Cookies and air

When Mr. Tidbit spoke last week of Pepperidge Farm's new chocolate mint Milano and mint chocolate chunk cookies, he was unaware of a more significant addition to Pepperidge Farm's assortment of cookie variations. When he first spotted the sizable box of chocolate chunk cookies, he thought it offered a larger quantity of cookies than is contained in the normal upright 7.2-ounce bag. Oh, how wrong he was.

He somehow failed to notice -- despite the large banner -- that it was a box of 100-calorie pouches of miniature chocolate chunk cookies. There are five such pouches inside, each weighing 0.74 ounces, for a total of 3.7 ounces. (The largish box contains as much air as it does cookies.) And surely you know what's coming.

The price on the box is $2.99. The price on the 7.2-ounce bag of larger cookies (each is 140 calories) just went from $2.99 to $3.19, but even at that rate it's 44.3 cents an ounce, while the box of 100-calorie pouches is 80.8 cents an ounce -- a staggering 82 percent more.

Chex and double-chex

While Mr. Tidbit wasn't looking, the array of Chex snack mixes has virtually exploded from what Mr. Tidbit vaguely recalls as the two or three flavors that existed when General Mills bought the Chex cereals from Ralston in 1996. Even if he's wrong about "two or three," he's sure it was nothing like the current 16. Yes, 16. That includes new dark chocolate and three new (wait for it) boxes of 100-calorie packs -- Cheddar, chocolate caramel and strawberry yogurt.

At one store where the 8.75-ounce bag of Cheddar mix sells for $2.29 (26.2 cents an ounce), the 4.9-ounce box of six 0.82-ounce 100-calorie pouches sells for $2.88 (58.8 cents an ounce), more than double (a preposterous 124 percent above) the per-ounce price.

AL SICHERMAN