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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.

*MOUSE PRINT:

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.”

*MOUSE PRINT:

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.

Please Help Support Consumer World

MrConsumer For 27 years, Consumer World has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising alone nor corporate support) that keeps this site and Mouse Print* available as free consumer resources. So MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your support again this year. Your gift will be most appreciated.
Updated every Monday!   Subscribe to free weekly newsletter.

Here We Shrink Again – Early Fall 2022

As inflation continues to take its toll on our pocketbooks, some product manufacturers pass on price increases the sneaky way by downsizing or shrinking their products (“shrinkflation”), tinkering with the ingredients (“skimpflation”), or playing packaging tricks. Here are some of the latest examples. Incidentally, just recently Merriam Webster added the word shrinkflation to its dictionary.

Charmin Ultra Strong Mega Rolls

Charmin finishes this round of downsizing by finally reducing the number of sheets on its red packages – the ultra strong variety. Mega rolls were reduced from 264 sheets to 242 sheets, and Super Mega went from 396 to 363 sheets. The packages below were $14.29 each, purchased in the same store, at the same time, and at the same price. Thanks to our ace shrinkflation sleuth, Richard G., for this find.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Charmin Mega 264-242


Peet’s Coffee

George C. discovered that bags of Peet’s coffee went from 12 ounces down to 10.5 ounces and the price went up. We contacted the company, and it said they made the change a couple of months ago, but kept the price the same. No matter, you are still paying more per ounce with the smaller bag.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Peet's Coffee


Natural Balance Adult Dog Food

Fido may be getting two pounds less in the big bags of Natural Balance adult dry dog food than previously. As often happens, the size reduction occurred at the time the company introduced a new package design. On the company’s website and at Chewy.com attention is called to the design change, but it is up to the shopper to notice the difference in net weight since it is not shown in their illustration [we’ve added it].

*MOUSE PRINT:

Natural Balance dog food

When customer service at Natural Balance was asked why they downsized, the company responded saying, “To offer more consistency in sizing across our portfolio, we are reducing our bag sizes slightly on this formula from 26lbs. to 24lbs.”


Seventh Generation Detergent

As with many laundry detergents, the size of the bottle changes occasionally. This time, the 100-ounce bottles of Seventh Generation downsized to 90 ounces. The bottles below were found in August at a leading supermarket, both scanned $15.99, but the old larger one was offered with an extra dollar off. Thanks to Mim E. for the tip.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Seventh Generation detergent 110-90


Cap’n Crunch

In another cereal downsizing, Grant O. reported to us in July that Cap’n Crunch peanut butter cereal was shrinking from 12.5 ounces to 11.4. So you lost about a bowl of cereal in every box, but the price stayed the same. Both boxes were priced identically in the store where found.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Cap'n Crunch


Huggies Diapers

For several months, consumers have been reporting that there are fewer diapers in some Huggies packages. We recently found these Huggies Snugglers that went from 96 in a box down to only 84. And both boxes scanned at the same $29.99 price.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Huggies


Suave Shampoo

The 30-ounce bottles of Suave Shampoo and their conditioner have been reduced by 25%, but the price has stayed the same. Recently they both were $2.49 at Stop & Shop supermarket in the Boston area. Interestingly, the product is still called “family size.” Perhaps the new product is meant for families where dad is bald.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Suave shampoo


Quaker Instant Oatmeal

Last year, Quaker reduced some flavors of their instant oatmeal packages. This year, some more flavors got the downsizing axe including 10 packet boxes of raisin, date and walnut oatmeal going to eight.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Quaker Raisin Oatmeal packets

To see them side-by-side, they look identical. Only if your turn them sideways can you see that the new boxes are narrower.

Quaker sideways


Next week, we’ll expose some packaging tricks used by other cereal makers, and the week after that we’ll spotlight some products that were recently subject to “skimpflation.”

If you find an item that has been downsized, please take a sharp before and after picture showing the net weight or net contents, and email it to edgar (at symbol) ConsumerWorld.org . Thanks.

Please Help Support Consumer World

MrConsumer For 27 years, Consumer World has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising alone nor corporate support) that keeps this site and Mouse Print* available as free consumer resources. So MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your support again this year. Your gift will be most appreciated.
Updated every Monday!   Subscribe to free weekly newsletter.

Here We Downsize Again – Spring 2022, Part 2

We continue our series of products that have been downsized or as people say today, they have been subject to shrinkflation.

Note: Packages are displayed only to show numerical changes in net contents. Physical package dimensions may or may not be to scale depending on the graphic used.

Sparkle Paper Towels

Paper towels and toilet paper are two common culprits when it comes to downsizing. This time, Sparkle paper towels lopped off six sheets from every roll, going from 116 “pick-a-size” sheets to just 110. Georgia-Pacific customer service confirms that the towels are still two-ply despite the fact that that designation is missing from the front of the package. The company’s PR folks say they lowered the suggested retail price of the new packages, but we bought both packages below at the same time, at the same store, and got no extra discount on the smaller one.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Sparkle paper towels


Cocoa Pebbles

After General Mills downsized their family size boxes of cereal last year, Post was not too far behind. We found these boxes side-by-side in a local supermarket in February. About a bowl of cereal was taken out of the new packages.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Cocoa Pebbles


Quaker Life Cereal

Pete B. noticed that Quaker Life cereal not only downsized their big boxes of cereal from 24.8 ounces to 22.3, but they also changed the size name from “Giant” to “Family.” In fact, the new box is almost three-quarters of an inch taller, but half an inch less deep. Thanks to Pete for finding this change.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Quaker Life measured


Charmin Super Mega Toilet Paper

Even Charmin’s Ultra Soft “super mega” rolls are getting smaller. In February, Richard G. tipped us off that P&G reduced the size of these rolls from 396 sheets to 366. Charmin Ultra Strong in the red package is still 396 sheets, but eventually it will shrink too. Keep in mind the original single-ply Charmin of the 1960s had 650 sheets on a roll.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Charmin Super Mega blue


Pedigree Dog Food

Pedigree resized some of their dry dog food products including this one. While both old and new packages claim you are getting a bonus in every bag, the net change is that you are getting six pounds less. And our tipster, Brendan B. says the price stayed the same.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Pedigree 50-44

At least Chewy.com alerted readers to the change.


Utz Pretzels

Snack foods like potato chips are constantly being downsized, so as not to feel left out, Utz is now taking two ounces of pretzels out of it big jars. They are now 26 ounces instead of 28. Thanks to Tim B. for this submission.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Utz pretzels


Dawn Dishwashing Liquid

P&G periodically downsizes Dawn. This time the bottle lost half an ounce. It is down to just 6.5 ounces for the smallest size. Both bottles scanned at $1.79 at CVS in May.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Dawn 7 - 6.5 oz


Aveeno Lotion

New bottles of Aveeno won’t soothe your wallet. There’s 10% less moisturizing lotion in every one.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Aveeno


If you find an item that has downsized, please try to take a picture of the old and new one side-by-side with the net weight clearly shown. Just email submissions to edgar (at symbol) MousePrint.org . Thanks!