Some crumby news

Mr. Tidbit hadn't thought of it this way before, but our nation's supermarket shoppers might be divided, theoretically, into two groups: those who know that there are seven kinds of Shake 'N Bake, and those who know what panko is. And now those two great streams of humanity are joined in one amazing product: Seasoned Panko Shake 'N Bake.

For the benefit of those who haven't followed Shake 'N Bake, the seasoned crumb mix for baking crispy chicken or pork, since the days of the TV commercial with the little girl from the deep South — "It's Shike 'N Bike, an' Ah hepped" — we already had such flavor variations as Ranch & Herb and Crispy Buffalo, and there's even a BBQ Glaze Shake 'N Bake, which isn't crispy at all.

And for the benefit of those to whom panko sounds like it might be a game on "The Price Is Right," it is a kind of crunchy bread crumb that originated in Japan. The bread is "baked" with electricity, not oven heat. When crushed, it produces large, airy, jagged crumbs that are crunchier than regular crumbs because they don't absorb as much liquid or grease.

And yes, the open quote mark in front of the N in Shake 'N Bake should be an apostrophe and not a single quotation mark — Shake 'N Bake — but Mr. Tidbit seldom gets satisfaction on such matters when he attempts to raise them with the grammar departments at major grocery firms.

Single-serve Philly

New from Kraft are one-ounce packets of Philadelphia cream cheese, sold in boxes of five. Mr. Tidbit can see only vaguely the utility of a packet of cream cheese that you can take with you, perhaps to work. But if this product absolutely calls out to you, Mr. Tidbit can't stop you from buying it.

You know, of course, that the "convenience" of this packaging will cost you. Where Mr. Tidbit saw it, it had the same price as Philadelphia's regular 8-ounce block of cream cheese. So it costs 60 percent more per ounce.

A sweet development

There are two new "sweet & salty" varieties of Combos, the baked pretzel/cracker/tortilla tubes from Mars (the candy company, not the planet). While the other six have cheese-based fillings, the two new pretzels are filled with caramel crème and vanilla frosting.

Al Sicherman