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All The World’s An Island: Size really does matter

It started out at four inches, now it’s down to three and a half.

It’s the latest proportion reduction of my favorite candy bar.

You say you went to your doctor for your annual physical and he said you needed to lose two, three, fifty pounds? Be aware, very aware: there is a devious practice taking place. You know what I mean: some in the food industry are determined to sell less product for the same or greater price. To be fair, the costs to the food giants in the industry have increased. But just take a gander at some of these examples of deception:

The serving size of most dry cereals is a half cup. Now measure it out and take a good look. Do you know anyone except a small child who might be satisfied with that miniscule amount? A cup of cereal might do, but at double the calories. How about that carton of ice cream, no longer a half-gallon? It is routinely sold at the same price as its former half-gallon size, so when it’s on sale at a reduced price, it’s still no bargain compared to its previous pricing. Then there’s the bottle of juice, no longer a quart. Same shell game. If you’re a soda drinker, you may see your favorite one-litre bottle now less than a litre but still priced at a dollar. There is no fan-fare announcing the switch. Years ago in Daytona Beach a grocery store routinely ran an ad in the local newspaper for four 4 ½ ounce cans of tuna for sale at $3.00 which worked out to $0.75 cents a can, but you could buy the six ounce can at $0.55 a can or four cans for $2.20. When I asked the manager one day why they kept running the ad when it was more expensive per ounce to buy the $3.00 special, he answered that buyers didn’t bother doing the math so of course they kept running the ad. They are no dummies. They are counting on the public—us—to be the dummies.

The overall gist of the deception in food packaging and pricing? Decrease the size of a container while maintaining its appearance and keeping the price firm. Or increase the size of a container, tell consumers it’s “20 percent more free” and charge 20 percent more for it than five years ago.

The importance of diligently reading the fine print came to my attention recently when my husband bought kippered herring. I admit it, I’m a fan of any variety of kippers. He pointed out “There’s 18 gms of protein in this tin. That would be a healthy start to a breakfast.”

Scrutinising closely, I agreed. “Yes, 18 gms of protein—and 440 calories.”

“What?” he exclaimed, grabbing the tin and checking the label for the fine print.

“Well, half of the tin served on toast points or crackers would be a nice 9 gram, 220 calorie meal. Plus the calories in the crackers. Plus a serving of fruit.”

“Oh…” he said, deflated.

I’ve been seeing a lot of that lately. Ah, but there’s a healthy meal in that tin of kippered herring yet! Better still, give me a well-grilled steak at almost any price.

Need I point out the fruit juice versus the fruit cocktail scam? It’s a whole lot cheaper to add corn syrup to juice to stretch it, than to package the real thing, 100 percent juice. The words “fruit cocktail” may be printed in a small font and located somewhere else on the label. The manufacturer hopes you won’t notice you’re not buying the real thing. It can be difficult to even find the small print on some products to know just what you’re buying.

The behind-the-scenes gurus in the fashion industry are every bit as crafty. You’re a size 2 you say? Be real—you used to wear a size 10! Some manufacturers reduce the size tag—not the garment—in women’s clothing in direct proportion to our need to fool ourselves that we’re skinnier. One inch in your waist represents about five pounds. According to some sources, it takes a weight loss of about ten pounds, or two inches, to drop one size. Do the math. Are you really several sizes smaller?

It used to be that Canadian women’s sizes were a higher number for the same physical size, but that’s not true anymore. With the dizzying array of size categories from juniors, to petites, to misses, to womens, to plus sizes, men have nothing to complain about—we’ve got all the headaches!


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