Mr. Tidbit hasn't paid attention to instant Cream of Wheat recently, so he hadn't noticed that it had acquired optional flavors -- maple brown sugar and Cinnabon cinnamon. But when he noticed new chocolate instant Cream of Wheat, he stopped for a longer look at the expanding Cream of Wheat department of the supermarket.
Every version of this hot cereal has the same price, but the amount of Cream of Wheat you get for that price varies a great deal. Original Cream of Wheat (not instant) comes in two versions, both of which require boiling the water or milk, adding the cereal and then cooking (for 1 minute or 21/2 minutes). Those packages each produce 24 servings. Plain instant Cream of Wheat comes in a box of just 12 single-serve packets, so having the convenience of "instant" costs twice as much per serving.
Other flavors of instant Cream of Wheat come in a box of only 10, so they cost 20 percent more than plain instant. The box of new chocolate instant contains just eight packets. That's 50 percent more expensive per serving than plain instant Cream of Wheat -- and triple the cost per serving of regular Cream of Wheat.
Green Giant complements its line of Valley Fresh Steamers vegetables by adding new Seasoned Steamers, in six varieties including Tuscan-seasoned broccoli, honey-roasted sweet corn and peppers, and Brussels sprouts with sea salt and cracked pepper.
Where he found the Seasoned Steamers broccoli and corn, the slightly smaller packages cost a lot more: $3.19 for the 11.8-ounce Seasoned Steamers broccoli and corn vs. $2.15 and $2.38 for the 12-ounce Valley Fresh Steamers broccoli and corn respectively.
Last week it was 23 years since my son Joe died in a seven-story fall from his college dorm room in Madison, Wis. He had taken LSD; he was 18.
Hug your kids.