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The 14 oz. Pint and Other Downsized Products — Part 1

The pace of products shrinking in size does not seem to have diminished during the winter of 2008-2009.

Here are some of the latest items that have been downsized:



It is hard to see the difference in the two ice cream containers unless you look at them side by side. The subtle tapering of the new package would not be obvious to the casual purchaser.



Paper towels is one of the categories of items that has been downsized repeatedly. This time, P&G is using the old trick of announcing a seeming improvement (“25% thicker quilts”) to divert your attention away from the fact that they are giving you 10 fewer sheets per roll.

We weighed the old and new towel packages. The new one weighed less, suggesting that the paper really was not 25% thicker and thus heavier. So Mouse Print* asked the company if in fact the towels were 25% thicker, or whether they just made the indentations in the paper slightly deeper.

Their non-response:

Thank you for sharing your disappointment with our product. Our goal is to produce high quality products that consistently delight our consumers and I’m sorry this wasn’t your experience. Please be assured I’m sharing your comments with the rest of our team.


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16 thoughts on “The 14 oz. Pint and Other Downsized Products — Part 1”

  1. Ben & Jerry’s has already mocked HD’s shrink ray.

    “One of our competitors (think funny sounding European name) recently announced they will be downsizing their pints from 16 to 14 ounces to cover increased ingredient and manufacturing costs and help improve their bottom line. At Ben & Jerry’s we think downsizing pints is downright wrong. We understand that in today’s hard economic times businesses are feeling the pinch. We also understand that many of you are also feeling the same, and think now more than ever you deserve your full pint of ice cream.”

  2. a lot of the manufacturers are claiming that they downsize so that they won’t have to raise the price but I do the family shopping and let me tell you, prices are going up even as products get smaller.

  3. thicker != heavier. There could just be more air between the sheets.

    How much lighter was the new roll? If it was more than 8% lighter, there’s some other “Mouse Business” going on. (10/138=.072)

    Edgar replies: I honestly don’t recall the difference, and didn’t do the math to figure out if it was just the 10 fewer sheets or if something else was at play.

  4. I’d rather pay more than have to buy more often. And, with food products,
    what about all the recipes that say “one can of this” or “a box of that”?
    Unless we know what size container was available at the time the recipe
    was written, they’re not going to work out any longer. Even when we
    do know what the size was, getting that amount nowadays can be inconvenient
    because it leaves too much left over to throw out but not enough to use.

  5. This has been going on since Coca-Cola introduced their famously shapely 6.5 oz bottle about a hundred years ago! Caveat emptor, eh?

  6. I was at Target the other day. They were advertising a special on the family sized Cheetos – 21.5 oz. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the package and saw that it was only 20.5 oz! Will it ever end?

  7. The thing is, you can only downsize so much. Eventually, it’s going to have to stop. You can’t have rolls of paper towels with 20 sheets in them, or “pints” of ice cream with 4 ounces.

    I for one, would rather pay more for the same sized item. They only tell you they are reducing the item so you don’t have to pay more. But 1. You pay more anyway. and 2. Most people would rather pay more and not screw up their recipes, thank you. (and 3. Less people are stupid than they think)

  8. I wish they would save money on all the packaging and pass that savings on to the consumer. when we lived in Germany for example tubes of toothpaste and similar items were sold without the box. The store just had bins with toothpaste tubes or other things that we sell in boxes. I have been told the boxes are necessary for display shelves but that is ridiculous, it would save money, save on paper products, and be that much less trash to throw out. It’s absurd the amount of money spent in this country on superfluous packaging material, much of which is never recycled.

  9. @cmam – They don’t keep downsizing. They just come out with a “family” or “value” size later on at a higher price. Then the cycle starts all over again.

  10. @mitaliano
    I agree with everything you said!! If products would also quit wasting money on “rebranding”, they would probably not only save money, but also keep customers. When I go shopping I look for the same product I used last time only to find that they have changed the packaging. That usually means they have also probably just changed the product, so it is usually a good time to try a new brand.

  11. I emailed Haagen dazs when I first read this just to let them know that I was unhappy with their decision to reduce the product size. Today in the mail I got two coupons from them for free 14oz “pints” of ice cream.

    I’ll use the coupons, but I’m still going to stick with ben and jerry’s when I purchase a pint from now on. When I buy I pint, I want a pint…even if that pint needs to cost a little more than before.

  12. This has to be one of my family’s biggest pet peeves!!

    I usually don’t buy ice cream by the pint; I buy it by the half-gallon or 5-quart pail. I’ve been noticing the “half-gallon” (64 ounces) getting reduced too (Dean’s, Country Fresh, Land O Lakes, etc.).

    I’ve also noticed tubs of margarine/spread (Country Crock, Parkay, etc.) that used to be 3 pounds (48 ounces) and are often still being advertised as 3 pounds but are actually only 45 ounces.

    There are so many more examples I could give, but I’m sure you all have your own examples.

  13. I went to buy some Haagen Dazs tonight and one glance told me they were trying to dupe the consumer once again! I was furious and decided to buy Ben & Jerry’s instead because their ice cream was 16 oz. I have been a loyal Haagen Dazs customer for many, many years, but that did it! I will not buy their ice cream again unless they sell a true pint–I don’t care if they have to charge a bit more. I really hate the sneaky nature of downsizing. Why don’t they ask the consumer what they prefer? I bet most people would agree–raise the price if you must, but don’t downsize. Also, I do a lot of cooking and it’s true–downsizing really screws up your recipes (especially when some of your favorites come from the early 70’s!!). When will the manufacturers learn???

  14. What really erkes me is when I try to use a coupon and can’t because the product has been downsized.
    Like a 14oz item that is now 12.5oz and the scanner will not accept it.

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