For a while a few years ago -- Mr. Tidbit just checked; make that 17 years ago -- the folks at Duncan Hines regularly launched unusual (one might even say peculiar) flavors and colors in their line of frostings and cake mixes. There was a green Key Lime cake mix, which, when topped with the bright-orange Mango-Tangerine frosting, as it was in the picture on the box, was downright arresting. Among the other unusual Duncan Hines frosting offerings in 1995 were Berry Blue, Grape Bubble Gum and a fluorescent-green Kiwi Strawberry.

Maybe somebody at Pinnacle Foods (which acquired Duncan Hines from Procter & Gamble in 1997) was browsing through a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore and became smitten with the 1995 products. Or maybe not.

In any case, in somewhat the same spirit, Duncan Hines now offers Frosting Creations, a 16-ounce tub of neutral-flavored white frosting called "frosting starter," into which you can stir any of 12 envelopes of flavor (and color), including blue Cotton Candy, violet Bubble Gum, orange Orange Creme and nine somewhat more sober varieties such as brown Chocolate Almond.

At one store, where 16-ounce tubs of regular Duncan Hines frostings cost $1.99, the 16-ounce tub of Frosting Creations frosting starter inexplicably costs $2.09 -- and the flavor packets cost an extra 99 cents each.


Plum additional

Meanwhile, Sunsweet has developed yet another way to package prunes. This week's new prune product is Plum Amazins, which are raisin-sized diced prunes, in a pry-off-lid canister. (Sunsweet prefers to call prunes "dried plums"; Mr. Tidbit doesn't.) They join Sunsweet's regular prunes; bite-size prunes; Ones (individually wrapped prunes); D'Noir prunes (packed without preservatives); cherry, orange and lemon flavored prunes, and premium prunes (Mr. Tidbit has no idea what makes them premium).

The package notes that Plum Amazins have more fiber, less sugar and fewer calories than raisins or cranberries. At one store, where a 9-ounce bag of regular Sunsweet prunes was $2.49, the same size bag of diced Plum Amazins $2.79 -- 12 percent more per ounce.