Peeple watching

With Easter now well behind us, Mr. Tidbit needs to offer an observation about marketing, pricing and consumer behavior. Peeps, which were originally just little yellow Easter marshmallow chicks, are these days, of course, sold at virtually every holiday, in the shape of pumpkins, trees, hearts and more (and now between holidays, as well). But peak season for Peeps is still Easter, when they appear in bunny shape, too, and in an increasing array of colors.

For the past several years there have been a few more variations at Easter, including Peeps with milk-chocolate-dipped bottoms, and flavored Peeps. This year, the latter were Orange Crème, Strawberry Crème and Vanilla Crème flavors, as opposed to what might be called original flavor (or, as you might understandably describe it, no flavor).

What Mr. Tidbit finds notable this year is the pricing. He apologizes for not having discussed this in the past, but he's not sure it was always so remarkable.

The flavored Peeps are each somewhat larger than the regular ones. Regular Peeps are sold in varying packages that typically contain two or three rows of five conjoined Peeps. Each such row weighs 1½ ounces, so each regular Peep clocks in at three-tenths of an ounce. Flavored Peeps come in a 1⅛-ounce tray of three quite separate Peeps, so each weighs ⅜ of an ounce. Thus each flavored Peep is all of 25 percent bigger than a regular one (although packaging does make them seem bigger than that).

Pricing varies, but at one discount store, which was typical, the tray of three flavored Peeps was $1.99 — $1.77 an ounce — and the three-row (15-Peep, 4½-ounce) pack of regular Peeps was $1.50 — 33 cents an ounce. That's right, the flavored Peeps cost more than five times as much per ounce!

Where he saw them, the admittedly much smaller stock of flavored Peeps was sold out well before Easter.

What's next? Squash?

The Oreo folks may have gone over the edge. There's a new "limited edition" flavor of Golden Oreos: watermelon. Each cookie has both pink and green filling, both of which, Mr. Tidbit attests, do taste vaguely like watermelon. Very refreshing.

Al Sicherman