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How Much Cereal is Really in This Box?

Jack K. was very disappointed by a recent purchase of cereal he made for Passover. He felt shortchanged by this Cheerios-like product called Crispy-O’s from Gefen for which he paid a hefty price – $5.59.

Crispy O's

To his surprise, when he opened the 10-inch high box, he found only a tiny bag inside and lot of dead airspace.


Crispy O's inside of box

When manufacturers over-package a product creating empty space inside that has no function other than to make consumers think they are getting more for their money than they really are, that is called slack fill, and it’s illegal under federal law (and the law of some states). It is not illegal if the empty space is needed because of settling of the product, or because the machinery to fill the package requires it, or the space is needed to protect the product (such as the cushioning pillow created by large potato chips bags).

To add insult to injury, when Jack poured out the cereal for breakfast, he only got two-bowls-worth. Stunned by the revelation, Jack’s wife measured the contents of a fresh box, and only got about 4 cups out of it. But the nutrition facts label said the box was supposed to contain seven cups.


Gefen Nutrition Facts

We brought this matter to the company’s attention. Their response:

“Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. After further investigation it was determined that there was a misprint on the serving size. It should have said that the 25g is a half/ cup. All WEIGHTS stated on the package are correct. Please be assured that this printing error will be corrected before we produce product for next season.”

This suggests that this big box only contains about three and a half cups of cereal. We wrote back to Kayco, the maker of the product, pointing out that the fix for the problem was not changing the serving size to half a cup because that would violate federal law. Under FDA rules the serving size “is the amount of food customarily consumed (i.e., typically eaten) in one sitting for that food.” No adult eats just half a cup of a Cheerios-like cereal for breakfast. In fact, according to General Mills, the maker of Cheerios, the serving size for that cereal is one cup for adults and three-quarters of a cup for a child under the age of four.


Cheerios nutrition facts

The company did not write back to us after we pointed out that their planned fix was probably not kosher.

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4 thoughts on “How Much Cereal is Really in This Box?”

  1. Gouging the religious in order to keep Kosher? And putting serving size aside, why wasn’t to inordinate amount of air space included in your message to them. And produced “once a year?” Heck, for all anyone knows, General Mills might private label this stuff for Kayco.

    Edgar replies: Marty, I did in fact ask about the slack fill: “Why do you package this cereal in a 10-inch high box where it appears that it is only half full or less?”

  2. Thou shall not cheat consumers. And so I imagine The “Higher Authority” is quite displeased with Kayco.

  3. This seems ripe for a class action lawsuit, even if the slack fill wasn’t there and the box was smaller. It’s clear on the ingredient label that there is an implied 7 cups of cereal in the box. You can’t just say “oops the box said we were giving more cereal than was in the box, sorry we’ll get that fixed.”

  4. Sure you are going to pay a price premium on this product as this is a passover time period product.

    That is just tooooooo much slack fill here. Not even a box Cheerios would do that to a customer.

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