Chex Party Mix gets a makeover, going upscale and cheap at the same time


It must be quite a conundrum for businesses to advertise their way through this lousy economy. Financial companies are having a hard time figuring out how to sell their wares to wary consumers -- does experience really count when you're only afloat because of a federal bailout? So now Chex Party Mix enters the fray with a new advertising campaign, and maybe they are a good example of riding both sides of the rail at the same time.

A New Look for Old Brands

Chex Mix, as originally envisioned, was a cheap party snack -- one of those "mother of necessity" inventions like the Toll House Cookie, where a housewife took what she had on hand to pull together something at the last minute to feed people. Back in 1955, it was pretty economical too -- just some cereal, some seasonings you'd have around the house and some extras like nuts or pretzels.

Now, however, if you've got a big box of Chex mix in your pantry, it's probably one of the more expensive items on the shelf. And if you've got the branded Chex Party Mix -- already flavored for your convenience -- you've probably paid even more per ounce. That's where the gourmet part of this comes in.

The new marketing campaign from General Mills is pitching Chex Party Mix as a gourmet snack, and pitching a recipe contest with chef Katie Lee Joel, (yes, she's married to Billy Joel). Interested parties can vote for their favorite of the five recipes presented: Original Chex Party Mix, Cheesy Ranch Chex Mix, Chex Muddy Buddies, Chocolate Chex Caramel Crunch and Cinnamon-Apple Chex Mix. All are supposed to take 15 minutes to prepare in the microwave. Or you can just head to the store and shell out for the packaged variety.

Many families will be struggling this holiday season -- buying fewer gifts, eating in and cutting back on spending on holiday entertaining. The truth is that many people will probably be creating a few new "recession specials" born out of financial necessity. One key one would be to develop a Chex Party Mix type of snack that you can make with generic cereal, or some much more inexpensive home-cooked grain. Crunchy farina party mix, anyone?