Mocktails and wholly crackers

Mocktails genuinely pricey 

New from Ocean Spray are three flavors of Mocktails, which the label describes as “non-alcoholic premium,” to which Mr. Tidbit would add the noun “50-percent-juice drink.” While he’s at it, he’d also add the adjective “overpriced.”

That is not to say that Mr. Tidbit didn’t enjoy the Cranberry Sangria flavor, which consists principally of filtered water, juices from concentrate (cranberry, grape, apple, pineapple and orange), sugar, natural flavor and a few miscellaneous ingredients including cardamom extract. (He really liked it.) The other two flavors are Tropical Citrus Paradise and Cranberry Peach Bellini.

As to the price, Mr. Tidbit notes that although it varies from store to store, it is usually in line with other Ocean Spray beverages that are not 100 percent juice. But those come in bottles holding 60 or 64 ounces. Mocktails are in 33.8-ounce bottles — about half as much for the same price. 

Wholey what?

Snyder’s of Hanover, until recently a brand name associated only with a large variety of pretzels and pretzel-based snacks, introduces three flavors of “Wholey Cheese!” Crispy Baked Crackers. (Mr. Tidbit assures careful readers that the quotation marks, exclamation point and misspelling of ‘wholly’ — or maybe it’s a misspelling of ‘holy’ — are all in the name as it appears on the bag.)

All three flavors — mild Cheddar, smoked gouda and Swiss & black pepper — have as their first two ingredients potato starch and Cheddar cheese powder, they are all gluten-free (and peanut-free) and the fat content in a one-ounce serving is 3 1/2 grams for the Swiss & black pepper version and 5 grams for the other two. The leading brand of cheese cracker (Cheez-It) has 7 grams of fat per one-ounce serving, a fact noted on the “Wholey Cheese!” bag.

While Mr. Tidbit wasn’t looking, The Snyder’s of Hanover brand also popped up on several varieties of tortilla chips and salsa. Mr. Tidbit hadn’t noticed (until he saw “Distributed by Snyder’s-Lance” on the “Wholey Cheese!” bag) the 2010 merger of Snyder’s of Hanover and Lance (since 1913 the maker of those little peanut-butter cracker sandwiches and subsequently much more). Whether this explains Snyder’s of Hanover salsa is left to the reader, as an exercise.



Definition fest: Loudness of corn assessed; affirming what isn’t a muffin


LOUD or just corny?

Mr. Tidbit hadn’t visited the Pringles end of the potato chip aisle in quite a long time, as all that seemed to be happening among those potato crisps was the occasional new flavor (there are now 16).

Thus he hadn’t noticed Pringles Baked Stix, whenever they first appeared. (They are wheat-based and include, among the five flavors, two sweet ones: honey butter and sugar cookie.) Had he noticed them, though, between the “Stix” in the name and the drawing on the package, he would have known they weren’t just more flavors of the regular Pringles potato crisp.

That’s not the case with new Pringles LOUD. All five kinds have flavor names suggesting either spiciness or intensity, so Mr. Tidbit assumed that’s what made them a separate line from regular Pringles. Not so. Rather than the dried potatoes that are the main ingredient in regular Pringles, the first ingredient in all five LOUD versions is degerminated yellow corn flour. So they’re Corn Crisps. And two of them (Super Cheesy Italian and Mighty Margherita Pizza) also contain a “grain and vegetable blend” consisting of dried carrots, modified rice starch, malted barley flour, oat flour, dried spinach, dried peas and wheat starch. If you read down far enough, there’s even a soupcon of dried potatoes.


Oh, do you know the cupcake man?


Mr. Tidbit would like to be remembered for two observations. The first, with which he described the unpleasant offspring of an equally unpleasant parent: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the horse.” The second, the one of interest here (but he likes the first one a lot), was in answer to a friend’s definitional question: “The difference between a muffin and a cupcake is intent.”

Hershey’s Gourmet Filled Muffins, a four-pack of chocolate cakes he encountered recently in a supermarket prepackaged-bakery section, has caused him not to rethink his muffin/cupcake remark but to aver that the item in question was misnamed. Here’s the descriptive passage on the label: “Hershey’s chocolate muffins filled with decadent Hershey’s fudge filling, topped with chocolate icing and decorated with Hershey’s chips.”

Not a word about nutrition or whole grains, no cranberries but use of the word “decadent.” Clearly that’s dessert, not the kind of abstemious comestible we call a muffin. Confirmation appears in the nutrition label: One of these objects weighs four ounces and contains 450 calories and 24 grams of fat.




Helpers, toppers and . . . bowlers?





Another helper heard from

Marie Callender’s, maker of many things in the freezer case, including pies, pot pies and meals, has entered the “just-add” shelf-stable space until now dominated by Hamburger Helper and its chicken and tuna cousins.

Mr. Tidbit is aware of five varieties of Marie Callender’s Family Recipes bagged pasta and seasoning blends: Creamy Alfredo, Homestyle Stroganoff, Zesty Tomato, Parmesan Garlic, and Smoky Cheddar Burger. You add, as specified, ground beef or chicken, and other ingredients.

The Family Recipes bags, when prepared, produce six 1-cup servings. The 10.4-ounce bag of the Stroganoff version (add 1 pound of ground beef, 2 cups milk, 1 cup water and 1/2 cup sour cream) was $2.98 at one discount supermarket.

The boxes of Hamburger Helper, when prepared, produce five 1-cup servings. At the same store, the 5.5-ounce box of the Deluxe Beef Stroganoff version (add 1 pound of ground beef, 1/2 cup hot water and 2 1/4 cups milk), was $1.78.

With its list of five varieties, Ms. Callender has a way to go to match Mr. Helper. Guess how many kinds of Hamburger Helper exist (not counting Chicken Helper or Tuna Helper). (Or Ultimate Helper, whatever that is.) Nope: There are 24. (And your store doesn’t carry the one you like.)


Top the cheesecake

phila chscake   Mr. Tidbit’s recent extensive review of the history of individual cheesecake or cheesecake-like items from Jell-O, with or without mention of Philadelphia cream cheese, inadvertently implied that new Philadelphia Cheesecake (no mention of Jell-O) is available only with strawberry topping. Nay, not so. There are three other versions: cherry, milk chocolate and (of course) salted caramel.


Bowled over


Mr. Tidbit isn’t sure when what would otherwise have been simply a frozen entree started appearing instead as a frozen entree bowl, but the phenomenon is now in full flower. Mr. Tidbit just encountered two new lines of bowls in one supermarket visit.

Stouffer’s slightly upscale, protein-centered Fit Kitchen line, itself only a year old, has now sprouted Fit Kitchen Bowls. Like the regular Fit Kitchen items, the boxes of Fit Kitchen Bowls prominently display the amount of protein in each — typically something like 25 grams. They come in bowls; other than that Mr. Tidbit can discern nothing to distinguish them from the regular Fit Kitchen items.


Healthy Choice already had some entrees in bowls, but not as a separate line. The addition of Healthy Choice Power Bowls corrects that situation.