OK… have you seen this picture? Looks to me like the checkout aisle has grown a lot L-A-R-G-E-R for some reason. Well…did you notice a wider aisle? Longer belt to put your items on? Try again…
If you have been to any supermarket lately, you’ve definitely seen the new marketing strategy by the candy makers. I didn’t really notice it until my 7-year old wanted a bag of Skittles and showed me the package he asked to buy.
Upon looking down I noted the new sizing of bags, bars, packs and containers! My wife, of course, said there was no way we were buying that much sugar and proceeded to go to other racks looking for the normal size bags. No dice. You get KING SIZE or nothing. Sorry – in this case it was Tear and Share… my bad!
Didn’t these people see Morgan Spurlock’s SuperSize Me? The movie started a revolution in the fast food industry – specifically at McDonald’s, who was the test subject of the month-long experiment. Super sizing started to go away as people began to see the dangers of these meals and the caloric content they were putting in their mouths and bodies, for a few cents more. Spurlock was one of the first human guinea pigs to put his own body through a test to get results.
A reference to over indulging in sugary foods from Livestrong’s Journal: The USDA says added sugar combined with solid fat can contribute more than 800 additional calories on average to the American diet, making it trickier to consume adequate amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals without taking in excess calories. (see more)
Note: If you want to eat these sugar items, EXTRA value meals, jugs o’ soft drink, etcetera, please go ahead. I am not here to say I am St. Healthy. I’ve had my share of value meals and jugs o’ soda in my life – and thank God I learned the error of my ways before it was too late.
A little FYI: I have an MBA. I am NOT a nutritionist, dietician or even a perfect eater! I am researching this to help my family make informed choices and possibly help yours in the process. Also, manufacturers still make smaller packages of their products and you CAN find them in stores.
So, back to these new packages that seem to be popping up everywhere. I have to investigate and see what the differences are. Let’s look at three candies for our examples: Kit Kat, Peanut M&Ms and the aforementioned Skittles.
Kit Kat – serving size: 1 bar. 210 calories, 22g of sugar
Peanut M&Ms – serving size: 1 bag. 250 calories, 25g of sugar
Skittles – serving size: 1 bag. 240 calories, 45g of sugar
Shareable Size packaging (referred to as Tear and Share or King Size):
Kit Kat – the nutritional information not available at time of writing.
Peanut M&Ms – serving size: 1/2 bag. 240 calories, 23g of sugar
Skittles – serving size: 1/3 bag. 150 calories, 28g of sugar.
I love the definition of shareable – capable of being shared? YES! The bags are CAPABLE of being shared. Maybe that is the reasoning for the larger bags – the companies want to develop a sense of unity where people share their bags of candy. Yeah, explain that to a 7-year old. If you want to TEACH your 7-year old something, here is a science experiment that may help tie some of this together.
So, let’s put these into a different light, so you can see some comparisons… an 8-ounce container of yogurt contains about 28 grams of added sugar, or 7-teaspoons. Yes, TEASPOONS of sugar. A 12-ounce can of soft drink (ie. Coca-Cola Classic, Pepsi or Doctor Pepper) contains around 40 grams, or 10 teaspoons of added sugar. Now, look back at the candy counts above and use the 4 grams per teaspoon sugar measurement: that regular size bag of Peanut M&Ms is now six teaspoons of sugar and the shareable bag is now 14 teaspoons of sugar – or more than a can of Pepsi. Of course, I have to make you aware of the serving size of the KING SIZE bag again – 1/2 bag – as if anyone stops themselves at half a bag! Hmmm… maybe another reason for marketing?
Could the marketers be trying to reverse a trend they started in 2008-09? This was the time when packages where getting compacted, yet the prices were either staying constant or slightly rising. Here is a blog post that sheds a little light on this marketing phenomenon – from the dimple in the Skippy peanut butter jars to the half-filed boxes of product we see from some manufacturers. Are we trying to change the trend by having larger packages?
So, where are we? I do not have any conclusive proof as to why these packages are appearing everywhere. The large sizes used to be an option – if you wanted a little more, or were actually going to share it – you could buy the larger size (by the way, a King Size Snickers bar DOES NOT taste the same as a regular size – something about the disproportionate combination of caramel and nougat, I guess). Now the choices are large size or larger size – like buying a soft drink at Hardee’s. Hardee’s, however, let’s you know up front it is the place to buy the Thickburger, the $5 Sack Lunch, etcetera – it is out front before you walk in the door and on all of their advertising.
Candy is a different story. Children are accustomed to having candy for many reasons… now parents have to be more diligent than ever. Moderation with candy in children is akin to moderation with alcohol in adults. Parents have to be that guardian that gives the child a handful of candy at a time instead of the entire bag. Yes, I said it – it goes back to parenting once again. Not only policing the amount of can soft drinks the child has throughout the day, but the bigger (literally) items now appearing on the horizon.
Shareable may be the nice, kind, loving way – however, when candy is given to a child, the stopping point is usually a tummy ache. From what? Yep, too much sugar.
To put a wrap on this package, I’ll finish the supermarket story about my son. We DID buy the large bag of Skittles. My wife opened them and gave him a small handful – and put the rest in her pocketbook. The funny part? He forgot about them for several days until he saw the bag in the side pocket of her purse.
Whatever you do, protect your family. You are their guardian and protector and need to be diligent in your decision making. Breathe. Believe. Receive. Laugh. Love. Live!