A soupçon of attention to soup cans

Soup, soup everywhere!

It has long amazed Mr, Tidbit not only that there are a zillion kinds of Campbell’s soup, but how many different lines of soup Campbell’s has managed to convince people are different styles or essences or something of similar kinds of soup.

Until very recently, Mr. Tidbit believes, there have been these many separate sets of Campbell’s soups, with distinguishing characteristics as he is able to make a stab at them:

Condensed soups: The originals (add water); red and white cans, 10.5 ounces or so.

All the rest are “ready to eat” (add no water).

Chunky soups: “The soup that eats like a meal.” Larger pieces of ingredients, red cans, 18 or 19 ounces, also 15.25-ounce microwave bowls.

  Go soups: Exotic or specific-subtype ingredients (shiitake mushrooms, poblano chilies), 14-ounce foil pouches with pictures of faces.

Home Style soups: (“The taste that takes you home.”) (Mr. Tidbit has no idea.) Some used to be called Select Harvest. About 19-ounce tan cans.

Organic soups: Organic, 17-ounce white and green brick packs.

Slow Kettle Style soups: (“Everything good takes time. That’s why we slowly simmer the perfect combination of authentic ingredients.”) (Mr. Tidbit has no idea). 15.5-ounce dark-green-label microwave bowls.

Soup on the Go: Red and white tall single-serve cups (around 11 ounces).

There are also a number of variant entries (low sodium, heart healthy, gluten free), that pop up here and there in the various lines, and Healthy Request Soups, which might be its own line but Mr. Tidbit isn’t sure, and frankly, my dear, at this point he doesn’t give a damn.

Surely that’s enough kinds of Campbell’s soup, yes?


No! Now there’s Well Yes! Soups. (“When you say yes, amazing things happen. That’s why we say yes to all the good ingredients in our soup. So go ahead, say yes — eat positively and live deliciously.”) Varicolored 16-or-so-ounce cans.

Mr. Tidbit couldn’t let “Well Yes!” go without opening a can. Compared with Chunky’s Savory Chicken with White & Wild Rice, Well Yes! Roasted Chicken with Wild Rice had less liquid, the solids were predominated by wild rice, the chicken was in small bits; Chunky had more liquid, mostly white rice and chunks of chicken. (Both liquids tasted like canned soup but different canned soups.)




Essences: Water and Girl Scouts



The essence of the label

Even if you think you’re familiar-enough with the many (13 at the moment) flavors of La Croix sparkling water, you might not be aware that there is an entire second set of flavors, apparently new although not labeled as such. It is La Croix Cúrate, and there are six versions, each of which is a pairing of two fruit flavors (as are several of the regular La Croix offerings).

For reasons that pass right by Mr. Tidbit, each of the Cúrate dual-flavor varieties is named half in one language and half in another, as in Cerise-Limón (cherry-lime). While we’re at it, Mr. Tidbit also doesn’t understand why they’re called “Cúrate,” which in English, at least (and ignoring the accented U), is a verb meaning to organize/oversee/present a collection. It also means an assistant clergyman. OK: But if somebody organized or blessed Cerise-Limón, that too passeth all Mr. Tidbit’s understanding.

But wait! Mr. Tidbit’s hasn’t gotten to the best part: While almost all of the regular La Croix varieties list the ingredients as “carbonated water, natural flavor,” all the Cúrate versions have this ingredient list: “Only carbonated water, naturally essenced.”

Mr. Tidbit is unsure of the difference between adding natural flavor to carbonated water and essencing it, but if there is any difference, he suspects that essencing is somehow dodgier than flavoring — like making chicken soup by standing over some hot water and whispering “chicken.”

Some of the regular La Croix entries also are now labeled “essenced.” Perhaps we’re in the middle of La Croix-wide conversion away from natural flavor. Your guess is as good as Mr. Tidbit’s. Essentially.



Scouting the cereal

Just in time for the annual Girl Scout Cookie drive, General Mills is offering two “sweetened whole-grain corn” Girl Scouts cereals: Thin Mints and Caramel Crunch. Both packages feature a small inset photo of the cookie in question (in the latter case it is Caramel deLites).

Although it obviously lacks the Thin Mints cookie’s chocolatey enrobing, and the corn-puff crunch is different from that of the cookie, Mr. Tidbit acknowledges that the cereal’s flavor is agreeably like that of the cookie. (It is, however, kind of an odd flavor for a cereal: It doesn’t go well with fruit.)

He finds it harder to go that far about similarity to the cookie with Caramel Crunch cereal, as Caramel deLites cookies are “tender vanilla cookies, covered with caramel, rolled in toasted coconut, and striped with a rich, chocolaty coating,” and the cereal tastes mostly of caramel. Nice, potentially breakfasty, not all that Girl Scouty.




Cherries and Cheerios




Dipped Cherries

For reasons that Mr. Tidbit can’t imagine, it is at Christmas and Valentine’s Day that we see displays of boxed “cordial cherries” — what Mr. Tidbit and many others call “chocolate-covered cherries.” Maybe they’re tied to Christmas and Valentine’s Day because the cherries are red, but they’re chocolate-covered. In any case, two brands have always been there and Mr. Tidbit will offer no comparison between the Queen Anne and Cella chocolate-covered cherries; these things are a matter of taste.

But while both offer milk-and dark-chocolate versions, Queen Anne has lately been moving into unfamiliar territory, with French Vanilla Cordial Cherries and Black Cherry Cola Cordial Cherries. Mr. Tidbit can’t help passing along this description of that latter confection, from the Queen Anne website: “Warm cola notes with a hint of citrus and spice are paired with the deep, complex notes of black cherry and enrobed in smooth milk chocolate to create a one-of-a-kind cordial.” Yow.

Anyway, that is not the path Cella has chosen to take. New, or at least new to Mr. Tidbit, are Cella Dips: cherries dipped in dark chocolate, but without the liquid/fondant that is found between the cherry and the chocolate covering in a chocolate-covered cherry. One would easily get the impression from the bag that the cherries are still on their stems. They are not. (Maybe that’s a “serving suggestion.”)

At the store where Mr. Tidbit found them, the bag of 30 was $3.99.


More and fewer Cheerios


New from General Mills are Very Berry Cheerios, “flavored with real fruit and other natural flavors.” Indeed, the ingredients list includes blueberry powder, strawberry powder, cranberry powder and raspberry powder, which might account for the little colored dots on the Cheerios (or might not, since there’s also vegetable and fruit juice color).

As displayed on the Cheerios website, there are now 13 kinds of Cheerios, including Very Berry. Two years ago there were 15 (obviously without Very Berry). Chances are that one of the three disappeared versions was your favorite.


A brief note

Today’s column is a little short, as Mr. Tidbit is busy preparing shortbread, shortcake, short ribs, littleneck clams and lo mein noodles.