An organic offering’s surprise . . . and an admission

capri sunbreakfast flats


Organically pricy

Mr. Tidbit would be the first to acknowledge that he hasn’t paid much attention to kids’ drinks, those little beverage pouches that come in boxes of eight or ten. Actually, there are probably quite a few other folks who would acknowledge the same thing, so Mr. Tidbit might not be the first; let’s just say he acknowledges it, and move on. In any case, he just noticed the new organic version of the Capri Sun brand of these drinks, which caused him to look down the shelf and see that it brings to five the number of kinds of Capri Sun, all of which come in boxes of ten 6-ounce pouches.

There’s the original product (a “juice drink” with 10 percent juice), in 14 flavors, at one store $2.69; there’s 100 percent juice “1 1/2 servings of fruit in every pouch,” four flavors, $2.99; there’s Roarin’ Waters “flavored water beverage” with 0 percent juice – no juice at all – 6 flavors, $2.69; there’s Super V (66 percent juice) “1 combined serving of fruit and vegetables in every pouch,” three flavors, $4.39; and new organic “juice drink blend” (66 percent juice) four flavors, a startling $5.49.


Breakfast biscuit blunder

Beginning about a year ago with his puzzlement about the term “breakfast biscuit” when it first appeared (on BelVita Breakfast Biscuits from Mondelez), through increased clarity with every subsequent debut (Nature Valley Breakfast Biscuits from General Mills, Nutri-Grain Breakfast Biscuits from Kellogg) Mr. Tidbit was able to define a breakfast biscuit, by inference, as a thin, cookie-like item not sweet enough to be a cookie, a serving of which weighs 50 grams in every case. Then, when Quaker’s Oat & Yogurt Sandwich Biscuits appeared, followed by Nature Valley Biscuits, (another sandwich item) he was able to establish a second weight-class: 38 gram sandwiches without “breakfast” in the name. At the same time Kind Breakfast (nice variation: “biscuits” isn’t in the name) appeared, reconfirming the 50-gram serving rule for a non-sandwich version.

With the recent arrival of Quaker Breakfast Flats, Mr. Tidbit was preparing to report that this item’s serving of only 40 grams breaks the 50-gram rule. Checking his work, he discovered to his horror that the serving of Nutri-Grain Breakfast Biscuits doesn’t meet the 50-gram rule either. It is 40 grams. There really isn’t a 50-gram rule. There are three 50s and two 40s.

Never mind.


Name that cheese!

Cheesy sauce shuffle
  Bertolli’s Five Cheese pasta sauce isn’t a new product, but Mr. Tidbit noticed it in the supermarket because some of the jars have a flag on the front label that says “Now with Ricotta Cheese” and others don’t.
  Mr. Tidbit wanted to know which of the five cheeses had been dumped in favor of Ricotta. Little did he know that in pursuing this question he was going to learn a tiny but meaningful fact about cheese. (It is such little bonuses that on cold nights help Mr. Tidbit keep body and soul together.)
  But first: Five cheeses? Really? He would bet a nickel (he is not a betting guy) that nobody who had just tasted a four-cheese pasta sauce could tell you what cheese was added to make a five-cheese pasta sauce.
  Anyway, the ingredient label of the Ricotta version lists Romano, Parmesan, Provolone, aged Asiago and Ricotta. The other jars listed Provolone, Parmesan, Romano, aged Asiago and Fontina.
  The jars carry the same UPC code: The Ricotta version is a reformulation, not a new product. So if you’re a big Fontina fan, hurry out and snatch up all the old jars of Bertolli Five Cheese you can before they disappear under the wave of Ricotta.
  And it appears to be a significant reformulation. For example, a serving of the new version has only 7 grams of sugar, compared with 13 grams in the old, Fontina-edged recipe.
  (For what it’s worth, the Ricotta version’s label names the maker as Mizkan America, the Japanese firm that acquired the Ragu and Bertolli sauces in 2014 from R&B Foods, which is named as the maker on the Fontina jars.)
  Hang in there; Mr. Tidbit is just getting to the good part. While the new label describes three of the cheeses as “cultured part-skim milk, salt, enzymes,” the old one listed “part-skim milk, cheese cultures (from barley), salt, enzymes.” Mr., Tidbit understands that cultured milk is the same as milk and cultures.
  But barley? In cheese?
  In fact, Mr. Tidbit learned from the Internet, some cheese cultures include barley as a fermentation ingredient. Barley contains gluten and must be avoided by folks with celiac disease. For that reason, a Bertolli spokesperson told Mr. Tidbit, the cheeses are now sourced to be barley-free.
   All *&$% five of them.

Saucy business, glutenless oatiness and nuts to m&m

a.1.    rsz_3_m&ms

A.8. Sauce?

Strolling through the supermarket the other day, Mr. Tidbit noticed what seemed to him to be a surprising array of A.1. Sauce. Had you asked him, moments earlier, how many kinds of A.1. Sauce there are (and had he not detected a trap in the fact that you were asking), he would have answered “One” – or maybe, if he was being cute, “Eh? One.”

He would, of course, have been wrong. There are eight: There is Original A.1., and (Mr. Tidbit might have remembered if he had tried) Bold & Spicy, made with Tabasco Sauce. Given encouragement and a few hints, he might eventually have come up with Thick & Hearty. But there are more. He doesn’t recall knowing about Cracked Peppercorn, which apparently has been with us a while, and there are four new ones:   Sweet Hickory, made with Bulls-Eye BBQ Sauce; Sweet Chili Garlic; Spicy Chipotle, and Smoky Black Pepper.

Looking through his unfortunately vast files, he finds that this multiplicity of A.1. isn’t a new phenomenon. In 2005 he was snickering about what were then six kinds of A.1. Sauce, including Smoky Mesquite and CarbWell. (Was the low-carb bandwagon really more than 10 years ago? Time flies while you’re counting steak sauce.)


Different Bunches of Oats

That kind of expansion is peanuts (figuratively speaking) compared with that of cereal maker Post’s Honey Bunches of Oats. Not counting the two granola versions, there are now 12 kinds (and there have been at least nine others that popped up for a while but disappeared).

The newest flavor, Honey Bunches of Oats Chocolate, is significant not only for what’s in it (cocoa processed with alkali), but also – and more so – for what isn’t in it. This is the first Honey Bunches of Oats made with gluten-free oats.


m&m &m &m . . .

And speaking of peanuts – literally this time – the ever-expanding variety of m&ms now includes three flavored versions of Peanut m&ms, but the Mars folks assure us that two will not be with us long. Through mid-June you can enter a sweepstakes and vote for which one you want to become permanent: Coffee Nut, Honey Nut or Chili Nut. See or text VOTE to 87654. No purchase is necessary (nor, if you ask Mr. Tidbit, is any of the three new flavors). (Mr. Tidbit knows you didn’t ask.)


Thin is in; so is thinner

good thins    even  thinner

Thin is good

At the Nabisco-branded part of the Mondelez part of what used to be Kraft, there’s a whole bunch of new thin “snacks” called Good Thins, in eight varieties: four rice crackers, one wheat-and-chickpea cracker and three potato-and-wheat items that are rather like chips.

All eight carry what’s getting to be a familiar boast – a list of what they don’t contain. In this case, no artificial colors, no artificial flavors, no cholesterol, no partially hydrogenated oils and no high-fructose corn syrup – a list labeled “the goods.” In addition, the box of the potato varieties brags “We have 60% less fat than the leading regular fried potato chip,” the rice varieties say “We’re gluten free,” and the wheat-and-chickpea box says “We’re made with real chickpeas.” (Mr. Tidbit just hates those fake chickpeas.)


So is thinner

Not only have the Nabisco folks brought forth Good Thins (and, a while back, Oreo Thins), they’ve also taken a cracker that was already thin – Wheat Thins – and introduced a thinner version of it: Even Thinner Wheat Thins.

Ever skeptical, Mr. Tidbit dug out his micrometer and measured the thickness of five regular Wheat Thins crackers and five Even Thinner Wheat Thins. He observed that the thickness measurement of every cracker (of both kinds) was different each time he moved the micrometer around the cracker.  So he took five measurements of each cracker and calculated the average. He also underlined the thickest and thinnest measurement for each cracker.

The results were significant, although highly unimportant. The average thickness of the average Wheat Thins cracker was .088 inches; that of the Even Thinner Wheat Thins cracker was .071 inches – a 19 percent reduction in thickness.

There was a 15 percent reduction in the thickness of the average thickest part, and a 20 percent reduction in the thickness of the average thinnest part. The reduced thickness is actually noticeable as crispness when eaten; by comparison, regular Wheat Thins seem downright sturdy.

Mr. Tidbit can’t imagine how this amazing feat is possible, but producing Even Thinner Wheat Thins must be hard on the Wheat Thins squeezing machinery, because Even Thinner Wheat Thins is a limited edition.

The box of regular Wheat Thins contains 9.1 ounces; for the same price, that of Even Thinner Wheat Thins holds 8.5 ounces. Surprised?


Al Sicherman