Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Paying more, getting less

Just came back from lunch and a quick trip to CVS. I bought a package of Hershey's Kisses to stock the communal candy bowl, and it hit me: same price as a few weeks ago, but much smaller package.

CVS has the Peeps out, too -- the Easter candy happily commingling with the Valentine's Day treats. And they're also costing more. Last year the little boxes of 5 Peeps each ran about 50 cents; this year they're 75.

Taken a look at ice cream recently? The two quart container or brick is swiftly vanishing --Publix might have some store brand ice cream that's still available in two quart containers, but Edys, Breyers, and the rest have all dropped down to 1.5 quarts, which sells for what the two quart sizes used to be priced at.

This has been a subtle way for companies to hike prices without alarming consumers for years. Coffee used to come in 1-pound containers, but went to being sold in 12-ounce cans or bricks a long, long time ago. Yogurt did it a year or so ago. Dannon used to come in 8-ounce cups; now it's sold in 6-ounce, as are its competitors.

Jim Hightower had a piece in the Progressive Populist a few issues back on this topic. He mentioned the deceptive packaging cereal companies are using. The boxes stay the same height and width, but aren't as deep when they're standing upright on the shelf. They look almost the same, the price stays the same, but eventually you realize you're getting two ounces less product per package. After reading the Hightower article, I found myself wondering about some of the convenience items we use, like Green Giant's Stir Fry/Create A Meal. When we first started buying them, the packages said they made four servings. Now they make three, but Create A Meals cost the same (or more) as they did before. You can't win.

Although I shouldn't complain about grocery packaging being deceptive. One of the stealth price hikes that has always amused me is the way fast food places go about it: they run ads touting the fact that their cheeseburgers or subs or special chicken sandwiches are now "Only $2.99!!!" and so make it seem like a special low price when the reality is it's a price hike -- they haven't lowered the price from anything; they've actually upped it and are hoping we're all too baffled by the bullshit to notice.


  1. I'm mad as a wet hen...Oreo's are the bane of my hips, but usually they came in a three tray pack. Now it is a two tray pack for the SAME price. It's getting way too expensive to work on my designer figure.

    your word verification: okshoot????

  2. i noticed that years ago when all of a sudden the 5lb bag of sugar was all of a sudden 4 lbs...and we got some stuff in at the store the other day(when i was still working) that the packages used to be 17oz and now is 15 oz, but the price is the same..they have been doing it for years..coffee is the same as the ice cream..smaller..same price..sigh*

  3. I will spend many minutes ferreting out the 1/2 gallons of ice cream at Publix. I think we've reached the end of that rope.

  4. Canned tuna used to be 7 1/2 oz, then 7 oz, then 6 1/2 oz, and now it's 6 oz per can. Old recipes are out of date. Now meals are skimpy, or I have to use 2 packages and make too much.

    Toilet paper rolls were shortened to the point where they had to bring out double and triple rolls. These are actually the same number of sheets that we used to buy as the one-size roll.

    I actually prefer the 6 oz yogurt to the 8 oz as a single serving, but shorting the contents at the same price is just wrong.


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