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Al Sicherman

Columnist | Tidbits
Al Sicherman writes the Tidbits column for the Taste section. He is a retired reporter for the Star Tribune. In 1989 his son Joe died after taking LSD. The column Al wrote then: A father's plea: Be scared for your kids was widely reprinted. In 1999 Al wrote a new introduction to that column: Ten years after Joe's death, grief and a message endure.
Recent content from Al Sicherman

Tidbits: Kellogg's Origins, Chex Clusters

Origins of KelloggSeveral new cereal products from Kellogg’s share the name Kellogg’s Origins. There are two cold breakfast cereals, two kinds of granola and two…

Tidbits: Kozy Shack pudding, Fiber One bars

Kozy upKozy Shack, the Arden Hills maker of rice pudding (and tapioca pudding and chocolate pudding), steps up the price point with a set of…

Tidbits: Kool-Aid, Del Monte juice, microwave pouch meals

Kool-Aid againIf you’ve been thinking “I wish there could be yet another way to make Kool-Aid,” this is your lucky day. We already had the…

Tidbits: Purely Simple cake mix and Quaker quinoa granola bars

Simple cake mix Further evidence, if Mr. Tidbit needed any, that major grocery manufacturers want to hop onto the “natural” or “simple” bandwagon: Purely Simple…

Tidbits: Campbell's grilling sauces and Dannon dairy dessert

Sauce vs. sauceThe Campbell’s brand of 19 foil-pouched sauces — six skillet sauces, five oven sauces and eight slow cooker sauces — has grown to…

Tidbits: Oreos and Campbell's

The skinny on Oreo ThinsAfter all the advance media hoopla about new Oreo Thins — styled as “the Oreo for adults,” and “a thin, crisp,…

Tidbits: Nabisco's Chips Ahoy!, Keebler cookies and crackers

Naturally peculiarIf there isn’t a peculiar new cookie flavor from Nabisco’s Oreo, chances are there’s a peculiar new cookie flavor from Nabisco’s Chips Ahoy! (the…

Tidbits: Tropicana Farmstead and Simply Orange Juice Co.

More green juiceThere’s a new juice offering in Tropicana’s Farmstand line. It’s Tropical Green, and Mr. Tidbit couldn’t help comparing it to the slightly less…

Tidbits: An eye on Weight Watchers products

Weight watchingMr. Tidbit doesn’t ordinarily follow weight-control products, but suddenly several items from Weight Watchers, including Whole Grain Honey Nut Toasted Oats, popped up in…

Tidbits: DiGiorno premium pizza and Pepperidge Farm granola bars

Going premium Mr. Tidbit loves jargon, so he was delighted to learn that Pizzeria, the new line of Nestle’s DiGiorno frozen pizza, represents what an…

Tidbits: Ritz crackers and Oreo cookies

BIG price Mr. Tidbit has a new nomination for the department of “How dumb do they think we are?” It’s the new limited-edition BIG Ritz…

Tidbits: Kool-Aid gelatin dessert; jasmine and basmati rice

Jiggle vs. jiggle Mr. Tidbit has seen some strange things, but he doesn’t recall ever seeing a product and a new virtually identical competing product…

Tidbits: PACt from Ocean Spray aims to 'cleanse and purify'

What’s in a name? Mr. Tidbit has noticed that increasing age has granted him vastly increasing wisdom, accompanied by vastly increasing ignorance about whatever it…

Tidbits: Stouffer's and Healthy Choice lines expanding

Kitchen fitnessStouffer’s has added a line of frozen dinners called Fit Kitchen: six choices including Cilantro Lime Chicken and Bourbon Steak. Each package prominently displays…

Tidbits: Uncle Ben's rice, Häagen-Dazs ice cream

Nice rice at a priceMr. Tidbit vaguely remembers first noticing a few months ago that Uncle Ben’s was selling basmati rice and jasmine rice, and…

Tidbits: Oreos

Oreo kidding me?Another month, another goofy variety of “limited edition” Oreos.This time it’s Cotton Candy Oreos, said to be available only at Target stores. If…

Tidbits: Sriracha ketchup and Campbell's baked beans

Catching up on ketchupUnless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years, you’ve probably heard of the hot sauce called Sriracha. It’s…

Tidbits: Rice-A-Roni and Peeps

Faster Rice-A-RoniTo prepare Rice-A-Roni, you first fry the mixture of rice and bits of vermicelli in some butter or margarine (browning the vermicelli gives the…

Tidbits: Shake 'N Bake and Philadelphia Cream Cheese

Some crumby newsMr. Tidbit hadn’t thought of it this way before, but our nation’s supermarket shoppers might be divided, theoretically, into two groups: those who…

Tidbits: Lean Cuisine, Nature Valley

Lean Cuisine routineEvery so often, the many Lean Cuisine offerings get reorganized and relabeled. The last time, about two years ago, the previous designations (Cafe…

Tidbits: Libby's and Lunchables

Mmm! Pouches!New from produce packer Libby’s are several vegetables in microwaveable stand-up pouches instead of cans (and, for that matter, instead of frozen boxes or…

Tidbits: Honey Maid and Welch's

Bites of what?New from Honey Maid, Nabisco’s graham cracker brand, are Go Bites, little crackery pillows with chocolate or vanilla filling.Honey Maid already had branched…

Tidbits: New V8 varieties include Purple Power

V8 now comes in purpleMr. Tidbit likes to say there was a time — oh, not so long ago — when, if someone asked you…

Tidbits: Goldfish and Oreos

Goldfish variationsNew from Pepperidge Farm are Goldfish Puffs, a puffy version of the little fish-shaped cracker. The bag describes the new item as “puffed extra…

Tidbits: Cranberries and Kellogg's Raisin Bran

Cranberries, tooThere’s a new version of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran: It contains sweetened dried cranberries as well as raisins. The box appears to be the same…

Tidbits: Coca-Cola Life and Pepsi True

Another CokeMr. Tidbit had barely recovered from last week’s discovery of Coca-Cola in little wasp-waisted metal bottles when he came across a display of Coca-Cola…

Tidbits: Coke bottles and breakfast biscuits

Metal bottlesAt a discount store recently, Mr. Tidbit was stopped in his tracks by a display of tiny (8 ½-ounce) metal “bottles” of various Coca-Cola products.…

Tidbits: Cheerios + Ancient Grains, Post's Great Grains

More CheeriosThe latest of the many (many!) kinds of Cheerios is Cheerios + Ancient Grains, which is a medley, if you will (or even if…

Tidbits: Wheat Thins adds pita crisps to fold; salted caramel trend continues

A toast to pitaThere’s a new member of the Nabisco Wheat Thins family: Toasted Pita, little baked-cracker triangles in at least two flavors (original and…

Tidbits: Baked granola

Baked granolaMr. Tidbit couldn’t help but notice an unusual new item in the baking-mixes aisle. Even larger than the bright yellow and red “New!” banner…

Tidbits: Jimmy Dean and Chef Boyardee

More JimmyOver the past several years, Mr. Tidbit has documented the ever-growing number of breakfast sandwiches, breakfast bowls and the like to be found in…

Tidbits: Dole, Nabisco

How sweet it is!There’s something new in the canned-fruit aisle: Two of Dole’s many four-packs of 4-ounce little tubs of fruit — diced peaches and…

Tidbits: New V8 products, Ocean Spray Wave juice drink

Juicy newsIn the juice aisle at one of his regular supermarkets, Mr. Tidbit recently stumbled upon several new V8 products. Unlike some other V8s, such…

Tidbits: Salted Caramel Peanuts, not-so-exotic mangoes

Oddly trendyMr. Tidbit faces the new year armed with perhaps the oddest (yet) salted-caramel product: Planters Salted Caramel Peanuts. Given that peanuts are typically salted,…

Tidbits: Oatmeal

Oat cuisineMr. Tidbit could hardly have expected that two more new oatmeal offerings would turn up the week after he discussed the new Dole instant…

Tidbits: Instant oatmeal, pasta sauce

Actual fruitThere’s something new in the instant-oatmeal aisle. Fruit. No, not dried chips of peach-flavored apples. Not even dried chips of peaches. Actual peaches. And…

Tidbits: Açai candies,

Chocolates with whole fruitMr. Tidbit recently discussed Brach’s and Brookside chocolate candies with açai-blueberry-flavored centers. There isn’t a whole lot of açai in either one,…

Tidbits: Skillet sauces, Keebler's crackers, Hillshire snacking

Saucy Mr. Tidbit doesn’t know why, but there seems to be a sudden profusion of “skillet sauces” — something you add to sautéed meat and…

Tidbits: Bite-size PB&J, chipotle chicken bowls, Oreos' welcome return

New PB & J There are many entries in the fruity-chewy-type snack section of the supermarket, and until recently Mr. Tidbit has been able to…

Tidbits: Beech-Nut baby food, Progresso chili

Just too muchIt has been a long time since Mr. Tidbit visited the baby food aisle. A very long time. So he wasn’t really…

Tidbits: Yoplait, Oikos Greek Yogurt Dips

Yogurt for drinkingNew from Yoplait is Yogurt & Juice, in four flavors — strawberry, pineapple mango, berry pomegranate and strawberry banana (all are flavored blends…

Tidbits: Nestlé

Costly delightNestlé, which owns the name “Toll House” (after the inn where the chocolate-chip cookie originated more than 75 years ago), makes chips (which it…

Tidbits: Ghirardelli and Oreos

Mini squaresThe folks at Ghirardelli, not content to sell you large chocolate bars in 22 different flavors and little individually wrapped Squares in 19 flavors…

Tidbits: Chex, Quaker and Bumble Bee

Oatmeal newsMr. Tidbit recently made a smallish fuss about the gluten-free oats in a yogurt selection from Chobani. Then, noting firms such as Bob’s Red…

Tidbits: Hunt's and Russell Stover

Kit and kaboodleThere are some folks, Mr. Tidbit knows, who think he is being excessively cynical in his view of the grocery industry and what…

Tidbits: Fiber One, Oreos and Del Monte

Fiber manySure, you’re already eating the eight kinds of Fiber One cereal, the 15 kinds of Fiber One chewy bars, the eight kinds of Fiber…

Tidbits: Twinkies and Snickerdoodle Cakes

Choice of TwinkiesWe survived the disturbance in the Force that was caused by the recent brief disappearance of Twinkies, but the new Hostess folks seem…

Tidbits: Jif, Nutella

More portable JifWe already had Jif to Go, peanut butter in 1 ½-ounce tubs. Of course that product costs more per ounce than Jif in 16-ounce…

Tidbits: Stouffer's mac-and-cheese

Cheeziness Just when Mr. Tidbit was beginning to think that food companies were running out of ways to charge more for the same thing, he…

Tidbits: Chex, Entenmann's

Accounting for ChexAnother example of stealth grocery-price increases just caught Mr. Tidbit’s eye: The boxes of General Mills’ Chex cereals have gotten smaller. The box…

Tidbits: Gluten-free oats, oatmeal cups for Keurig brewers

Transcending gluten-free Mr. Tidbit is astonished to announce two (count ’em) breakthroughs in oatmeal. One oatmeal breakthrough per lifetime is all that a reasonable person…

Tidbits: Açai

Mining for açaiAçai berries are this year’s pomegranates (or maybe they’re last year’s orange jumpsuits — Mr. Tidbit isn’t hip enough to be sure). In…

Tidbits: Berry the flavor, cookies with fiber

Berry me notNot long ago, Mr. Tidbit had occasion to grumble about the dearth of actual strawberries in two “limited edition” items from Pepperidge Farm:…

Tidbits: Chobani and Hostess

More Greek to youThere were already many ways to buy Chobani, the popular Greek-style yogurt. Including new flavors, there are four with fruit on the…

Tidbits: Mini-candy bars, Craisins

Bitten by Bites Unless you don’t ever shop for candy bars, you may well have noticed the sudden profusion of bags of unwrapped miniature versions…

Tidbits: Peanuts and cereal, more flavors for Ritz crackers

Peanuts and what? The latest breakfast entry from Kellogg is Jif peanut butter cereal (made with Jif peanut butter). Folks allergic to peanuts obviously wouldn’t…

Tidbits: Cheerios

Manifest densityLast week, in discussing General Mills’ new Cheerios Protein cereal, Mr. Tidbit ran out of the room before he could mention a peculiar contributor…

Tidbits: Oreos, Cheerios

Oreos again!Good heavens, there’s another new flavor of Oreo cookies! It’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, represented with another of Oreos’ recent two-color filling swirls…

Tidbits: Pepperidge Farm

Not exactly loafing Preparing to discuss the latest bread from Pepperidge Farm — a strawberry-flavored “limited edition” of its Swirl breakfast bread — Mr. Tidbit…

Tidbits: Chips Ahoy!

More Chips Ahoy! The makers of Chips Ahoy! cookies, who recently debuted four new flavors at once, have dialed it down, but not all the…

Tidbits: Oreo and Klondike

Another Oreo!Quite some time ago, Mr. Tidbit pledged not to bother mentioning any new products that are merely new flavors of existing products. He is…

Tidbits: DiGiorno, Pace Foods dips

Endless pizzaMr. Tidbit is pretty sure we have not seen the end of new varieties of frozen pizza, given all the kinds of crust and…

Tidbits: Lunchables and Tater Tots

Skewering lunch When, a few months ago, Mr. Tidbit encountered Lunchables Snack Duos (double packages each consisting of, for example, tortilla chips, salsa and mini…

Tidbits: Mega M&Ms, Honey Bunches of Oats

Bigger, odder m&ms Two strange things have been launched from Mars. (Mr. Tidbit refers to the candy company, not the planet, although some folks might…

Tidbits: Crystal Farms, Jolly Rancher gelatin

Can you take a yolk?The joint is jumping over at Crystal Farms, whose parent company, Michael Foods, is being acquired by Post Holdings (the parent…

Tidbits: Peeps, Oreos

Peeple watching With Easter now well behind us, Mr. Tidbit needs to offer an observation about marketing, pricing and consumer behavior. Peeps, which were originally…

Tidbits: Lean Cuisine, Kraft microwave mac-and-cheese

More Lean CuisineThe ever-expanding Lean Cuisine brand, apparently aiming to take over the entire frozen-food aisle, has added two new lines. There were already 144…

Tidbits: Hormel's Compleats, Heat-N-Go pancakes

Scrambled what?Mr. Tidbit’s regular readers probably are aware that, because food preferences truly are a matter of taste, he seldom says how much he likes…

Tidbits: Nature Valley bars, BelVita breakfast biscuits, cake mixes

Crowded valleyThe debut of a couple of new Nature Valley products caused Mr. Tidbit to check in on the number of Nature Valley bars. According…

Tidbits: Many additions to the snack aisle

A basket of TriscuitAbout a year ago, Nabisco introduced five flavors of Brown Rice Triscuits (which also contain wheat flour and such odd ingredients as…

Tidbits: granola, cereal bars, red velvet

Warm granola Quaker, which pretty much owns the supermarket’s oatmeal aisle, now offers what it calls Warm & Crunchy Granola. The box of eight packets…

Tidbits: More from Chips Ahoy!

Four at once Just a month ago Mr. Tidbit heralded a first in the long line of Oreo introductions when two new flavors debuted at…

Tidbits: Oscar Mayer's P3, Milanos

Tiny treasuresNew in the refrigerated case, right next to Oscar Mayer’s Lunchables Snack Duos, is Oscar Mayer’s P3 (spelled out in smaller type as Portable…

Tidbits: sauces

Mexican-style saucesOver the past year and a half or so, we’ve seen quite a number of new products that Mr. Tidbit has described as “sauce-for,”…

Tidbits: Ranch dressing, Cheez-Its, Oreos

Acres of ranchesA few weeks ago Mr. Tidbit discussed the emergence of seven new ranch salad dressings from Kraft: Velveeta Cheesy Ranch, Velveeta Cheesy Jalapeño…
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