Red-aisle news

Mr. Tidbit doesn't frequently check for new developments in the supermarket aisle that features SpaghettiOs, Beefaroni and the like. But he recently noticed two new items, both from ConAgra's Chef Boyardee.

First, there's Chef Boyardee Good to Go, lunch kits in little red boxes. Each features a microwaveable 7.5-ounce tub of a Chef Boyardee product (Beefaroni, mac & cheese or beef ravioli), a 3.25-ounce Snack Pack pudding cup (another ConAgra product) and a brandless chewy granola bar. There's also a plastic spoon. Unlike Lunchables, the Good to Go kits need no refrigeration.

The pasta product and the pudding cup are the standard sizes, and a generic granola bar is easy to find, as well, so it would be easy to put this together yourself — no doubt, Mr. Tidbit would point out, at a substantial saving. (You always wind up paying a whole lot extra for "convenience" packaging.) Imagine Mr. Tidbit's surprise to find that, at one supermarket, where the kit sold for $2.29, buying the items separately (from a four-pack of pudding and a box of 10 granola bars) would have saved only about a dime.

The other Chef Boyardee development was three new items in the 15-ounce-can section, representing two departures from the kid-oriented can-of-red philosophy: spicy and extra-spicy beef ravioli and (wait for it) chicken Alfredo.

Squeezable apple

In 1999 Mr. Tidbit predicted that new Go-Gurt squeezable yogurt would disappear immediately, as he foresaw kids wildly squeezing yogurt at each other. Naturally, Go-Gurt was (and is) a big seller, and, of course, it costs more per ounce than yogurt in a tub.

So he should have predicted new Dole Fruit Squish'ems and Mott's Snack & Go. Both are applesauce in four-packs of pouches you can squeeze into your mouth. Dole has three flavors; Mott's has four.

If Mr. Tidbit had actually predicted applesauce in a pouch, he would have predicted, correctly for a change, that it would cost lots more than applesauce in a tub. At one store, where the four-packs of 3.2-ounce pouches of Mott's Snack & Go were $3.25 (25 cents an ounce), six-packs of 4-ounce tubs of Mott's applesauce were $2.39 (10 cents an ounce).

Al Sicherman