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December 14, 2015

Holy Cow, How Wise is Milkwise?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Health — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:03 am

Have you checked out the dairy aisle lately? There are all these newfangled milk products on the shelf, all claiming in one way or another to be better than plain old milk.

One such product in New England stores is Hood (brand) Milkwise.

MilkWise

It’s got one-third the sugar, almost half the calories, and 50 percent more calcium than even reduced fat milk. How did they do that… put the cows on a low fat and low carb diet?

The answer is in the fine print.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Milkwise ingredients

They watered it down — water is now the first ingredient — plus they added calcium and sugar. That is why it is called a “milk beverage” instead of milk. This product is reminiscent of Trop50, the “orange juice beverage” that claimed 50% fewer calories because it is basically orange juice diluted with a lot of water.

But the Milkwise label makes it seem so healthy. How can this be? The trick is that they left out one key attribute of milk in the comparison — protein. We’ve taken the liberty of filling in the blanks.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Milkwise protein

Milkwise only has one-quarter the protein of regular milk. Expressed the other way, regular milk has four times the protein of Milkwise.

Maybe it should be called Milk-not-so-wise.

Thanks to Dr. W who was driving along the highway in Saugus, Massachusetts and saw a Milkwise billboard with a mother and child. She thought the ad was suggesting that this was a healthier milk product.




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November 2, 2015

Lime-A-Way: Money Back (Not) Guaranteed

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:57 am

Lime-A-WayRecently, MrConsumer needed to clean some pavers that had a cloudy white stain on them. At the supermarket, he was attracted to Lime-A-Way bottles because of a sticker promising a full price rebate just to try the product. He could not read the terms of the rebate because the sticker was really a plastic envelope and one would have to tear along the perforation lines to remove the sticker and reveal the details that were inside.

After coming home, MrConsumer broke the seal to discover the rebate had actually expired about two months earlier. Drats.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Lime-A-Way Try Me

MrConsumer then checked the Lime-A-Way website, and right there on the homepage was a money back guarantee if you were not satisfied with the product’s performance.

Since in fact it did nothing to remove the cloudy white stain from the pavers, MrConsumer enclosed the receipt and the guarantee form from their website and sent it off to the company. A few weeks later, a surprise came in the mail:

lime-a-way envelope

It said “Return to Sender. Offer Expired. Box Closed.”

In fact, according to the form that was mailed in, the money back guarantee didn’t expire until December 31, 2015.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Lime-A-Way deadline

Two refund attempts… two failures. So we wrote to the PR folks at Reckitt Benckiser to ask why they didn’t put the expiration date of the “try me” rebate on the outside of the package so shoppers could see it in the store, and how is it that their P.O. box to accept refund requests through the end of the year was closed. Their UK headquarters forwarded our request to their US office, and no further response was received from the company. However, curiously, the Lime-A-Way website has been changed, and no longer has a money back guarantee.




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October 26, 2015

Reese’s Snack Sizes — Trick or Treat?

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:45 am

With Halloween just around the corner, what better time to examine some candy labels.

Nancy S. wrote to Mouse Print* about a strange situation she found involving Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. It seems depending on which “snack size” package you pick up, the size of the snack is different.

*MOUSE PRINT:


Reese 21g - 14 servings

Reese 21g - 7 servings

Both bags are 10.5 ounces, but the top one says it has 14 servings in the bag, and the bottom one says only seven servings. Each individual package inside is 21 grams or 0.75 oz. The difference is on the nutritional label that that seems to have upped the serving size to two patties (43 grams) instead of just one.

But it gets more interesting.

As noted, in those 10.5 ounce bags above, each peanut butter cup is 21 grams. However, each individual “snack size” patty varies in weight depending on how big a bag it comes in.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Reese 15-17-21 grams

So, the “snack size” peanut butter cups ranged from 15 grams each to 21 grams.

We asked the PR folks at Hershey to explain why they use the same term, “snack size,” for candy of varying sizes; and why the portion size was doubled to two peanut butter cups. They did not respond.




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August 24, 2015

Here We Downsize Again 2015 – Part 3

Filed under: Downsizing,Food/Groceries — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:59 am

  In the never ending saga of shrinking products, we sadly bring you a roundup of some of the latest casualties.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Charmin

The company (P&G) eliminated 11 sheets per roll. And that is after lopping of 12 sheets in 2013. To remind everyone, the original Charmin had 600 or 650 single-ply sheets per roll. Mouse Print* asked P&G why they downsized Charmin again. We did not get a response. Special thanks to Richard G., once again, for finding this example.


Coffee is another one of those products that is subject to periodic downsizing, but this change was a big one.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Folgers

Folgers 100% Colombian coffee went from 27.8 ounces down to 24.2 ounces. That is a loss of 30 cups according to the package label. Regular users might have noticed this change because the container is substantially smaller. We asked Smucker why they downsized Folgers. Their PR person responded:

We have observed a shift in the way consumers purchase coffee. Coffee drinkers are coming back to grocery store shelves quicker and are purchasing a larger variety of products across the aisle, all while seeking a lower, more attractive price. A reduced canister size allows us to meet the needs of this evolving coffee consumer.

We responded to that spin asking if the company lowered the wholesale price of the coffee proportionately. The company responded that they lowered the suggested retail price. We asked for both the old and new suggested retail price so we could do the math ourselves, but we did not get the data.

We also checked at a neighborhood Stop & Shop supermarket, and found that both sizes were selling for the same $8.99 on sale.

old price, new price

So here’s a new wrinkle to downsizing: are stores pocketing price drops when a product shrinks instead of passing on the savings (if any) to their customers?

Thanks to Alanna K for spotting this change.


We don’t see a lot of frozen food downsizing, except for ice cream usually, so this was a great catch by Jim S.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Boston Market

No more one pound Boston Market Salisbury Steak, it is now slimmer and trimmer at 14.5 ounces.


Lastly, we have some more downsizing in the chip department, and this is a huge change.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Snyder's

Almost 25% of Synder’s tortilla chips was removed and the $3.49 price stayed the same. The company said they did this to align their products with those of the competition. Thanks again to Richard G. for this find.




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• • •

July 13, 2015

With New LED Light Bulbs, Be Careful Watt You Buy

Filed under: Electronics,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:13 am

  Light emitting diode (LED) light bulbs are poised to become the bulb of choice for many shoppers. With a recent price drop announced by GE, it is predicted that LED light bulbs might in coming years make compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) obsolete.

But not all LED bulbs are created equal.

Here is a conventional incandescent 60-watt bulb and its CFL equivalent:

60-watt incandescent     cfl

The conventional 60-watt bulb has a life of about 1000 hours, and is rated at 870 lumens (the brightness or amount of light it gives off). But the CFL uses only one-quarter of the electricity (15 watts), lasts eight times longer, and produces slightly more light — 900 lumens — at least initially. That CFL cost a dollar or less.

The new GE bulb, called the GE LED Bright Stik, comes in packs of three at Home Depot for $9.97.

GE Bright Stik

*MOUSE PRINT:

While it uses one-sixth of the electricity of an incandescent, and a third less than the CFL, it only provides 760 lumens of light versus 870-900 lumens for the other two. It also provides a paltry 15,000 hours of life — short for an LED.

It appears that GE has sacrificed longevity and light output for a lower price. Compare the specs of some of its competitors:

*MOUSE PRINT:


60-Watt Equivalent LED Bulb Comparison
chart
“Conventional” refers to bulb shape

As you can see, prices and specs vary widely. The point of this comparison is to show that you shouldn’t assume that all LED bulbs of a certain wattage equivalent provide the same amount of brightness or have the longest possible life.




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