Tidbits: Soup, soup, soup or soup?

  • Article by: AL SICHERMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 15, 1998 - 10:00 PM

If there's one thing the folks at Campbell's Soup know, it's how to do line extensions.

Besides the zillions of regular soups in the red-and-white label cans, Campbell's also makes Healthy Request soups (lower in fat), Chunky soups (chunkier), Simply Home soups (in glass jars) and Home Cookin' soups (whose identifying characteristic has not been revealed to Mr. Tidbit).

In addition, within the red-and-white line, there's a set of low-sodium soups. And now there's a second line-within-the-line, new Garden Creations: this Mushroom & Sweet Pepper with Potato; Tomato Bean; Potato Garden Herb and Garden Pea.

What's the difference between Garden Pea soup and Campbell's regular Split Pea with Ham and Bacon soup? Don't all peas come from gardens (some of them very large, but still gardens)? Mr. Tidbit is a little afraid of the answer to the second question, but he thinks the answer to the first one is on the back label of the new soups: After enthusing over the slow cooking of the "luscious vegetables, herbs and spices," it says "Finely chopped vegetables are also added in."

That sounds like the vegetable purees that are used in lowered-fat cooking, and when he prepared the two pea soups the velvety pureed texture of the Garden soup (plus the carrots floating in it) did contrast strongly with the regular one. But there's a lot less ham in the new one.

Dreadful sorry, navels  

This year's slightly smaller than usual crop of navel oranges might come at a particularly sweet time for Spanish clementines, the small, bright-orange, seedless relatives of mandarin oranges. This year's clementine imports from Spain are even sweeter, according to Luke Sears, developer of the Darling Clementines brand, because Spanish fruit inspectors have tightened the sweetness standards for U.S.-bound clementines.

Weighing in on tuna  

It's bad enough that the size of a can of tuna has been shrinking by fourths and eighths of an ounce. Now we learn from the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter that the drained weight of the tuna in typical 6-ounce cans is 4 to 4½ ounces. Apparently the law that governs such things sets the minimum amount of solid tuna in a 6-ounce can at only 3.75 ounces, and a can of chunk tuna need contain only 3.29 ounces of tuna.

The U.S. Tuna Foundation, whose members include Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea and StarKist, sets a voluntary minimum of 4 ounces for both types.

There's a proposal before the U.S. Food and Drug administration requiring tuna and other food labels to list drained weight. The Tuna Foundation supports it, but the Tufts letter suggests that it will be a while.

Of cheese and Goldfish  

Perhaps you have felt a certain disquietude as the holiday season approached. Something was missing. Something small but important. Something having to do with . . . cheese-flavored crackers. Fish-shaped cheese-flavored crackers. Not enough variety within a package of fish-shaped cheese-flavored crackers.

Good news is at hand! Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers now are available in this Cheese Trio package, consisting of Parmesan, Cheddar and zesty Cheddar Goldfish. Mr. Tidbit is not privy to the cheese selection process at Pepperidge Farm, so he cannot describe the unzesty character of the second-listed cheese, but he notes that those who prefer to avoid even Cheddar that is absolutely devoid of zest can choose new toasted wheat Goldfish.

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