Revealed: Tiny Toast is tinier than Cinnamon Toast Crunch

rsz_1tiny_toast  rsz_cinnamon_toast_crunchrsz_cereal_pieces

Tales of Tiny Toast

The latest breakfast-cereal offering from General Mills is Tiny Toast, described on the box as “mini sweetened toast-shaped cereal,” in your choice of blueberry or strawberry – or, as the box puts it, “flavored with REAL BLUEBERRIES [or REAL STRAWBERRIES] and other natural flavors.” The main ingredients of both versions are oats and corn, but the label warns that they “may contain wheat ingredients.”

The announcement heralding the arrival of Tiny Toasts was greeted with some interest in the press, as it has been 15 years since General Mills’ last successful new brand (Reese’s Puffs).

Ever skeptical, Mr. Tidbit wondered whether Tiny Toast wasn’t, in fact, merely two new flavors of one of General Mills’ mainstay offerings, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Sparing no expense in his fearless war against meaningful journalism, Mr. Tidbit invested $2.99 and $3.09, respectively, for a box of blueberry Tiny Toasts and one of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. (Actually both were on sale for $2.50 but that isn’t the point.)

He must report that they are quite different products – and that he could have saved $5 (or a theoretical $6.08) by just looking at the boxes. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is made from whole wheat and rice (not oats and corn), and – at least as significant for many folks – the shape of the individual pieces of Cinnamon Toast Crunch is quite unlike that of the pieces of Tiny Toast. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch toasts are featureless rectangles typically something like 3/4 inch on a side, and in the neighborhood of a tenth of an inch thick; those of Tiny Toast are smaller (closer to half an inch on a side) and some show little indents where a slice of bread would have them. But the Tiny Toast pieces have noticeable thickness: In fact, they are roughly twice as thick.

Desperate to find something to be cynical about, Mr. Tidbit focused the fearless Tidbits spotlight on the fruit in the Tiny Toasts (which shows up as tinier dots on the tiny toast pieces). The ingredient lists indicate that the blueberries are in the form of “blueberry powder,” while the strawberries are “dried strawberry puree.”


Ultimately still popcorn

Upon further investigation after last week’s post –…e-not-in-buffalo/  – Mr. Tidbit has learned that the Ultimate Butter flavor of Orville Redenbacher microwave popcorn hasn’t disappeared, as he suggested that it might have done, but a spokesperson said it is now available only in humongous 12-pack boxes. (Most stores stock only the three- and six-pack boxes of popcorn.) (The spokesperson didn’t say “humongous.”)

Ultimately Ritzy, but where’s Orville? Not in Buffalo

rsz_ultimate_ritz   rsz_redenbacher         rsz_tabasco

The box of popcorn isn’t Ultimate Butter flavor, because that appears to have vanished, but you get the idea.


Ultimately putting on the Ritz

Oreo parent Mondelez now gives us Ultimate Butter Ritz crackers, which (of course) like regular Ritzes contain no butter at all. What makes Ultimate Butter Ritzes so ultimately buttery? There may be other factors, but one is obvious from the ingredient lists: In addition to the natural flavor found in regular Ritzes, the “ultimates” contain artificial flavor.

They have the same shelf price, but of course the new ones are in a smaller box (11.5 ounces vs 13.7), so they cost 19 percent more per ounce.

In a side issue that Mr. Tidbit finds fascinating, not only is “ultimate butter” familiar as a flavor of Orville Redenbacher popcorn (and, it seems, no other popcorn), but the red-and-white flag-striped box of Ultimate Butter Ritz is very similar to the look of the Pop-Up Bowl on the boxes of Orville’s Ultimate Butter popcorn. Orville’s popcorn is not a Mondelez product (it’s from ConAgra), so Mr. Tidbit has to wonder what’s up.

It got more intriguing (or, depending on your point of view, even less intriguing) when Mr. Tidbit was unable to find a box of that flavor of Orville Redenbacher popcorn still on the shelves at any store.

Possibly more to come.


Shuffle on to Tabasco

Quick: How many kinds of Tabasco sauce are there? Well, yes, “several” is correct but evasive. Mr. Tidbit, if pressed (something you don’t want to see), could name six, but the other day he saw one he hadn’t known about: Buffalo style. He believes it’s newer than the others (Original, Green Jalapaño, Chipotle, Habanero, Garlic and Sweet & Spicy), but that doesn’t necessarily make it very new. He brings the product to the table today because running into it finally forced him to find out what specifically makes a spicy dish “Buffalo style.”

Mr. Tidbit freely admits he could have looked this up ages ago, but he didn’t.

As he now understands it, the key to Buffalo style dishes is that the sauce that is tossed with the fried (or baked) chicken wings, which are the original famous Buffalo item, is a combination of hot sauce and melted butter (a blue-cheese-dressing side dish is optional). So does Buffalo Style Tabasco sauce contain melted butter? No, but it is thicker than the original red sauce, so when mixed with butter it adheres better.


Yet more Oreos, and pouches of marinade

rsz_oreothins                rsz_grillmates

A thin bit of news

Mr. Tidbit feels he must acknowledge that, in his rather unenthusiastic discussion a few weeks ago of new Blueberry Pie Oreos, he failed to note that they are available only at Target. (In the throes of his unenthusiasm he hadn’t noticed their absence from other stores.) He hopes you can learn to trust him once again as your Oreo informant.

Starting with this: It’s been an entire year since the introduction of Oreo Thins (the potato chip of Oreos), but finally there are two new flavors: lemon (filling between Golden Oreo Thins wafers) and chocolate (filling between regular chocolate Oreo Thins wafers). Can Double-Stuf[[cq, one f]] Oreo Thins be far behind?

It should be noted that, unlike most recent Oreos introductions, the new flavors of Oreo Thins are not “limited editions,” so we can expect them to stick around. Mr. Tidbit feels particularly confident of that because, like the three original Oreo Thins, the packages of the new ones weigh in at just 10.1 ounces, making all five the most expensive per ounce of the entire Oreo universe. (It appears that every store sets a single shelf price for all of its Oreo varieties, including the regular Oreos in their 14.3-ounce package, all of the “limited edition” Oreos in their typical 10.7-ounce packages and the Oreo Thins at 10.1 ounces.)

To be fair, there are some standing varieties of Oreos that come in packages as large as 15.35 ounces. To be fairer still, as recently as 2010 the package of regular Oreos weighed 18 ounces (and contained 45 cookies). Since then it has been 16.6 ounces (42 cookies) and 15.25 ounces (39 cookies) before arriving at its current 14.3 ounces (36 cookies).


Aye, there’s the marinade

McCormick, the spice outfit, already made several varieties of Grill Mates dry marinade mix (add oil, water and vinegar) in approximately 1-ounce single-use foil packets, not to be confused with the several varieties of its bottled Grill Mates dry seasoning blends or the several varieties of its bottled Grill Mates rubs.

Now that you’re not confused, McCormick has added three kinds of “single use / no waste” marinades in 5-ounce foil pouches. Mr. Tidbit finds himself mightily confused about how the single-use pouch reduces waste, but maybe that’s just Mr. Tidbit.


You have to get up pretty oily to match Kraft’s label


Rather an oily claim

Mr. Tidbit freely acknowledges that he doesn’t buy lots of salad dressing, mainly because he doesn’t eat lots of salad. He does try to keep track of developments in that grocery aisle, but although new dressings are plentiful, often they are simply new flavors, not new categories.

He believes he remembers when American interest in vinaigrette was limited to speculating about the contents (vinegar plus . . .  ette?), but he knows that we are now much more sophisticated and that there are now lots of varieties of bottled vinaigrette. He thought, however, that he was detecting something substantial when he saw Kraft’s new line of Olive Oil Vinaigrettes. There are five kinds (Balsamic, Italian, Raspberry, Parmesan Pesto and Roasted Red Pepper); at one discount store all the 14-ounce bottles were $2.12 (15 cents an ounce).

Hmm. The band on the neck of each bottle reads “Made with extra virgin olive oil.” That could mean what Mr. Tidbit thought was implied by the much larger type on the main label: Kraft OLIVE OIL vinaigrettes.” Or it could mean only that among the ingredients it’s made with, one can find extra virgin olive oil.

A close look at the ingredient list reveals that in every case the ingredients of Kraft’s new Olive Oil Vinaigrettes include extra virgin olive oil, canola oil and soybean oil.


On a later visit to the same store, he noticed that among the many vinaigrettes that Kraft already provided (the five at that store were Caesar with Parmesan, Balsamic, Greek, Light Raspberry and Light Balsamic – all in 16-ounce bottles for $2.09 – just 13 cents an ounce), the Light Balsamic was made with . . . only extra-virgin olive oil.


Regional BBQ sauces

New from Heinz are five “authentic regional” BBQ sauces (in upside-down bottles that are a slightly different size for each but average around 19 ounces): Texas (“bold & spicy”), Memphis (“sweet & spicy”), Kansas City (“sweet & smoky”), and Carolina vinegar style (“tangy”). The fifth sauce – Classic (“sweet & thick”) – isn’t regional at all, but it makes up for its lack of a decent home by coming in the biggest bottle (21.4 ounces). All are $2.19 at one discount store. A four-pack sampler collection of the four regional sauces, 45.8 ounces total (so each is about half-size), is $5.58 at another discount store.