Intensely natural cola

Unless you've been asleep, you may well have noticed that the latest thing for grocery products to proudly announce is that they don't contain high-fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, which for many years has been a (less-expensive) substitute for sugar in many foods and beverages.

Is the return to sugar a response to pressure from consumers who contend that HFCS has contributed to the obesity epidemic, a result of the ethanol industry's impact on corn prices, or just another "me, too" bandwagon? Mr. Tidbit can't tell.

But some products have taken "Contains No HFCS" and run even further with it. Pepsi is selling 12-ounce glass bottles of Pepsi Natural "all natural cola," sweetened with sugar, colored with natural apple extract and caramel color, flavored with kola nut extract and natural flavor, etc. At one store, it sells for an astonishing three times the price of its regular product in cans.

Largely Kix

Fresh from his recent not-exactly-Cheerios experience with Banana Nut Cheerios, Mr. Tidbit took less time to discover that the cereal in new Honey Kix isn't exactly Kix. As the first half of the name suggests, Honey Kix is sweetened with sugar, honey and brown sugar syrup instead of the sugar and corn syrup in Kix. But the second half of the name doesn't suggest that there's any difference in the cereal itself. And there is.

From the labels: The grain products in regular Kix are corn meal, whole grain oats, whole grain corn, corn bran and modified corn starch; the grain products in new Honey Kix are whole grain corn, corn meal and corn bran. No oats. Because there are 6 grams of sugar per serving of Honey Kix instead of the 3 grams in Regular Kix, Mr. Tidbit correctly expected Honey Kix to be sweeter. And because he had noticed the removal of the oats, he also expected the new product to have a significantly different flavor. It does.

AL SICHERMAN