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July 28, 2014

Candy-bar ‘bites’ take a bite out of wallets

Unless you don’t ever shop for candy bars, you may well have noticed the sudden profusion of bags of unwrapped miniature versions of those bars.

Unless you don’t ever shop for candy bars, you may well have noticed the sudden profusion of bags of unwrapped miniature versions of those bars.

Mr. Tidbit is speaking here of what are called “Bites” in the Mars candy family (Milky Way, Snickers, etc.) and “Minis” in the Hershey family (Kit Kat, York, etc.) — not “fun size,” “miniature,” “snack size” or other small versions, which are sold in bags but are individually wrapped (think Halloween).

Raise your hand if you can think of a reason that candy makers might want to offer their products in this new configuration.

Yes, Billy, “Why not?” is a good reason. Let’s write that as, “Marketing opportunity.”

And Susie’s right, too: They can sell these to people who don’t want to eat a whole candy bar at a time. Let’s write, “Self-deluded purchasers.”

But let’s think a little harder. Yes: You in the back row — the cynical-looking person. You are correct! The new ones cost more per ounce!

At a convenience store, Mr. Tidbit found each of these products next to the “king-size” or double-bar version, and with the same shelf price.

The Milky Way “2 to Go” double bar weighs 3.63 ounces; the bag of Milky Way Bites, for the same price, weighs 2.83 ounces. That’s 28 percent more per ounce. The king-size Kit Kat bar weighs 3.0 ounces; the bag of Kit Kat Minis weighs 2.2 ounces. That’s 36 percent more per ounce.

Mr. Tidbit sincerely hopes you weren’t surprised.

We already had many ways to buy Craisins, Ocean Spray’s trademarked sweetened dried cranberries:

Original; three kinds of juice-infused — cherry, blueberry and pomegranate (when Mr. Tidbit last checked, in 2005, before we all wanted antioxidants, it was cherry, orange and strawberry); reduced sugar (sweetened with sugar and Sucralose); and two kinds of trail mix (Cranberries & Chocolate and Fruit & Nut). All of those products come in 5-ounce bags that sell for the same price — at one store, that’s $2.79 (56 cents per ounce).

Now there are two more kinds of Craisins: milk chocolate-covered and Greek yogurt-covered. They come in hard-to-compare 8-ounce bags and at the same store sell for $4.99 (62 cents per ounce).

Mr. Tidbit is a weekly feature that examines new grocery products.

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