Flavor Infusers

In the not-too-distant past, a marinade was something you mixed up yourself, often with family-secret ingredients, to flavor and perhaps tenderize meat before cooking it. Then some industrialist noticed that typical marinade ingredients (oil, vinegar, herbs and spices) were what he was already selling as salad dressing; he began advertising this other use for his products, and sales increased.

Before long, everybody was bottling umpteen flavors of ready-made marinade. In many families the secret ingredient has become which marinade you buy.

But serious marinade users don't merely soak the meat in the marinade (which Mr. Tidbit notes is the process called "marinating," from which the word "marinade" was formed), they load some marinade into an injector and squirt it into the meat.

And now mustard maker French's has brought something new to the world of marinade-squirting: little disposable syringe-packets preloaded with your choice of four marinades.

Prepared marinades typically come in 16-ounce bottles. A French's Flavor Infuser costs $2.49 at one store, in the same price range as an average such bottled marinade. But it holds just 3.5 ounces, not 16. Granted, 3.5 ounces might be all the marinade a reasonable person would want to squirt. Still.

If that reasonable person thinks that injecting less than 3.5 ounces would be sufficient, perhaps hoping to spread the cost of a Flavor Infuser over several marinade occasions, that reasonable person should think again: Because after use the product will be contaminated with raw meat, the label of the Flavor Infuser carries two warnings: SINGLE USE ONLY and DO NOT REUSE.

Flummoxed by fruit

There are two new flavors of Newtons Fruit Thins, the cookies that are like round graham crackers containing a little oatmeal and tiny bits of dried fruit. Mr. Tidbit ordinarily wouldn't mention this development, except that one of the new flavors is coconut, which gave him pause: Coconut is a fruit?

Apparently so. Mr. Tidbit learned that coconut is a drupe (a fruit with a stony covering enclosing the seed; a peach is one). He must acknowledge that calling the new flavor Newtons Drupe Thins would not have helped much.

Al Sicherman