Thursday, January 21, 2010

Where have you gone, hefty PB cups?

In the 1942 movie “Kings Row,” a newly legless Ronald Reagan famously asks, "Where's the rest of me?" That was sort of the feeling I had today when I bought a two-pack of the Reese's dark chocolate peanut butter cups. The package was so light that I thought they might have to tie the candy bars to the rack so a light breeze doesn't blow them away. Folks of my generation have memories, which we're only too glad to share, about the days when a kid could take a dime into a store and come out with a Hershey bar and a Coke. And in those days, a Reese's peanut butter cup was a good-sized piece of candy. Maybe I'm overdoing it a bit, but it seems like a single Reese's cup from my youth weighed more than the two in the pack I bought today. Food producers are a pretty tricky bunch. We all remember how the coffee cans started shrinking so we paid the same price for less coffee. It's been the same deal with ice cream containers. And I even noticed that a package of hash browns, which used to weigh 2 pounds, now comes in at around 34.5 ounces. On the good side of food news, we are now able to buy "throwback" Pepsi and Mountain Dew, which means they are produced with real sugar rather than the corn syrup that has been used, as far as I can recall, since the 1980s. The difference in taste is remarkable. The bad news is that Pepsi says the "throwback" versions – also known as “Mexican,” because sodas in that country still are produced with real sugar – will be available for a "limited time only." Let's see if I have this right. Pepsi puts out a product that is clearly preferable to the one that had been available, and then plans to take it back off the market. In other words, they're screwing with us. It's like McDonald's and the McRib sandwich. I rarely eat at McDonald's, but I will stop by if I see that the McRib is making one of its occasional "limited-time-only" appearances. And then, just as quickly as the McRib reappears, it is gone again. Why do they do this?

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Blogger Scott Snyder said...

I remember when a can of Coke first went to 50 cents at the little store in Taylorstown. I was appalled and told them so. I didn't buy anything there for months...then it started going to 50 cents everywhere.

January 21, 2010 at 11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's cheaper to buy the two liter then it is a 16oz.

I think it's a green idea. Charge more for less, reason plastic but we was sold on plastic cause it was better for shipping.

January 21, 2010 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Murphy's Cats said...

Because they're teases?

January 21, 2010 at 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reese's now has a different kind of candy bar they call, Reese's Sticks. It's the same peanut butter and chocolate pairing, but made with (2) crunchy wafers instead of the "cups." I bought one yesterday at Gashel's, or I mean Byer's market in Claysville...and wow, how I love the sticks. But, I thought to myself, did I just pay .99 cents for that? (Did you know that there is no cents symbol on a keyboard?)Anyway, Reese's will always be one of my favorite candy bars.

This is Grog...I can never get my Google account to work.

January 21, 2010 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Grog, there are few things better in life than Gashel's ham salad, which the last time I was there, Ray Gashel was still making at Byers. They always had great baked ham lunch meat, too, and pizza loaf. Damn, I'm getting hungry. As for the cents sign, I guess the keyboards have it because nothing costs less than a dollar anymore. ;-) As I recall, the old Royal typewriter that I learned to type on did have a cents symbol.

January 21, 2010 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I still tell people that when I was a senior in high school that I could fill my gas tank AND buy an entire carton of cigarettes for less than ten bucks. Ahhh...the good old days. I'm just glad that they managed to get all the routes to school cleared of snow and level!

Reese's cups are definitely smaller, but all sorts of foods are. I don't understand the logic behind Pepsi's decision to limit the sales period of a clearly successful product. Maybe they want to jockey the numbers a bit to make the first quarter profits look good. Who knows? Disney does the same thing with their classic movies. They'll release Bambi or Cinderella on a special DVD package but it's only available for a few weeks. It must be fun to manipulate the public's buying habits.

January 21, 2010 at 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Growing up in the 1950s, you could get a 16oz bottle of RC Cola -- the first to go beyond 12oz bottles -- for 10 cents plus a 2-cent deposit. Quarts of Tom Tucker cherry and orange were 25 cents.

When my high school band went to the NY Worlds Fair in 1965, we were agog to see Coke in cans for the first time. The vending machine, BTW, had a pull-down can opener built in that punctured the top of the can because poptops hadn't been invented yet. How did we not die of thist, I wonder? It was 15 cents a can back then. I also recall when the size of the bubble hum included in baseball card packs went from being the same size as the card to half that.

Yes, marketers are tricky, and I thought that someone was supposed to be tracking this stuff. I know Consumer Reports mag routinely lists things like sizes shrinking while prices increase, or packaging less cereal in a box the same size as the old one and saying "sold by weight, not by volume."

You might also notice that Migraine Strength Excedrin ingredients are exactly the same as those in regular Excedrin.

January 21, 2010 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

It's usually a McDonald's Corporate or Franchise situation. I asked that question of a franchise owner I worked for as a domestic. Corporate stores offer all the goodies. Franchise stores only offer what they want to offer. I love the Shamrock Shakes but most franchises don't bother.
Bulk sausage now comes in 12 0z instead of 16 also.
Soda I don't drink enough to know the tastes.
To get more of the retro Reeses taste I eat the Reeses shaped like trees, eggs, bats. You are right, they just are not the same size. My Gma always had a drawer of Reeses, Peppermint Pattys and Mallow Cups. Remember Mallow Points?

January 22, 2010 at 9:35 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Grog,The Character map on your computer still has the cents (¢)symbol.I keep the map open at the bottom of my window just in case I want to sing. ♫♪♫

January 22, 2010 at 9:43 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Lori, now that you've reminded me, I'm going to have to pick up some Mallow Cups today. As recently as a couple years ago, they still had the little Mallow Points coins in the packs, but I'm not sure if they still do. On a related point, I'm constantly amazed by the number of people who don't like coconut, and most of them say it's because of the texture.

January 23, 2010 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Greg said...


I've been working with computers forever, and I never knew about the Character Map. In fact I had to go to Windows Help, to find it. It all makes ¢...ha,ha thanks for the info. It's amazing the vast amount knowledge passed along on Brant's Blog! :)

January 27, 2010 at 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a great example of deceptive packaging: I bought a box of M&M peanut candy. The box is roughly 5 x 4 x 1 inches. 3.4 oz. The candy is in a sealed plastic bag inside the box. Open the bag, pour the candy into the box ... and it takes up less than half the volume of the box. Nothing on the box that says "Sold by weight, not by volume."

This is like putting a piece of cardboard that's a couple inches longer than the bar itself on the bottom of a candy bar.

At least with a bag, you can tell how full it is. And why do I think they put the pieces in bag so they couldn't rattle inside the box rather than for freshness?

January 27, 2010 at 5:11 PM  

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