Actual fruit

There's something new in the instant-oatmeal aisle. Fruit. No, not dried chips of peach-flavored apples. Not even dried chips of peaches. Actual peaches. And actual blueberries. And actual apples.

Mr. Tidbit is speaking of the three varieties of Dole's new Fruit & Oatmeal: Peaches & Vanilla Walnut, Blueberries & Cream and Apples & Brown Sugar. They're sold in cartons containing two add-water microwave cups each containing 1.25 ounces of instant oatmeal, and two little 2-ounce tubs of the real fruit in light syrup. At the store where he found them, the two-packs were $2.99, or $1.50 per serving.

The closest comparison may be Quaker Real Medleys (Peach Almond, for example), which also come in add-water microwave cups. They contain a 2.64-ounce blend of oatmeal, other grains, dried chips of the named fruit and some nuts. At that store, Real Medleys were $1.59, for a prepared serving that is about 20 percent larger than Dole's. But it's dried fruit.

Moving down a big step, Quaker's instant oatmeal line with such entries as Peaches & Cream also contains dried fruit, but the peaches are peach-flavored chips of dried apple. It's $2.54 for a box of 10 1.51-ounce packets (25 cents a serving; 50 cents for a prepared serving comparable to the above make-in-the-cup cereals).

Dole sells cups of real fruit, suggesting another possibility: Quaker's plain instant oatmeal is $2.54 for a box of 12 0.98-ounce packets; that's 21 cents for a serving slightly smaller than Dole's. (To even that up, add a fourth of another packet for a nickel.) And a four-pack of 4-ounce tubs of Dole diced peaches in fruit juice is $2.24 (56 cents each). So for 82 cents you could make a serving the size of Dole's — with twice the real fruit.

Important importing

Bertolli, Unilever's Italian-food brand, which produces a line of 16 pasta sauces, has introduced three Gold Label premium sauces, each featuring an imported ingredient: Imported Balsamic Vinegar with Caramelized Onion, Imported Asiago Cheese with Artichokes and Imported Porcini Mushroom with White Truffle Oil.

Mr. Tidbit isn't sure how much those ingredients should add to the price. Where he found these new sauces, the jars of Bertolli's regular red sauces were $2.04 — and the same size jars of the new sauces were $5.99.

Al Sicherman