Ch- ch- ch- Christmas

Mr. Tidbit has made no attempt whatever to keep up with the overwhelming multiplication of products from Kashi (the "seven whole grains on a mission" company). But the latest two of that firm's now 27 kinds of granola bars have an ingredient that, until now, would show up in stores only in December (or, OK, November — or, these days, October), to remind us that Christmas is coming and we need to find an odd but inexpensive gift.

Yes, both Kashi Berry Lemonade and Kashi Chocolate Almond & Sea Salt chewy granola bars contain chia. If you guessed that chia is the seasonal gift to which Mr. Tidbit referred, you deserve a very brief hand. (Clap on. Clap off.)

Simply unusual

Mr. Tidbit must now acknowledge that until recently he thought he would run into such ingredients as chia, triticale and kamut only at Whole Foods or the co-op. But not only have such brands as Kashi and many others that Mr. Tidbit might once have thought of as the health-food-store contingent made the leap to mainstream supermarkets, but those unusual ingredients are even turning up in some stores' house-brand products.

Separately, Mr. Tidbit is not surprised that Target would have entries in the "Simply Simple" branding trend that he has been documenting recently. He's referring to the emergence of lines of products with such claims as no artificial flavors or colors, no preservatives, no high-fructose corn syrup and so on: What Mr. Tidbit might describe as "no ingredients you wouldn't find in your pantry."

Imagine Mr. Tidbit's surprise to find, while browsing distractedly at Target, that although many of the products in that store's Simply Balanced brand merely belong to the no-chemistry-set set and are just rebranded Archer Farms items, some, such as Simply Balanced brown rice crackers, also have ingredients that wouldn't be found in most folks' pantries — but not because they are artificial ingredients. No, they are very natural ingredients, from that health-food-store set.

The full name on that box of Target crackers is "Simply Balanced gluten-free multigrain with flax brown rice crackers," and they also contain quinoa, millet, amaranth and (of course) sea salt.

Al Sicherman