It’s been quite a while since Mr. Tidbit visited the Lunchables department of the supermarket. That’s mostly because he got a little dizzy confronting the seemingly endless variety of offerings that your mother would never call “lunch” — from tiny stacks of crackers, sliced lunch meat and sliced cheese, to “pizza,” “nachos” and lots more of what he has described as “uncomfortably bad imitations of what some folks might call junk food to start with.” (For a while, Mr. Tidbit referred to them as “reduced-expectation foods.”)
Two developments called him back. The first reminds him of the joke about people complaining about a new restaurant: One person says “The food is terrible!” The other says “Yes, and the portions are so small!”
So. Surprise: The packages of Lunchables have been shrunk, some by a lot. Turkey & Cheddar crackers, for example, which was 4.5 ounces, is now 3.2 ounces. Mr. Tidbit isn’t sure when it happened, but it’s fairly recently, as several stores’ websites still show the old sizes.
He noticed the reductions only because he was checking out the Lunchables array after he saw an ad including a new collection called Lunchables Uploaded. Over time new Lunchables lines have added such accompaniments as desserts, juice drinks, fruit and smoothies, as well as a variety of more actually lunch-like core items such as small submarine and flatbread sandwiches. What, he wondered, could an uploaded Lunchables include?
His guess, a pile of Spam, was incorrect. “Uploaded” here seems to mean “loaded up,” in that each such offering includes the basic item (sub sandwich, soft taco, “deep dish” pizza, chicken dunks, etc.), plus a bottle of spring water, a singles packet of Kool-Aid, dessert (Oreos, Rice Krispies Treat, Hershey Kisses, etc.) and a snack (Pringles or Cheez-Its). When they next shrink packages (and they will), Mr. Tidbit hopes they call these Lunchables Uploaded Downloaded.
The newest kind of Pop-Tart is Oatmeal Delights (frosted strawberry or “mapley” brown sugar). The principal ingredient is whole-wheat flour, not oats, but each serving has 3 grams of fiber; other Pop-Tarts have less than 1 gram.