Not very special K

Mr. Tidbit has spoken often, probably too often, about the dilution of Kellogg's Special K brand. One more time, just in case anybody still thinks "Special K" always means something:

The original Special K item, Special K cereal, is a vitamin- and mineral-enhanced high-protein rice and wheat cereal, with a little fiber. It has been joined by 11 other Special K cereals, most with less protein, some with more fiber, all with significant vitamin and mineral enhancements.

There are also 53 other Special K products — cereal bars, nutrition bars, protein granola bars, protein meal bars, protein snack bars, breakfast shakes, protein shakes, Nourish hot cereals, protein water mixes, cracker chips, frozen flatbread breakfast sandwiches, a multigrain cracker and a frozen waffle — about which some nutritional claim (in a few cases a very small one) could be made. Some have nowhere near the vitamin and mineral content of the original Special K cereal.

Below the bottom of that heap are 13 Special K products that anybody would have to say are essentially empty nutritionally: four popcorn chips, seven pastry crisps and two brownie bites.

Make that 17 bottom-scrapers, because we now have Special K fudge-dipped and white-fudge-dipped pretzels, and two kinds of Special K Moments "indulgent snack bites" (caramel pretzel bliss and dreamy coconut).

Mr. Tidbit would describe Special K Moments as tarted-up Rice Krispies Treats, and he would add that they're really pretty good. But they have no more claim to the Special K nutrition mantle than do Rice Krispies Treats. Here's the entire vitamin and mineral panel of Special K Moments: "Vitamin A 0%, Vitamin C 0%, Calcium 0%, Iron 2%." Rice Krispies Treats edge past that, adding 4 percent of the daily value for Vitamin A.

What's in a name?

Over in the department of products with no name other than a description we find new Philadelphia 2x protein cream cheese spread. That's what it says on the tub, and it goes on, in smaller type, to say "of regular cream cheese spread." Indeed, it has 4 grams of protein per 32-gram serving, twice that of similar amounts of cream cheese spread and regular cream cheese.

Al Sicherman