Tidbits: New shelf-stable single-serve microwave dinners

Shelf-stable dinners

It might have been happening over some time and gone unnoticed by Mr. Tidbit, but as far as he can tell there is a sudden appearance of new brands of shelf-stable single-serve microwave dinners. Three examples, all providing roughly the same amount of food:

Progresso Creamy Garlic Parmesan Pasta (add hot water, stir and microwave 4 to 5 minutes; $1.09 at one discount store); also from General Mills, Old El Paso Cheesy Nacho Bowl (rice, cheese sauce, tomatoes, etc.; add hot water, stir and microwave 4 to 5 minutes, $1.19 at that store), and Barilla Chicken Alfredo (Alfredo sauce with white meat chicken and rotini; complete, just microwave for 1 minute, $2.39 at that store).

Sweet & spicy what?

There appears to be a new category of Nature Valley granola bars. It joins the seven Sweet & Salty Nut granola bars, 10 Crunchy granola bars, four Trail Mix granola bars, two Fruteria granola bars and three Granola Thins bars. It’s Sweet & Spicy granola bars.

For the moment, at least, there’s only one bar in the category: Chili Dark Chocolate, which contains peanuts, oats, chocolate chunks, almonds and pumpkin seeds. And for flavor, in addition to cayenne pepper powder, there’s cinnamon, giving the granola experience what Mr. Tidbit would say was a familiar Red Hots quality.

Now! Something!

Mr. Tidbit acknowledges that he has never been required to come up with an improvement on some food product that can be shouted about on the package, preferably in a phrase beginning with the word “Now.” It can’t be easy. Still …

In the newspaper recently, he encountered a cluster of three advertisements for General Mills products that touted such improvements. Two were pretty normal: Pillsbury Toaster Strudel “Now with 30% MORE ICING,” and Hamburger Helper “Now with 20% MORE rice!” (or “20% MORE pasta!”).

It was the third ad that caused Mr. Tidbit to write all of the preceding, just to set it up: Nature Valley crunchy granola bars “NOW better crunch, EASIER TO BITE!” Mr. Tidbit hadn’t tried them before the change, so he can only imagine the frustrated consumers who, unable to bite their crunchy granola bars until now, have been using them as hot pads.

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