IT Started With Ice Cream
It started with ice cream. For as many years as I can remember, I would buy three half-gallon boxes of ice cream for my family of 3. A variety of flavors, so each of us could eat what we liked. One-half gallon = 64 oz. I understand that three half gallons is a lot of ice cream, but my family far exceeded the average U.S. yearly ice cream consumption of 5 ½ gallons per person. I didn’t say I was proud of it; I’m just giving you the facts.
This half-gallon buying continued for years. Then one day in the late 1990s, a friend pointed out to me that the “half-gallon” of ice cream was now 62 oz., rather than 64 oz., which is standard U.S. measurement for a half-gallon, but the price was the same. The manufacturer figured, rightly so, that no one would notice a 2 oz. difference, thus they could boost their profits a little. I grumbled a bit but kept buying the 62 oz. of ice cream at the 64 oz. price.
Then came the mid-2000’s, and I noticed that 62 oz. had suddenly turned into 58 oz. Same price. Hey, wait a minute. That’s an EIGHT OUNCE difference. They took EIGHT OUNCES out of my ice cream and are still charging the same price. (Actually, the price had risen quite substantially, just as a matter of time, as all prices do.) At that point, I was getting angry. Not so much that they took 8 oz. of my ice cream. I certainly wasn’t happy about that, but what disturbed me more was that they thought I was so stupid that I would remain blissfully unaware and pay the price without complaining. I, and those friends I surveyed about this travesty, agreed that we would rather they raised the price than stealthily reduce the amount.
Fast forward to the year 2021, and that 64 oz half gallon is a quart and a half – 48 oz. The price is of course much higher than two decades ago, and I am left with nothing but a quart and a half of ice cream and my complaints.
I began by stating that “it started with ice cream” because while I was sitting home whining, other product manufacturers were rejoicing in board rooms across the country. The ice cream companies have a great idea for stealthily raising prices right under consumers’ unsuspecting noses, they gleefully realized.
And so it spread. A 24 oz. cereal box became a 22 oz. box, then an 18 oz. box. The price was never reduced. A 20 oz. bottle of water became 16.9 oz. A 300-sheet roll of toilet paper became 264 sheets.
So for more than two and a half decades, I have put up with companies insulting my intelligence by continually reducing the amount of product they give me while increasing the price, thinking I am too dumb to notice. However, it was today’s trip to the supermarket that put me over the edge and prompted this story.
Being a chocolate lover………a bona fide chocoholic……….I have always bought chocolate gifts for friends, figuring they would enjoy them as much as I did. The Russell Stover one-pound box of assorted chocolates is my “go-to” Christmas gift. Did I say “one pound”? For the last few years, the one pound (16 oz.) has been 12 oz. I grumbled as much about the ounce reduction of the chocolates as I did about the ice cream, water, cereal, and every other product, but put up with it and paid the 16 oz. price because the chocolates were so good. This week, Publix had the Russell Stover box on a BOGO sale, which means Buy one; get one free; One box was $10, the same price it has been for years, but now I could get two for $10. Oh, boy. I was excited. Each of my Mah Jong buddies was going to get her own box of chocolates from me for Christmas. But when I went to the display table, something looked very “off”. The box of chocolates looked like it had undergone the same bariatric surgery as me. It was noticeably skinny. Yeah, I know I’m not skinny, but I am half the size I was, as this box appeared to be. (Do stay tuned for stories about my weight loss journey.) I picked up the box and read 9 ounces. NINE OUNCES?????? NINE, from what used to be SIXTEEN, even if I had put up with TWELVE the last few years, was too much for me to tolerate, half price or not. I was furious and refused to buy it. You're not going to shave 7 oz. off my box of chocolates and expect me not to notice it. I'm a chocoholic, not an idiot.
My little boycotting temper tantrum is not going to change a thing. My pantry will still be filled with smaller water bottles, smaller toilet paper rolls (After the nightmare shortages of 2020, I’m lucky to have ANY toilet paper, never mind complain about the size of it.), smaller boxes of EVERYTHING, all costing more than when their sizes were larger, and there isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. Except write venting stories lamenting the situation.
About the author
Retired - Speech/language therapist, Special Education Asst, English teacher
Websites: www.thealzheimerspouse.com; talktimewithjoan.com
Whimsical essays, short stories -funny, serious, and thought-provoking