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.


Al Sicherman

Author: Al Sicherman

Al Sicherman and his used dog, Gus, live in Minneapolis. Al is on the left/

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