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Beware Tricky Cereal Box Size Names

More and more companies are adding size names to breakfast cereal boxes, cookies, and chips. “Large Size,” “Party Size,” “Family Size,” “Giant Size,” and even “Mega Size” are now adorning product packages.

In a sense, this is a very clever ploy by manufacturers to teach shoppers to buy by size name rather than by net weight. So if you become habituated to buying “Family Size” Cheerios, that is what you will likely look for on the package the next time you shop. Of course, for manufacturers that shrink their products, if you only buy by size name you won’t notice content changes as readily.

On top of a move to using size names, some cereal makers have been slapping the name “Family Size” on ever smaller boxes to accommodate the introduction of “Giant Size” and even “Mega Size” products.

Post Honey Bunches of Sizes

Post joins other brands in putting size names on cereal boxes. The trouble is one brand’s “family size” could be another brand’s “giant size.” There is no uniformity. And worse, some makers are shuffling the names around like actual size didn’t matter any more.


Honey Bunches of Oats history

It appears that Post is downsizing their size names — moving them down a notch from a larger box to a smaller box. In this case, based on “best by” dates on these packages, Post’s “Family Size” for Honey Bunches of Oats was first 23 ounces. Then, in preparation for a name change, it removed those words from the package. Then a month later it moved the “Family Size” name to their 18-ounce box — five ounces less. All this was in preparation for Post renaming the old 23-ounce “Large Size” to the new 23-oz. “Giant Size.”

While the new, smaller “Family Size” box got significantly cheaper at Target in the above example, it was slightly more expensive on a per-ounce basis. And at a Stop & Shop in Massachusetts, the five-ounce smaller box was only a dime cheaper.

Honey Bunches at Stop & Shop

Post did not respond to multiple requests for comment about their size changes.

Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Size Shift

Another example of a company renaming its boxes and putting big size names on some smaller boxes is Kellogg’s. Here, just like the example above, the “Family Size” name which used to adorn the 24-ounce box of their Corn Flakes, has been relegated to the 18-ounce one. And the old “Family Size” box has been renamed “Giant Size.”


Kellogg's Corn Flakes

Kellogg’s did not respond to multiple requests for comment about their size changes, including to a challenge we made to their president’s recent comments when he said, “If we make it smaller, we make it cheaper.” In particular we asked if the cost per ounce remained the same in the new, smaller package. Of course it couldn’t because of the significant costs in redesigning the packages, etc.

Conditioning shoppers to buy products by the size name rather than by the size number (the actual net weight) is a scheme by manufacturers to desensitize us to the actual amount of contents in the package. Don’t fall for it. Actual size matters.

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8 thoughts on “Beware Tricky Cereal Box Size Names”

  1. Ah yes…. The concept names of Family, Giant, Party, and Mega….

    When they can all mean 23oz and can still mean the same thing at 18oz they are just a total joke.

  2. Ya know what? They can rename those tiny variety pack cartons “Empty Nesters.” I stopped eating cereal about 3 years ago when I saw one-too-many videos on how that glop is made, and the ingredients therein. No more bread either. No wheat. No grains. Reduced the carbs and reduced my weight.

    • I say it does matter when they are moving the Family size name over the Giant sized name and the Family size winds up being smaller.

      Lays Potato chips dropped the Family size name in 2020 as an 8oz bag does not look really family sized.

      If you go back to this article it showed off some shrinkflation with some major brands of cereal while not changing the concept name at the top of the box.

      Here We Downsize Again – Summer 2021 (Part 1)
      August 2, 2021 by Edgar (aka MrConsumer)

  3. Great information Edgar. As I have indicated here before, in addition to how much is in the pack, shoppers should also take account of the unit price (price per unit of measure) which some grocery retailers in some states/territories are required to provide and in others some provide voluntarily. The introduction of the 18oz pack of Honey Bunches of Oats resulted in the price per oz increasing by 6% at Target and by 26% at Stop &Shop!

  4. Doesn’t matter what they call them.Just check the weight vs price.Never buy cereals at list price.That’s crazy or you don’t care about price.

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