business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  The Wall Street Journal reports on the "throngs of Oreo fans who have been perturbed in recent years by what some feel could be one of the biggest inflation scandals to hit supermarkets to date: 'Double Stuf' Oreos with just a normal amount of creme, and even less in the original-sized versions. Some gripe that the filling no longer reaches the wafers’ edges. Others say the cookies now bear little resemblance to the creme-stuffed images on Oreo’s packaging.

"Oreos, made by snack giant Mondelez, have long attracted a devout following, making them the world’s best-selling cookie more than a century since their creation. Now, suspicion over subtle changes has prompted some devotees to protest what they believe is the latest cookie conspiracy, or try to suss out the truth about creme.

"Some fans are making videos of themselves twisting Oreos open to reveal scant filling. Others touted Hydrox, an Oreo competitor."

Mondelez denies the charge:  "Mondelez said it has used a variety of strategies in recent years to combat higher costs for ingredients such as cocoa and sugar, from raising wholesale prices to scaling back discounts to shrinking package sizes. It hasn’t fought inflation through big changes to its products, the company said, though it welcomes feedback from fans on how to make them better."

I checked with my family's resident Oreo aficionado - Mrs. Content Guy.  We don't eat as many Oreos as we used to, but they are a staple for this amazing Oreo ice cream cake that she always makes for my birthday.  She says that it is possible that there was a little less creme filling this year, but also raised another possibility - that Mondelez started cutting back on the creme years ago, and so it is technically accurate when it says that it hasn't made any changes recently to deal with inflation.

•  From USA Today:

"The superheated Sriracha shortage that made stomachs growl for a tangy sweet dash of spiciness is showing signs of cooling off.

"Green-capped bottles of Huy Fong Foods’ Sriracha sauce are slowly reappearing on grocery store shelves and restaurant tables. 

"Also easing are eye-watering price mark-ups by third party resellers that gave shoppers heartburn."

However, the company says that a "scarcity of sun-ripened red jalapeño chile peppers brought on by winter drought and climate shifts in the Southwest and Mexico is still curtailing production."  So some shortages could persist.

•  The Wall Street Journal reports about how Chipotle's founder has a new passion project:

"Chipotle founder Steve Ells built an empire on chicken and beef burritos made in assembly-line fashion. Now he’s dropping the meat and is adding machines.

"Ells early next year will open in Manhattan the first location of Kernel, serving meat-free sandwiches, salads and sides made to order. A skeleton crew will run the restaurants alongside robots, making faux chicken sandwiches and sides such as cucumbers with wild rice. 

"Customers’ orders are beamed to the kitchen, where a robotic arm puts food-laden pans into the oven. A programmed toaster flips a bun into the oven for warming, while conveyor belts move dishes through the kitchen. Workers finish off the dishes, package the food and slot it into cubbies for pickup … Kernel marks the 58-year-old entrepreneur’s first return to the food stage since 2020, when he stepped down as Chipotle’s executive chairman."