Mr. Tidbit doesn't know when the concept of "limited edition" grocery items first appeared; perhaps it started with the endlessly changing (and always undersized) variants of Oreos. It has swept through the ice cream and frozen pizza aisles — Tombstone's pizza offerings currently include two: bratwurst and Diablo (with jalapeños and Sriracha sauce) — and it has appeared as well among cookies, beverages, cake mixes and more. Mr. Tidbit recently saw a "Limited edition" bagel.
He isn't sure, then, why the idea of "Limited edition" beans (actually, the label says "Limited time"; Mr. Tidbit hopes you'll agree that's not a significant difference) struck him as somehow even more peculiar. In any case, here it is: Bush's Asian BBQ beans ("Limited time, unlimited flavor"). The label describes them as "red beans in an Asian inspired BBQ sauce with a hint of ginger." The ingredient list reveals that they also contain sesame oil. Surprisingly (at least to Mr. Tidbit), the Asian BBQ beans cost the same as many other Bush's beans, and are in the same size can.
Kraft gets bold
New from Kraft are two spiced-up "Bold" varieties of Velveeta Shells & Cheese: chipotle and jalapeño. They carry the same shelf price as the original version and the one that's made with 2 percent milk. But those two mainline versions come in 14-ounce boxes; the new "Bold" products weigh in at just 11.6 ounces, so they cost 20 percent more per ounce.
There's also a new version of the Kraft Deluxe macaroni & cheese dinner. (Mr. Tidbit is speaking here of the somewhat spiffy, comparatively pastel-colored product in the horizontal box, not to be confused with the bright orange product in the smaller vertical box.) The new flavor, White Cheddar & Garlic & Herbs, comes in an 11.9-ounce box instead of the 14-ounce box of Original Cheddar. Where they are priced the same, and that's typical, that means they cost 18 percent more per ounce.
Gold is transmuted
Late last year Mr. Tidbit described Bertolli's new line of three Gold Label premium pasta sauces, each featuring an imported ingredient. Update: They are now called Riserva, there are now four kinds, and only the new one (Marinara with Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese) claims to have an imported ingredient.