Not long ago, when discussing Post's new Cocoa Pebbles Treats (like Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats, but made with Post's Cocoa Pebbles), Mr. Tidbit noted that Cocoa Pebbles Treats are gluten-free, but that because Rice Krispies and Rice Krispies Treats contain malt flavoring, neither of them is gluten-free.

Well, that has changed, but in rather an odd way. Now there's gluten-free Kellogg's Rice Krispies -- but that's not the result of removing the malt flavoring from Rice Krispies. No, maybe for folks who would somehow miss the malt flavoring, there's still regular Rice Krispies; gluten-free Rice Krispies is an additional product.

Instead of the white rice used in regular Rice Krispies, the gluten-free product is made with brown rice. A possible (but very unlikely) explanation emerges with a Kellogg's headline calling it "a gluten-free option with the same beloved sound." So. Is the malt flavoring in regular Rice Krispies there to contribute to their trademarked sound (made by brown rice but not by unaided white rice)? If so, which does malt flavoring do: "snap," crackle" or "pop"?

Better Oats

You might not have noticed, dear reader, but Mr. Tidbit tries to avoid discussing new grocery products that wouldn't easily be found at most stores -- sparing you from reading about house brands from supermarkets you never visit, and from longing for odd little boutique products you'll never find. Sometimes it takes Mr. Tidbit a while to notice that while he has been scrupulously ignoring some product of the latter sort at one of the stores he visits, he has been scrupulously ignoring it almost everywhere else, too.

All of that is by way of apologizing for Mr. Tidbit's delayed recognition that Better Oats is not a niche product, placed in a few stores by somebody's nephew. In fact it's a set of nine lines of oatmeal and related products, offering a total of 29 choices of content, consistency and flavor, and it's widely available.

Even better, it's a home-town choice, from Red Engine Foods of Eden Prairie, a branch of Northfield's Malt-O-Meal.