Thursday, September 13, 2007

Where'd the Chips Go?

I was in the grocery today, learning the layout of a store that's new to me because we just moved here a few weeks ago, when I spotted some cheese potato chips. Mmmmm....too good to pass up.

One bag looked a bit different than the rest and had an expiration date of two days ago. The rest of the bags had an updated design in the same color scheme, and an expiration date in November. All of them were the same price.

I soon discovered that not only were the new bags a different design, they also had a different weight on them: a new bag of chips weighed nearly an ounce less than the old one.

I know, big deal, one less handful of chips. But these kinds of little changes add up. Food companies are raising prices like mad these days, and they know we're more likely to notice a higher price than a smaller quantity for the same price, so they shrink the product just a bit every so often.

This explains why a recipe I tore out of the newspaper when I was a newlywed back in the 70s calls for a 7-ounce can of tuna. Good luck finding that size today! Over the years, a can of tuna has declined in 1/4 oz. increments; now tuna comes in 6 oz. cans. By the way, the price of a can of tuna has also gone up over time, but we didn't realize how much because part of the price increase was "hidden" by a microscopically smaller can.

One more example: a few years ago you could buy a two-quart container of ice cream; now almost all the brands are 1.75 quarts, and the price certainly hasn't dropped.

The frustrating thing about this is that all of these examples are of products you can't easily replicate at home. I can make eight dozen cookies for the retail cost of a package of Chips Ahoy, and a lovely loaf of bread for far less than Sara Lee charges. But making potato chips and ice cream, not to mention raising my own school of tuna, are far more labor-intensive pursuits!


Janet said...

While we're griping....:-)

I really don't like the fact that all the politicians are talking about how overweight everyone is, and how it's an epidemic, etc, yet the price of FRUIT (which is HEALTHY!) is SO expensive. If you want people to be thinner, LOWER THE PRICES of the stuff that's GOOD for you!

There! There's my gripe for the day. :-)

Lostcheerio said...

If only the smaller portions came with smaller waistlines. I would be so into that.

We tried making potato chips once. Slice very thin, bake on a cookie sheet, very lovely. But labor intensive. ;)

Rona's Home Page said...

Thanks for the insight.
How are you enjoying your new home?

Lauren said...

Actually, maybe you know this, but making ice cream is pretty easy. Especially with small children who like to roll those large coffee tins around until the recipe solidifies. Here's a recipe--personally I like mint or fresh wildberries :)

Barbara Frank said...

Thanks for the recipe, Lauren!