In his never-ending search for peculiar new food products, Mr. Tidbit seldom reaches out past those of major-brand manufacturers, on the notion that there is no point in mentioning a product that readers might be unable to find. On occasion, though, he comes across an unfamiliar-brand item that is so odd he feels compelled to discuss it. When this happens, he almost always learns from readers that the only thing odd about the product is Mr. Tidbit's inability to see how great it is (and, by the way, that the brand has been on almost every supermarket shelf for years).

So Mr. Tidbit looks forward to hearing how wrong he is in thinking that Teasdale's new low-fat instant refried black beans (and low-fat instant refried pinto beans, with or without jalapeño) are a solution looking for a problem. To prepare them, you empty the bag into a pan for the stovetop or a dish for the microwave, add water and boil them for five minutes. That's not a lot of work, Mr. Tidbit acknowledges, but it's no easier than heating canned refried beans (and it takes longer).

It certainly isn't cheaper. Where he found them, the 6-ounce bag of instant refried beans (which makes 22 ounces) was $2.29, 10.4 cents per prepared ounce. A 16-ounce can of Old El Paso refried beans was $1.12, 7 cents per ounce. (It turns out that Teasdale also sells canned refried beans and many other kinds of canned beans, but they weren't at that store.) In any case, the instant beans cost 49 percent more per prepared ounce.

Mr. Tidbit almost forgot to note: The new instant beans are made with sea salt.

Cookie-like granola

New from Quaker are chewy granola bars in the flavors of two popular Girl Scout cookies: Thin Mints and not-as-recognizable Caramel Coconut, named for the principal ingredients of Samoas — which some Girl Scout cookie bakers call Caramel deLites.

These are not to be confused with Nestlé Crunch Thin Mints and Caramel & Coconut bars: One is granola bars that taste like cookies; the other is candy bars that taste like cookies.

Al Sicherman