Chocolate french fries with that burger? PITTSBURGH -- First it was green ketchup. Then purple. Now, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the market, Heinz has another jaw-dropping surprise. Chocolate fries with your hamburger? Beginning in May, H.J. Heinz Company will start shipping out a new line of Ore-Ida frozen potato products called ``Funky Fries'' featuring five new shapes, colors and flavors, all intended to give kids even more say over their parents' grocery store lists. The new products range from ``Crunchy Rings'' - Tater Tots with a hole in the middle - and french fries flavored with sour cream and chives to cinnamon-and-sugar ``Cinna-Stiks.'' Another variety is ``Kool Blue,'' a french fry which happens to be sky blue in color. Then there are those brown, chocolatey ``Cocoa Crispers,'' designed, says Heinz ``for kids with a sweet tooth.'' Really? The company was reaching out to kids already through the course of normal market research, said John Carroll, managing director of North American potatoes and snacks for Heinz' frozen food division. ``We asked the kids what would make them want to eat more french fries,'' he said. Pittsburgh-based Heinz started a year ago with 50-odd ideas (one that was rejected was Fruit Loops-flavored fries, says Carroll) and pared them, through extensive research and testing, down to five. ``You'd put them out at a lab session and they'd be gone,'' Carroll said. In 2000, Heinz tinkered with its ketchup, coming out with ``Blastin' Green'' in a plastic squeeze bottle which lets kids color their food with precision, and the company couldn't keep it on supermarket shelves. In 2000, it followed up with purple ketchup. Carroll said the idea for ``Funky Fries'' was developed as the multicolored EZ Squirt ketchups were taking shape. If there were any doubts about the direction Heinz was taking before purple and green ketchup, said Leonard Teitelbaum, an analyst with Merrill Lynch, they're gone now. ``If you know your target market and can make the product fun and interesting, your chances of success at least initially are pretty good,'' he said. ``Heinz proved it once. They should be able to prove it again.'' Heinz already dominates the frozen potato product market, getting 54 cents for every dollar in sales in the sector last year, Teitelbaum said. Excluding Wal-Mart, it moved $464 million worth of frozen potatoes, fries and hash browns at grocery stores, drug stores and mass merchants in 2001. © Copyright 2002 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.