Saturday, March 20, 2010

South Roxbury Living

When I wake up in the morning it's unlikely that I will eat breakfast. But if I don't eat breakfast I'm bound for 10:30 a.m. crash at work. Over the years I've experimented with various "fast" breakfast options.

Pop Tarts would be the obvious, economical option, but one summer many years ago, my camp bought a full truckload of pop tarts. In the past pop tarts had been a treat, processed food reserved as a special treat for afternoon nosh, or as prizes for camp games, but that summer we were offered pop tarts at every meal. Quickly I came to understand pop tarts for what they really were: packing peanuts reprocessed into crumbly rectangles with a layer of sweet,non-adhesive glue barely bonding them together, and a brittle layer of sugar glass on top. Plus, even with fortification I'm pretty sure they have less nutritional value than a spoonful of potting soil.

Pop tarts were not an option.

I tried some liquid-breakfast options, but my innards were not impressed, and besides, they tended to have about the same nutritional value as a glass of milk, but at double the price. Nutri-grain bars were an improvement on Pop tarts in texture, but still didn't feel like more than an over-processed fruit bar sprinkled with a bit of oatmeal.

I soon forayed into breakfast protein bars and settled on "South Beach Living" bars, as "not awful." The chocolate-berry and cinnamon-raisin bars were nearly even "okay." The best had a little give, a little chewiness to them. Regardless, at 10 grams of protein per bar and assorted vitamins and about $.50 per bar I figured that the nutritional price was right.

Well two things happened. First, the boxes, which had been 2 for $5, went up in price. Not a large amount, but they passed a psychological affordability barrier. Then it became clear that they were not restocking the best flavors. Cinnamon-raisin was gone first, then chocolate-berry, till finally all that remained were the peanut bars, which were the least palatable.

One week my Hy-Vee announced the change with one of their coupons:

Finally the reason became clear, South Beach had decided to do a redesign. No big deal, and the coupon restored the boxes to their previous boffo value.

The new boxes shifted the KRAFT trademark from the upper right corner to the left and in it's place proudly proclaimed that these protein fit bars had "Twice the Protein of the Leading Cereal Bar."

In smaller font the box indicated the amount of protein: 8 grams.

So, KRAFT added some cursive, and removed their assertion that their cereal bars were a "Nutritious Way To Help Satisfy Hunger." And while they were doing this redesign they also lowered the protein content of the bars by 20%.

There's a small mathematical part of me very disappointed that South Beach Living Protein Fit Bars which once contained 20% of my minimum RDA of protein now only contain %15. If they had instantly restocked my favorite flavors I'd probably ignore it and carry on. I bet they even taste slightly better now that they have fewer dessicated soy krispies, or whatever they did to bulk up the protein.

I'd tell you to stop buying South Beach Living Protein Fit Bars, but I assume you already had more sense than that. For me, it may be time to start waking up 15 minutes earlier so I can make eggs and toast.

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