Stock market addition

When Mr. Tidbit picked up the four-pack of little tublets of Knorr's new Homestyle concentrated stock (chicken flavor with other natural flavor), knowing he'd have to compare it with some of the many related products, he feared he would be opening a can of worms -- not to mention a can of chicken broth.

(Right off the top, for example, what's the difference between stock and broth? Many folks make no distinction at all, but Swanson makes aseptic brick packs of both stock and broth, and one of several common definitions fits those products: stock is soup makings -- such as meat, bones, vegetables and herbs -- cooked to use as a flavor base; broth is stock that has been seasoned to make it acceptable to be eaten as a soup. Specifically, broth has more salt.)

Mr. Tidbit doesn't have the palate (or the guts) to do a taste comparison of the many available chicken stock/broth products; instead he will list, for a few of them, the price per cup and two other items: sodium content per cup and the percentage of ingredients easily recognized as food/flavor substances (which he defines as things he's ever had in his kitchen -- even if the product has them in dried form).

Swanson's aseptic-pack stock is $2.87 for 26 ounces (88 cents per cup), 500 milligrams sodium, 10 food ingredients of 10 (100 percent). Swanson's aseptic-pack broth is $3.73 for 48 ounces (62 cents per cup), 960 mg sodium, 13 food ingredients of 22 (59 percent).

Campbell's canned broth (double strength) is $1.78 for a 101/2-ounce can (68 cents per diluted cup), 770 mg sodium, six food ingredients of 11 (54 percent).

Knorr chicken flavor bouillon cubes (each makes 2 cups) are $1.18 for a box of six (10 cents per cup), 1270 mg sodium, 11 food ingredients of 16 (69 percent). And Knorr's new concentrated stock tublets are $3.99 for four, each making 31/2 cups (28 cents per cup -- lots cheaper than all but the bouillon cubes), 730 mg sodium, 16 food ingredients of 30 (53 percent).