Tidbits: Is it bisque yet?

  • Article by: AL SICHERMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 19, 2012 - 2:50 PM

Soups, soups and more soups.

Mr. Tidbit hasn't seen such a rash of confusing new products and packaging changes since ... two weeks ago, when he noted that Jell-O had repackaged all its refrigerated pudding and gelatin. This time it's Campbell's soups.

First, Campbell's Select Harvest line of ready-to-eat (non-condensed) soups, all of which have been sporting "100% natural" flags on the front label, have been ... well, Mr. Tidbit thinks the word is "re-imagined." They look entirely different -- the labels seem to be mostly white -- and the line is now named Campbell's 100% Natural. The soups themselves are largely unaffected, still in 18.8-ounce cans or 15.3-ounce microwaveable bowls, apparently with no change in price. But there have been some additions, including Butternut Squash Bisque and Creamy Gouda Bisque with Chicken. (Mmm, mmm, bisque!)

The confusion (at least for Mr. Tidbit, who is still recovering from having said that the two-serving tubs of Campbell's premium-priced "slow kettle style" soups were microwaveable when they weren't -- but now they are) comes from two new lines of Campbell's soups also in unusual packages:

Campbell's new Go Soups come in 14-ounce white stand-up pouches that you tear open, then microwave. The front of each label is dominated by a photo of somebody's face (different faces on each) saying the name of the soup in a big word-balloon. On the first one Mr. Tidbit saw, a young woman seems to be saying "What's kickin'? Creamy Red Pepper With Smoked Gouda." At one store, where Campbell's other ready-to-eat soups, in 18.6- to 18.8-ounce cans, were $2.59 (not quite 14 cents an ounce), the smaller 14-ounce Go pouches were $2.88 (not quite 21 cents an ounce -- almost half again as much per ounce).

Then there are Campbell's new Gourmet Bisques, in 18.3-ounce nonmicrowaveable aseptic brick packages that are almost entirely black. Flavors include Thai Tomato Coconut Bisque and Sweet Potato Tomatillo Bisque. At that store, the Gourmet Bisques were $2.96 (just over 16 cents an ounce).

Mr. Tidbit has no idea what's with all the "bisque." Mr. Tidbit thought bisques involved puréed seafood. Guess he was wrong.

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