Is small perfect?

New from Duncan Hines is Perfect Size cake mix, which makes a small one-layer cake, and comes complete with frosting mix and a small (one-use) pan.

The pan is 6 inches in diameter, so according to Mr. Tidbit's deeply mathematical analysis, the amount of cake in that one layer is just over half as much as in one layer of a normal 8-inch cake, so it's a little more than a quarter the size of a two-layer 8-inch cake. (The Perfect Size nutrition label says it makes five servings, but the Duncan Hines website describes it as "just the right size for two to four people.")

At one store, where the regular Duncan Hines cake mixes sell for $2.39 (and you have to add what Mr. Tidbit estimates as $1 worth of oil and eggs, plus a tub of ready-made frosting, $2.29 at that store), the total for a frosted cake is about $5.70 — something like 50 cents for a skinny 12-serving slice to 70 cents for a generous eight-serving slice.

At the same store, the Perfect Size mix was $3.39 (and you have to add an egg and butter that Mr. Tidbit estimates to total 40 cents), and it includes frosting mix, but you have to add 40 cents' worth of butter to that, too, for a total of about $4.20. So the cost per slice is considerably higher — something like 85 cents for a skinny five-serving slice to $1.40 for a generous three-serving slice.

All that said, and recognizing that Mr. Tidbit is sometimes wrong in assessing consumer sentiment about new products — make that "usually wrong" — he's pretty sure he's right in thinking that, even this soon into New Year's resolutions season, not very many folks will be happy with making the same amount of effort and spending more money to produce less cake.

Is big perfect?

On the other hand, have any folks resolved to eat more? Marie Callender's new frozen Chili Pot Pie offers that opportunity. The box says it's "about two" one-cup, 420-calorie (23 grams of fat) servings, but who eats half of a pot pie? And apparently it's really more than two cups. A note points out that the entire one-pound package contains 950 calories (that would be 52 grams of fat).

Al Sicherman