Lake Champlain Chocolates is a Vermont chocolate company that exhibited at the Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C. The company recently collaborated with rock band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals to craft a spicy chocolate bar, Grace Under Fire. I talked to Meghan Fitzpatrick, marketing director for Lake Champlain Chocolates, about blogging, chocolate trends and the collaboration.

What kinds of items are doing well with consumers?

Smaller packages are most popular with consumers at the moment — affordable luxuries for everyday and gifting opportunities. Dark chocolate remains popular, as does salty and sweet, and sweet and spicy.

What is the collaboration with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals? What has customer response been like to the Grace Under Fire chocolate bar?

We have been thrilled with our collaboration with Grace Potter, and the customer response has reflected this as well. It is our No. 1 selling bar online and in our company-owned retail stores. (read more…)

How competition could be contributing to Quiznos’ collapse; Hooters hires a new head honcho; and fresh food is the focus of new Burger King ads.

Read about all this and more in last week’s top five most-clicked links in SmartBrief on Restaurants:

Image credit: narvikk, via iStockphoto (read more…)

Have you ever walked into a restaurant and immediately felt déjà vu? Lawyers for burger chain In-N-Out got that feeling recently when they noticed strong similarities between the look, feel and menu styling of their client’s establishments and Aberdeen, Md.-based Grab-N-Go.

Eater and Huffington Post both reported on the lawsuit that In-N-Out’s lawyers filed against Grab-N-Go, as well as a similar case the company filed last month against Boise-based Burger Express. In both cases, In-N-Out claims the other guys’ logos and menus imitate its own much too closely, and the chain wants permanent injunctions making the other eateries change their looks.

Trade dress conflicts are different from trademark infringement cases, in which companies protect a specific word or phrase that has or will come to represent the company in the eyes of the public. Trade dress claims are less concrete, encompassing everything from the cuisine and names of the dishes to the menu font, furniture color and background music. (read more…)

This blog series is brought to you by FohBoh Inc., the cutting-edge social Web technology company for the $1.2 trillion foodservice industry. This series will focus on the social media side of Franchise Appreciation Day, featuring thought leaders from Domino’s, KFC and California Tortilla.

How do you get your franchisees on board with your chain’s quest to be transparent and listen to customers? For Domino’s, investing in a digital billboard in the heart of New York’s Times Square to display customer feedback was just another part of its new recipe.

Over the past couple of years, Domino’s has made a huge push to get customers to give the pizza company feedback so it can improve its pizza and delivery service. Those efforts have paid off tremendously, says Gene Galindo, marketing director of 53 locations in Wilmington, N.C., and Charleston, S.C. “We want to know if there are issues, and social media gives us a chance to make things right. (read more…)