventurous eaters, as we learned from this new clip from Cut Video, which features seven kids testing out typical school lunches from India, Sweden, Japan, Cuba, France, Kenya and Afghanistan.

The kids are often grossed out by the unfamiliar dishes, offering commentary like “Isn’t plaintain, like, something you rub against?” and “I am definitely not eating this every day. Man, this is gross. I am out of here. Straight to the toilet.”

Many of them do, however, appreciate some of the dishes, like the High Energy Biscuit from Afghanistan and the stew from Kenya.

But when testing out a Japanese dish, one kid pretty much summed it all up: “I like pizza way better.”

MONEY Food & Drink

You Could be Entitled to a $25 Check — or $50 in Tuna

Starkist is on the hook for under-filling cans of tuna.

If you come across a headline about class-action lawsuit over tuna, the first thought you might have is Oh no, what was I eating if it wasn’t tuna?

But you can relax. Filed two-and-a-half years ago, the suit was launched when one consumer noticed five-ounce cans of Starkist were slightly under-filled. While the short-changing wasn’t noticeable to most people, it saved the company a ton of fish (and money). However, the fishy practice has backfired.

Consumerist reports that the case has just been settled. If you’re a resident of the U.S. who bought Starkist Chunk Lite Tuna or Solid White tuna (either in oil or water) between Feb. 19, 2009, and Oct. 31, 2014, you’re entitled to a payout of $25 cash — or $50 in tuna if you prefer. Consumers can get the payout even if they don’t have receipts, which surely very few people have at this point.

The news comes on the heels of accusations of colluding to fix prices among tuna brands, rounding out a very poor month for Starkist.

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