PB HHs and more


Peanut butter takes a bow

It has long been Mr. Tidbit’s policy not to bother discussing any “new” peculiar grocery product that is merely a flavor variation of the original peculiar item. He makes a routine exception for the latest silly Oreo cookie, and for anything else that seems unusually peculiar or even significant.

Mr. Tidbit is sure that there are those who will argue that Hostess’s new Peanut Butter HoHos don’t rise to those standards, but they’re Mr. Tidbit’s standards, which he’ll edge by if he wants to, by if he wants to, by if he wants to . . . [SLAP!] [Thank you. Mr. Tidbit needed that.]

Mr. Tidbit is pretty sure that, although Hostess’s lineup of filled treats has occasionally included fillings with flavors other than “white” (the original Hostess Twinkie filling was banana-flavored), peanut butter has not before made an appearance. He finds that deeply meaningful, and he suspects that PB Twinkies, cupcakes and Ding Dongs are close at hand, and that a PB & J filling will not be far behind.



Expanding the Ranch acreage

Mr. Tidbit’s aforementioned disinclination to deal with a new product that’s just a new flavor of an existing product usually gets invoked several times on any of his trips down supermarket aisles, so when he spotted new Hidden Valley Ranch Cilantro Lime dressing, he was all set to walk past it. Then he noticed, on the shelf below that, four more kinds of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing wearing “new” tags: Buffalo, Cheddar and Bacon flavored, Sriracha and Three Herb (rosemary, oregano and basil). That’s not “just a new flavor”: It’s a naked attempt to gain shelf space.



The pile of Thins thickens

When Mr. Tidbit rounded up several new “thin” lines of cookies and crackers a month or so ago, he didn’t include THINaddictives cookies from biscotti-maker Nonni’s. That’s because somehow he hadn’t noticed them, although they would seem to be hard to miss. There are seven fairly elaborate kinds (Mango Coconut Almond is one), three of which feature a dark-chocolate drizzle.


firework oreosWhere have all the Ss gone?

As to why the Firework Oreos discussed last week aren’t Fireworks Oreos (a matter of some interest to nitpickers such as Mr. Tidbit), he can only speculate that the millions of letters-S that are being saved will turn up some day on another Nabisco product. Perhaps Chips Ahoy! Srirachas.


Pop! and feh! (Or is it meh!?)

Pop! goes the cookie

firework oreosEnough time had elapsed since Peep-flavored Oreos appeared before Easter that Mr. Tidbit began to speculate about the possible next silly Oreo flavor. Mother’s Day went by without Evening in Paris Oreos (with deep-blue filling to remind Boomers of the perfume they gave their moms way back when), and it’s already too late to sell many Old Spice Oreos for Father’s Day, but Mr. Tidbit wasn’t ready to shift his time horizon quite as far forward as would have been required to come up with a Fourth-of-July entry. It’s Firework Oreos.

At first glance, Firework Oreos seem to be regular Oreos — OK, with little dots in the otherwise regular filling. But a blaze on the front of the package explains: “WITH POPPING CANDY!” There is a slight problem: If you eat the Firework Oreo in the manner of the sophisticated adult that you imagine yourself to be — that is, in one or more bites each containing both the Oreo wafers and the filling — the very crunchy Oreo wafers almost drown out the Pop Rocks effect of small detonations in your mouth from the filling.

Mr. Tidbit is surprised to find himself giving cookie-eating advice, but if you’re going to spend an extra 33 percent (the 10.7-ounce bag is the same price as the 14.3-ounce bag of regular Oreos), somebody needs to tell you to twist them open and lick or tooth-drag the filling separately from the wafers.

You’re welcome.

Feh! go the children?

teddy soft bakes  Also new from Nabisco is a variant of Teddy Grahams: Teddy Soft Bakes. Note that it’s not Teddy Grahams Soft Bakes: Whereas the first ingredient in Teddy Grahams (which are little graham crackers shaped like Teddy Bears) is graham flour, better known as whole-grain wheat flour, the flour in Teddy Soft Bakes, which are little Teddy Bear shaped 1.06-ounce cakes (six to the box), is enriched unbleached wheat flour. Mr. Tidbit hopes your child’s nutrition plan doesn’t depend on whole grains from dessert.

Teddy xsection  More important to Mr. Tidbit is that these items are said to contain filling (chocolate or vanilla in the contrasting color bear; see illustration on box). In any degree meaningful to a small child, they do not (see cross-sectional photo). If Mr. Tidbit were a child handed this and told it was a filled cake, he would be greatly disappointed.

Adult Mr. Tidbit is just sad. Very sad.



Many were culled, few were frozen

Now that his kitchen countertop is almost clear of potential Tidbit items (because he wrote them off in the last two weeks), Mr. Tidbit realizes that he forgot to see whether there were any new items in his freezer.

There were three. He hopes you will agree that all are peculiar enough to merit immediate attention. 

Ding Dong! It’s Twinkie ice cream!


From Hostess come ice-cream versions of Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Sno Balls and Hostess Cupcakes. Mr. Tidbit was surprised to learn that, of the six offerings, only two (the Ding Dong and the Sno Ball) are what he expected: A “frozen novelty” version of the regular product filled with ice cream.

Three of the other four offerings (Twinkies, Sno Balls and Cupcakes) are flavors of ice cream (in pints and half-gallons), with inclusions of cake pieces and flavor swirls. Mr. Tidbit was unable to locate any of these, but it’s early days.

The sixth item is a second version of a frozen Twinkie: a cone “with creamy Twinkie-flavored frozen dairy deliciousness, topped with golden sponge cake crumbles.”

Yes, the cone is filled with “frozen dairy deliciousness.” Because he was careless above in his use of the term “ice cream,” in order to help visualize the products involved, Mr. Tidbit points out that Hostess refers only to the pint and half-gallon items as “ice cream.”  The Ding-Dongs, for example, are described on the box as “Vanilla frozen dairy dessert sandwiches with chocolatey coating.”


Not even pint-sized


Speaking of pints, Ben & Jerry’s now offers Pint Slices, in four popular Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors, such as Americone Dream, transformed into “dark-chocolatey” coated ice cream bars. Fair enough. But Mr. Tidbit finds the word “pint” in connection with these items pretty misleading. The original ice cream flavors come in pints (that’s 16 ounces) selling for $5.49 at one store (34 cents an ounce). The three bars in a box of Pint Slices weigh in at a total of just 10 ounces — not a pint — and sell at that store for $5.59 (56 cents an ounce).


Bunny Snacks


The four varieties of new Bunny Snacks, from Blue Bunny, are small   (2 1/2-ounce) sandwiches or bars (six to a bag) of reduced-fat ice cream, some covered in “chocolate flavored coating.” The one that called out to Mr. Tidbit is Salted Caramel Pretzel.

Frozen food-truck fare and other follies

Five brief nods and a price check

Today Mr. Tidbit continues the thankless task of ridding his kitchen counter of more than the usual number of possible Tidbit items — by giving each of them short shrift.

Not to worry, he plans to return next week to his usual practice of giving just a couple of the more peculiar items long — or at least medium — shrift.


Hot Pockets has two new sub-lines of dubious ability to inspire extra attention in much of the country: Food Truck and Food Truck Bites. Each of the varieties carries a “co-created with” note giving credit (or maybe blame) to some food truck. Example: Spicy Asian-Style Beef credits Komodo, a Los Angeles food truck with the slogan “dangerously good food.”



Sargento adds to its line of three-pack refrigerated 1 1/2-ounce [[one and a half ounce]] Balanced Breaks snacks (example: sharp Cheddar cheese with cashews and cherry-juice-infused dried cranberries). Now we have Sweet Balanced Breaks (example: Monterey Jack cheese, dried cranberries, dark chocolate chunks and banana chips), also in packs of three 1 1/2-ounce tublets.



And new from Kraft are Snack Trios (in 1 1/2-ounce oversize plastic trays). Mr. Tidbit thought they were called Trios because each tray has three compartments (example: Colby Jack cheese, dark chocolate chunks and banana chips). Turns out the single-pack he bought is typically sold in packs of three.



There’s yet another kind of Fiber One chewy bar. It’s “layered.” In the case of the Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate Layered bar, there’s the chewy base (first ingredient chicory root extract), apparently dipped in a chocolate flavored substance, then a layer of caramel, and a “dark chocolate flavored drizzle.”


New from the Philadelphia cream cheese folks at Kraft Heinz are small (2 1/2-ounce) [[two and a half ounce]] unnamed snack packs of multigrain bagel chips with one of four flavors of cream cheese dip. On Mr. Tidbit’s postal scale the bagel chips (14 whole chips plus bits and pieces) weigh 0.7 ounces, so there’s 1.8 ounces of cream cheese.   Where Mr. Tidbit found the Philadelphia snack pack, a six-ounce bag of bagel chips was $4.49; 0.7 ounces of it would cost 52 cents; 1.8 ounces of flavored soft cream cheese from a $3.29 8-ounce tub is 74 cents: Total $1.26. The snack pack was $2.49 — 98 percent more. Please don’t say you’re surprised.


Tidbit overflow


Attacking the Tidbit pile

Mr. Tidbit is suddenly aware that his collection of potential Tidbit items, normally nicely contained in a corner of his kitchen counter, has rapidly, unexplainedly and quite wildly overflowed, and is threatening to take over the entire kitchen.

And given that the flow of peculiar new food products has shown no sign of slowing, if he continues to attack the pile of them at his current rate, he will soon be forced out of his home altogether.

It’s time, Mr. Tidbit has decided, to deny most of these items the penetrating analysis for which the searing spotlight of the Tidbits column is so renowned, and to give each of them just a brief mention and move on.



New Simply Made Cookie Thins is how Keebler’s Simply Made line (promising few ingredients, the kind you’d find in your kitchen) hops on the “thin” bandwagon. (There’s almost no room.)





The new Oreo chocolate candy bar is a milk-chocolate-covered multisectioned bar, with an undescribed somewhat crunchy whitish filling that contains hazelnut paste and bits of what might be Oreo cookies. Mr. Tidbit must add his fond remembrance of Oreo ChocoStix wafer sticks, (first ingredient semisweet chocolate), which came and went 10 years ago.



Since consumers voted last year to make Coffee Nut m&ms a permanent part of the m&m constellation, [[[mars]]apparently figured OK, what else that doesn’t go with peanuts can we put out there? Thus the new Strawberry Nut m&ms, at this point only a “limited edition.”



The package of new Caramel m&ms has no such designation, so this item apparently is intended to be permanent in that firmament. Mr. Tidbit must say that the texture is unusual: the caramel isn’t just a flavor, it’s a chunk of caramel inside the thin, thin candy shell (and a bit of milk chocolate).


Keebler’s new Club Bites are tiny cracker sandwiches (cheese or peanut butter) looking very much like Ritz Bits sandwiches. In Mr. Tidbit’s view, the big departure here for Keebler isn’t that it has taken its buttery Club crackers into tininess and sandwichery. The big news is that that this version of the rectangular cracker is round.

Well, Mr. Tidbit had some trouble holding himself to the “brief mention” thing, but he did manage to dispose of five items. It’s a start.