CARMEL, Ind. -- O'Malia Food Markets here has introduced ginseng muffins and two varieties of ginseng bread in its in-store bakeries.
"We worked hard on the formulations to come up with a product that tastes really good," said Ron Williams, director of bakery operations for seven-unit O'Malia Food Markets and O'Malia Bakery, the company's wholesale production operation.
"People usually associate ginseng with ginseng tea and think of it as bitter, but that's not true of these. A combination of fruits as an ingredient makes them flavorful," he said.
"We're not making any health claims for our muffins and breads, but we do know that people are becoming aware of ginseng," Williams added.
Ginseng, an herb long said to have a variety of medicinal qualities, has more recently gained favor among consumers as an energy booster, and has burst out of the bounds of health food stores. Even a popular brand of bottled ice tea recently added a ginseng variety.
Both the muffins and the two breads -- a sweet bread and a cinnamon flavored one -- contain 30% fruit, a mixture of several varieties of fruit. The precise formulations are a secret, Williams said.
For the muffins, O'Malia uses six different fruits for flavoring. "Some people think they taste like pineapple, others say they detect an orange taste, but the flavor really is unique," Williams said.
The muffins are packed in a four-count dome package, and retail at four for $3.99. The breads, baked as 16-ounce round loaves, are $2.99 each. Each loaf of bread contains 2,250 mg of ground ginseng, and each muffin contains 500 mg.