How thin it is!

Thin is unavoidably in

Mr. Tidbit has no idea how these things get started, but what was until comparatively recently a sprinkling of “thin” cookies and crackers is now an avalanche. The inflection point might have been the

first of the very successful Oreo Thins two years ago.  Here are four new thin products that are either completely new lines or significant additions to lines established not all that long ago:


From the thin farm

Pepperidge Farm, whose Farmhouse brand was until now only a line of bread, introduces three kinds of Farmhouse Thin & Crispy cookies: milk chocolate chip, dark chocolate chip and triple chocolate chip. As is true with many things in life, Mr. Tidbit is baffled by the fact that they became a separate line, instead of joining the long list of Pepperidge Farm cookies named after cities.  Nothing on the package of dark chocolate chip Farmhouse cookies that Mr. Tidbit bought suggests how “farmhouse” has anything to do with thin — or with crispy, for that matter.


Putting on more Ritz

Mr. Tidbit would have said that the several flavors of Ritz Toasted Chips satisfied any need for a crisper Ritz cracker. Of course, he was wrong. Now there’s a second line of Ritzes sold in bags: Ritz Crisp & Thins, which are more like potato chips than they are like the Ritz Toasted Chips — or than they are like what might be called plain-old  Nice & Thick original Ritzes. The varieties of Ritz Crisp & Thins at the moment are sea salt, bacon, cream cheese & onion and salt & vinegar.


Thin and glutenless


Archway’s Cookie Thins line (cinnamon sugar and brown sugar oatmeal) just got a significant addition: gluten-free sugar cookie. Mr. Tidbit usually stays away from discussing how much he likes or hates a new product, as that’s a matter of taste. But he feels that it’s worth noting that he wouldn’t have guessed this to be a gluten-free product.




Mondelez has doubled the number of varieties of Chips Ahoy! Thins. The first two — original and cinnamon sugar — are joined by oatmeal and double chocolate. (As always, Mr. Tidbit rushes to note that the exclamation point is part of the name, not an indication of his level of enthusiasm).









A new savory side dish (how sweet it isn’t)

oatmealOnion oatmeal?

For today’s excursion into the peculiar, Mr. Tidbit will depart from his normal practice, and not discuss an odd new foodstuff fresh from the laboratories of some giant grocery firm.

Instead he will discuss an odd new foodstuff fresh from his own kitchen.

Let Mr. Tidbit Be clear: He is not claiming that he is the first person to have had the remarkable insight that led to this new comestible — only that he did have it, perhaps along with hundreds or maybe millions of nameless cooks throughout recorded time.

And here it is: A serving of oatmeal (the kind that comes in the big cardboard cylinder, not the instant kind that comes in little envelopes) can be made, according to the instructions, with half a cup of oatmeal and a cup of either water or milk. Standing at his kitchen counter one recent day, about to prepare some oatmeal, Mr. Tidbit glanced at that instruction and – realizing that there are many more edible liquids than water and milk – wondered whether oatmeal could be prepared with any of those other liquids.

It should not surprise you, dear reader, that the answer is yes. Mr. Tidbit is not mean enough to drag you through all that introduction only to say that you can’t use another liquid to make oatmeal.

For example, you can prepare oatmeal with canned soup. For a single generous serving, half a cup of 1-minute or old-fashioned oatmeal and a cup of soup. And — depending on what soup you try and your own tastebuds – the resulting savory oatmeal can be pretty darn good.

That it can be that tasty, and that there’s such a wide range of potentially interesting flavors, led Mr. Tidbit to realize immediately that he had produced not a breakfast food, but rather a side dish — perhaps a flavorful substitute for mashed potatoes or rice.

His first experiment was with beef consommé (it comes condensed, so he used half a cup of soup and half a cup of water). He microwaved it (a little longer than the oatmeal instructions suggest, to produce a more substantial texture), and it was great! (And it was an inspired guess, as it remains one of Mr. Tidbit’s favorites.)

Experiments with more soups yielded some insights: Soups with lots of solids (bean with bacon, for example), aren’t very successful. And noodles or other pasta need to be strained out, because they contain lots of extra liquid, which causes the oatmeal to take much longer to cook.

But what turned out to offer the widest selection of interesting flavors was packaged sauce, gravy and marinade mixes, which hadn’t even occurred to Mr. Tidbit at first. For the single generous serving, stir a cup of water (a little at a time at first) into a teaspoon to a tablespoon of the mix (trial-and-error is involved here: Some mixes are more assertive than others). Add the oatmeal, stir, microwave and stir again afterward.

The results range from subtle and complex (béarnaise sauce is a nice one) to piquant (garlic, herb and wine marinade, for example) to spicy (chili mix).

Mr. Tidbit has taken to having a bowl of savory oatmeal as a mid-afternoon snack. In that situation, with no competing flavors from other meal components, he has been pleased to find that almost anything works. Among his favorites, besides consommé, are sausage gravy mix, sweet onion (sold as a burger mix-in) and leftover pho from the Saigon Uptown restaurant in Minneapolis. With the noodles strained out.

Cheesecake and augmented yogurt revisited




Who doesn’t like a little cheesecake?

In discussing the new Sara Lee individual (undersized) slice of frozen cheesecake a few weeks ago, Mr. Tidbit was pressed for space or electrons or bandwidth or something and so didn’t mention any of the previous small cheesecake and cheesecake-like items that he has nodded to as they came and went, stretching back as far as 1997’s refrigerated Jell-O Cheesecake Snacks (pudding tubs of a cheesecakey substance “made with Philadelphia cream cheese” and topped with a strawberry substance), to the more recently departed Jell-O Temptations (a similar description applies, without mention of Philadelphia).

Mr. Tidbit didn’t even think of citing Jell-O’s long-standing No Bake Cheesecake mix, which also makes no claim to Philadelphiality but does include a graham-cracker crust. And if you look hard, you can find the current version of the 1997 item: It’s Jell-O Strawberry Cheesecake Cheesecake Snacks (yes, two “cheesecakes” in a row: It’s the strawberry cheesecake flavor — and apparently the only flavor — of Jell-O cheesecake snacks — and is also marked “original”), but there’s no mention of name-brand cream cheese. (Must Mr. Tidbit point out that both Philadelphia cream cheese and all the various kinds of Jell-O are products of Kraft — now Kraft-Heinz?)


Mr. Tidbit feels justified in mentioning all that in order to properly frame what he believes to be the latest entry: Philadelphia Cheesecake (no mention of Jell-O), a refrigerated tub of cheesecakey substance, attached to which is a smaller tub of strawberry substance you get to spoon on top yourself, totaling 3.25 ounces and sold in (6.5-ounce) two-packs for $3.99 (61 cents an ounce). At the same store, the frozen 2.5-ounce Sara Lee slice was $1.99 (72 cents an ounce). At Walmart, the four-pack of 3 1/2-ounce tubs of Jell-O Strawberry Cheesecake Cheesecake Snacks was $1.98 (14 cents an ounce).

A dipper, not a mixer


Mr. Tidbit didn’t mean to slight General Mills’ Yoplait brand recently when he discussed Fage Crossovers and Chobani Flips, tubs of yogurt with a sidecar of mix-ins, totaling 5.3 ounces. Yoplait Dippers, which he believes are at least relatively new, are a little different: They are tubs of yogurt with, under a domed cover, substantial items to dip in it, totaling just 4.6 ounces. There are a mere six choices, example: Toasted Coconut yogurt with Honey Oat Crisps — which Mr. Tidbit would call little cookies.


A breakfast biscuit not to be snickered at



Sons of a biscuit

New from BelVita, the outfit that Mr. Tidbit believes first used the term “breakfast biscuit,” are four kinds of breakfast biscuit sandwiches. Each sandwich is two crunchy breakfast biscuits, held together by one of these fillings: peanut butter, Dark Chocolate Creme, Vanilla Yogurt Creme or Strawberry Yogurt Creme. The four sandwich offerings add to 12 other BelVita biscuits: five flavors of crunchy (the original breakfast biscuits), five soft-baked and two Bites (mini biscuits).

In every case there are five individually wrapped 50-gram servings in a box. That 50–gram serving is four crunchy or soft-baked biscuits, two sandwich biscuits or a handful of biscuit Bites. Mr. Tidbit notes that the crunchy biscuits that make up the sandwiches are significantly smaller than the “original” crunchy biscuits (that’s how you pay for the filling).

In his tireless search for Truth, Mr. Tidbit discovered three other BelVita items being sold in England: Tops (single rimmed biscuits topped by strawberry or “choco-hazelnuts” filling), Yogurt Crunch (biscuit sandwiches — original or cocoa biscuits with “creamy live yogurt filling”) and Duo Crunch (biscuit sandwiches with “live yogurt filling” and strawberry or apricot filling. Any or all might show up here any minute now.


What’s in a Snickers?


Speaking of groceries that showed up elsewhere first, Mr. Tidbit has learned that the newish Snickers & Hazelnut bar was already a standard item in several countries, including Australia and Poland.

You might assume that each of the now several Snickers variations has the ingredients of the regular Snickers bar plus the item in the name. If you foolishly made that assumption, you were incorrect. Here, according to Mr. Tidbit’s best efforts, are what he believes to be the contents of various Snickers bars:

Regular Snickers: milk chocolate, peanuts, caramel, nougat; Snickers Almond: milk chocolate, almonds, caramel, nougat — no peanuts; Snickers Crisper: milk chocolate, crisp rice, caramel, peanuts — no nougat; Snickers Rockin’ Nut Road: Dark chocolate, almonds, caramel, marshmallow-flavored nougat — no peanuts; Snickers Peanut Butter Squared: milk chocolate, peanut butter, peanuts, caramel, nougat, Snickers & Hazelnuts: Milk chocolate, peanuts, hazelnuts, caramel, nougat.

OK, so on the last two you would have been right.