Lately it's being said quite frequently that consumers' preferences in food products are shifting toward "natural," "simple" and less-processed groceries. Probably so, but Mr. Tidbit is pretty sure that there remains a sizable collection of folks who happily buy such offerings as the latest "limited edition" Oreo cookie (it's Toasted Coconut Oreos in 10.7-ounce bags — for the same price as the 14.3-ounce bag of regular Oreos).
And consider the latest product from General Mills' Old El Paso brand. The flattened-fold Old El Paso Stand 'N Stuff tacos are now available in flavors. Please understand: Mr. Tidbit is not speaking of flavors that might be added to whatever filling you put into the tacos; he means that the Old El Paso Stand 'N Stuff taco shells are themselves flavored (your choice of Bold Ranch or Bold Nacho Cheese).
The flavored taco shells are, of course, more expensive than the regular ones. (Mr. Tidbit's Rule: Every spinoff grocery product costs more than the original one.) And in this case, there are extra ingredients in the new ones, so there is some added cost to manufacture them. But even Mr. Tidbit was shocked to see the price:
At the discount store where he first found the new flavored items, a box of 10 ordinary Old El Paso Stand 'N Stuff taco shells (totaling 4.7 ounces) was $1.39. A box of 10 of either of the "bold" flavored Stand 'N Stuff taco shells (totaling 5.4 ounces) was $2.49 — 91 percent more.
That might be some kind of mistake, Mr. Tidbit thought, or the malevolent doings of a Third World hacker, so he checked another source: At that store, the regular taco shells were $1.49 and the flavored ones were $2.99 — 101 percent more. "Bold" indeed.
Starbucks' supermarket four-pack of Frappuccino beverages is getting some competition from two brands of upscale coffee. But it's not price competition: At one store, where the four 9.5-ounce bottles of Frappuccino are $6.49 — 17 cents an ounce — an 11.1-ounce brick-pack of Gevalia iced coffee with almond milk, sold in the refrigerated case, was $2.49 — 22 cents an ounce. And a 9.5-ounce bottle of Issimo Mochaccino from Illy (an even-higher-priced coffee brand than Gevalia), also sold chilled, was also $2.49 — 26 cents per ounce.