Mr. Tidbit has seen some strange things, but he doesn’t recall ever seeing a product and a new virtually identical competing product coming from the same company.
But that’s the case with new Kool-Aid gelatin dessert. It’s made by the Kraft Foods Group, which also makes Jell-O. The Kool-Aid box carries the iconic Kool-Aid pitcher, but otherwise there is almost no difference between the 3-ounce packages, and when Mr. Tidbit and two of his little friends tried the grape version of each, they found no apparent difference in flavor. Both desserts even had the identical amethyst color. (Mr. Tidbit would have called it “purple,” but his little friends are much more graphics-oriented.)
There is one difference, though: Where Mr. Tidbit found them, the box of Jell-O sold for 67 cents; the Kool-Aid gelatin was 73 cents. That’s 9 percent more.
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A few weeks ago, Mr. Tidbit discussed his somewhat delayed discovery of Uncle Ben’s new basmati rice and jasmine rice, which cook in 10 minutes (and Uncle Ben’s two-serving Ready Rice versions of basmati and jasmine rice, which microwave in 90 seconds and are so old that the packages don’t even say “new”). He marveled that the once-exotic rices had begun turning up as brand-name staples.
Since then, he discovered that he had still failed to notice several other related brand-name products, not one of which apparently is new. There’s Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice brown basmati rice, and entries from two other rice purveyors:
Success Rice sells jasmine and basmati rice in 14-ounce boxes (eight boil-in-bag servings) at essentially the same per-ounce price as the Uncle Ben’s 10-minute products.
And there’s Minute Rice jasmine rice in a two-pack of single-serving microwave tubs. Where he found it, it’s a little cheaper than the Uncle Ben’s microwave products. But all the microwave rices are much more expensive per serving than any of the rices that require you to get out a pan. Serving sizes are inconsistent, but the cost of a serving of one of the microwaved aromatic rices is roughly triple that of one of the you-boil-it versions.
Minute Rice apparently also sells boil-in-the bag jasmine and basmati rices, but Mr. Tidbit hasn’t found them on the shelf anywhere. Yet.
Mr. Tidbit is a weekly feature that examines new grocery products.