Like any good superhero, meat, poultry and seafood processors have evolved with the times, embracing consumer demand and flexing their powers to become bigger and bolder than ever.

Read on to find out how the basic hot dog transformed into a gluten-free kind, how pork can be cooked in the oven while still in its packaging (gasp!) and how simple seafood dishes feature exotic flavor profiles.

Small, lean and dog gone powerful. Applegate, Bridgewater, N.J., is giving the fair-favorite corn dog a makeover. Applegate Natural gluten-free corn dogs now feature fewer calories, less fat and sodium and no gluten, and are encased in an all-natural beef hot dog with a sweet crust made of corn meal, corn and rice flour. Plus, they boast just 180 calories, 8 grams of fat and 410 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Odom’s Tennessee Pride, Madison, Tenn., expanded its snack-sized product line from the breakfast category into the snack and lunch sections of supermarkets with new Premium Minis Hot Dogs and Buns. Made from premium cuts of pork and beef, these minis are half the size of regular hot dogs, come in a soft bun and are individually wrapped in microwaveable, easy-open packages.

The Ball Park brand, owned by Hillshire Brands, Chicago, added two new lean hot dogs to its product portfolio. Ball Park Lean Pork Franks and Lean Beef Franks meet USDA Lean requirements, are made with 100% beef and 100% pork and contain no artificial colors, flavors or by-products.

Kraft Foods announced new hot dog innovations for its Oscar Mayer brand, one being the Bacon Dog, a hot dog packed with bacon flavor. Oscar Mayer also added to its line of Selects hot dogs with the new Chicken Breast Hot Dog, which is made with high-quality chicken breast, contains no added hormones and is completely gluten-free. Lastly, Oscar Mayer re-branded its 98% Fat Free Wieners and Light Beef Franks as Extra Lean Franks and Lean Beef Franks, respectively. The new Lean and Extra Lean Franks are full bun length, and include lean cuts of quality meat.

Farmland Foods and Boulevard Brewing Co., both of Kansas City, Mo., introduced Boulevard Pale Ale and Unfiltered Wheat Beer Brats. Made with high-quality USDA-inspected cuts of domestic pork and Boulevard’s two most popular brews—Pale Ale and Unfiltered Wheat Beer—the brats contain natural antioxidants and no MSG. 

Dinner in the bag—or tray. Farmland Foods introduced Oven Perfect Fresh Pork, voted No. 1 in Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ Top 5 Readers’ Choice Best New Products.

Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., the Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based beef and pork subsidiary of Tyson Foods, Inc., has dinner all wrapped up with its new marinated pork product—Pork Shoulder for Carnitas. This lean, pre-seasoned pork is packaged in a ready-to-go, cook in bag with easy instructions; consumers simply place the cook in bag in a slow cooker or regular oven.

Foster Farms, Livingston, Calif., introduced Oven Ready Entrées, fresh chicken breasts combined with Chile Verde, Roasted Red Pepper, Buffalo, Zesty Thai or Honey Roasted Garlic sauces. Each package contains two all-natural, American Humane Certified, 99% fat-free fresh chicken breasts in a recyclable, oven-safe tray that requires just a simple slit in the film prior to being placed in the oven for 30 minutes.

Cockadoodle doo. Chicago-based Best Chicago Meat Co., LLC launched four new chicken products to its Moo & Oink family—Breaded Chicken Tenderloin Fritters, Spicy Breaded Chicken Tenderloin Fritters, Breaded Chicken Breast Nugget Fritters and Breaded Chicken Breast Patties. The breaded tenders, nuggets and patties are made with premium, all-white meat and can be deep fried or oven-cooked. Best Chicago Meat also brought back Chitterlings, pig intestines that are double-washed, packed in water and then frozen. They are prepared by cleaning and rinsing, then boiling or stewing for several hours.

NatureRaised Foods, a Wilkesboro, N.C., division of Tyson Foods, expanded its NatureRaised Farms brand with a line of frozen chicken raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones and fed a 100% vegetarian diet. The line extension includes Gluten Free Grilled Chicken Breast Fillets, Gluten Free Grilled Chicken Breast Strips, Whole Grain Chicken Breast Nuggets and Southern Style Crispy Chicken Strips, all in 12-ounce packages.

Spider-ham. Vege USA, LLC, Monrovia, Calif., unveiled a Vegan Ham Roll with a Spiced Plum and Apricot Glaze Sauce. Sold under the Vegetarian Plus brand, this vegetarian option is made with all-natural ingredients and non-GMO soy, is free of cholesterol and contains only 7 grams of fat per serving. It is also fully cooked, bakes in about an hour, slices gracefully and can be served warm or cold.

Farmland Foods introduced Cook’s Everyday Cuts, a new line of portable meats carved from Cook’s whole bone-in hams. Everyday Cuts are pre-cooked for quick preparation in the oven, on the stove or on the grill and come in a wide variety of cuts such as ham medallions, ham steaks, ham chops, mini hams, breakfast-sliced smoked ham and smoked pork chops, which can be seasoned, glazed and/or grilled.

Boar’s Head Brand, Sarasota, Fla., launched new Spiral Sliced Applewood Smoked Boneless Ham. Handcrafted using only pure, whole muscle pork, this boneless, smoked, extra lean ham comes spiral sliced and fully cooked—just heat and serve.

Sausage-man. Philadelphia-based Dietz & Watson expanded its Premium Meats & Cheese brand to now include six all-natural chicken sausage varieties, including Buffalo Style, Jamaican Jerk, Asiago & Spinach, Tomatillo Salsa Santa Fe Style, Andouille and Oktoberfest Black Forest Chicken Brats. Made from fresh, never frozen chicken and using Old World family recipes prepared in small batches, these fully cooked, 100% pork-free sausages contain no fillers, extenders or MSG and are certified gluten-free by the Celiac Sprue Association.

Tofurky, Hood River, Ore., ventured further into the gourmet foods category with the introduction of Tofurky Artisan Sausages, available in Chick’n & Apple Sausage (made with Hood River apples), Andouille Sausage and Spinach Pesto Sausage. Created for vegans and health-conscious, non-vegetarian sausage devotees, these non-GMO, artisan sausages are handcrafted in small batches with veggies, herbs and whole grains.

Glory Foods, Columbus, Ohio, and Monogram Food Solutions, Memphis, Tenn., paired up to introduce new Southern-style meat products—Smoked Sausage and Cocktail Links. The Cocktail Links come pre-cooked in Original and Spicy Red Hot varieties, while the Smoked Sausage comes in Hot Smoked and Original Smoked options.

Chicago-based Hillshire Brands Co. developed Hillshire Farm Angus Smoked Sausage, which consists of high-quality, premium cuts of beef available in Smoked, Polska Kielbasa and Italian Style varieties.

John Morrell Food Group, Lisle, Ill., introduced new lower-sodium smoked sausage. Sold under the Eckrich brand, these sausages deliver 33% less sodium as compared to USDA data for smoked sausage.

Butterball, Kings Mountain, N.C., launched Butterball Recipe Starters Turkey Dinner Sausage links, available in Wisconsin Cheddar and Hot and Spicy Red Pepper varieties in a 12-ounce package.

Available only through Labor Day are two new smoked-cooked sausage varieties—Pepper Jack Cheese and Mushroom & Swiss Cheese—from Johnsonville Sausage, LLC, Sheboygan Falls, Wis.

Grilling greats. Adding to its array of gourmet burger options are new griller varieties from Johnsonville Sausage. Crafted with premium cuts of fresh pork and unique blends of herbs and spices, they come in Cheddar Cheese & Bacon and Swiss Cheese & Mushroom varieties.

Bubba Burger, Jacksonville, Fla., went back to its roots in grocery store freezercases with Bubba Grillers, center-cut pork loin chops, hot Italian sausage, mild Italian sausage and bratwurst, and a steak line that includes a beef sirloin filet wrapped in applewood bacon.

Denver-based QRUNCH Foods introduced gluten-free QRUNCH burgers, made exclusively from whole, certified gluten-free, organic and non-GMO ingredients, including spinach, broccoli, carrots, garlic, onion, millet and quinoa. They come in Original, Spicy Italian, Sweet Curry and Green Chile varieties.

Chez Marie, Anaheim, Calif., unveiled new Hearty Hemp Seed veggie patties, a non-GMO project-verified, gluten-free, corn-free and soy-free product that features organic long grain brown rice, gluten-free oats, hemp seeds, flax seeds and organic coconut sugar.

Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., developed MorningStar Farms Mediterranean Chickpea vegetarian burgers, a meat alternative that’s made with simple, familiar ingredients such as chickpeas, garlic, red onion and spinach. The burgers offer 110 calories and 70% less fat than a regular burger and are a good source of protein.

Ground beef to the rescue. NBO3 Technologies, Manhattan, Kan., and Kansas State University created GreatO Premium Ground Beef, what is said to be the first and only USDA-labeled ground beef product naturally abundant in Omega-3 fatty acids. The cattle are raised on a diet naturally rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as healthy oilseeds and other natural whole grains high in protein.

The deli meat daredevils. Canada-based Piller’s Fine Foods offers Piller’s Simply Free, a new line of natural, gluten-free and allergen-free sliced meats, wieners, meat snacks, sausage, ham and smoked breakfast ham.

Hayward, Calif.-based Columbus Foods launched Farm to Fork Naturals, a line of premium specialty meats that are minimally processed with no added nitrites or nitrates, and made from hogs and turkeys humanely raised on family farms. The line includes Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, Honey Roasted Turkey Breast, Smoked Turkey Breast—all made from whole turkey breasts, lightly seasoned and slow-roasted to perfection—and Uncured Fennel Salame, Uncured Genoa Salame, Uncured Italian Dry Salame and Uncured Sopressata Salame—all made with 100% pork.

New to the Oscar Mayer brand of deli meats are Jalapeño and Bacon bolognas.

Mundelein, Ill.-based Alef Sausage Co. added a new line of all-natural salami selections, including Summer Sausage (uncured dry salami made with beef, pork and freshly ground, all-natural spices), Dry Turkey (uncured dry salami made with freshly ground spices), Old-Fashioned Dry Salami (uncured dry salami made with beef, pork and freshly ground, all-natural spices) and Dry Beef Salami (uncured dry salami made with beef and freshly ground spices).

Butterball also developed new deli meats, available in Maple Honey, Smoky Chipotle and Herb Roasted varieties.

Meatless alternative. Beyond Meat, the Los Angeles-based maker of plant-based protein foods that take the animal out of meat, rolled out Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips, offering consumers a plant protein that is said to be the most realistic chicken substitute on the market. Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips are made with a blend of pea and soy protein offering consumers 20 grams of protein and 120 calories per 3-ounce serving. Plus, these plant-based strips come in Southwest, Lightly Seasoned and Grilled varieties.

Seafood saves the day. Canada-based Clearwater Seafoods, LP launched garlic cream Scallops & Sauce, an MSC-certified product that consists of garlic cream-enrobed scallops. Each Clearwater wild-caught and fresh-frozen scallop is enrobed in a premium garlic cream sauce to create a perfectly-coated scallop that goes from frozen to finished in as little as six minutes. Just toss them in a pan, stir and serve, or prepare in the microwave.

Bumble Bee Foods, LLC, San Diego, Calif., introduced Wild Selections, a high-quality branded line of albacore and light-meat tuna products certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The evolution of a superhero is only as big as the bold products that come out of it. And, today’s new food products are flexing their powers to become bigger and bolder than ever.

 To learn more about these and other new meat, poultry and seafood items, go to