The Pint-Size Recession

| Citing tough times, Haagen-Dazs claims it was forced to downsize its ice cream pints: they will now be 14 ounces instead of 16. But to rival Ben and Jerry’s, a recession (or even depression) is no excuse for less ice cream. The company responded to the news by reassuring its customers: “Now more than ever, you deserve your full pint of ice cream.” No word yet on whether any gas stations will try to pass off three quarts as a gallon … [%comments]

Steven Surowiec

I remember reading something that said bakers had tried the same thing at some point in history and that's why we now have "a bakers dozen". If I remember correctly it indicated that to try to save money, or make more money, they would sell the baked goods in a dozen but started decreasing the size of the goods them selves. I wonder how long until we start seeing things like that. Popsicles that are slightly shorter, a sandwich with fewer slices of meat, a glass of soda that's not quite full. All in the name of saving a few cents per customer, over the span of thousands of customers.

Lee Stevens

How about the shrinking bag of coffee? Starbucks, Seattle's Best, Green Mountain, etc., have all "downsized" their ground coffee containers from 16oz to 12oz and now I'm finding some at 10oz!

That's why I go to my favorite bagel shop (here in Lakewood, CO) and buy a full 16 OUNCE bag of Scottish Roasters coffee for the same price as the big-name 10-12oz bags.


As long as bars don't try to pull this trick everything will be OK


....weren't we just reading about how the price of milk and other commodities has plummeted? Hagen Dazs' claims don't sound legitimate.


@Steven (#1): Actually a baker's dozen is the opposite phenomenon: it's when the baker gives you an extra roll with your dozen.


It's nothing to do with 'tough times', it's just a way to mask a price increase. It was pretty obvious recently when the makers of my ice cream of choice shrank their containers from 1.75 qt to 1.5 qt. And I'm sure at some point that container was half a gallon...


The popular phrase for this nonsense from one of my other favorite blogs, The Consumerist, is "Grocery Shrink Ray".

There was a long string of entries about the sizes of just about anything you can think of going down in a not so obvious way while the price remained the same. For example, I noticed my can of tuna is now 5 ounces when it used to be about 7. 7 was OK to make up for lunch and share. 5 is not. Things like this can really mess up recipes.


Haagen-Dazs ... now more expensive then ever.

Let's all just go to Ben & Jerry's ... or cheaper still - the local supermarket.


The chocolate bar companies long ago shrank the size of the bars (or replaced chocolate with something the FDA allows to be called "chocolate" but which Europeans wouldn't feed to their dogs).

This strategy doesn't shock or even disturb me. But please tell me they won't still call them "pints"!


Our local grocery chain has been trying this same scam on its customers. Without lowering prices, a half-gallon of ice cream has shrunk, first to 1.75 quarts, and now to 1.5 quarts.

Each change has been disguised as a packaging change, so if you didn't pay attention to the amount marked on the container, you'd assume you were still getting the same quantity.


soon you will be charged just for thinking of the brand
you know for wear and tear on their equity investment


#3: Some bars have started using pint glasses called "falsies." They only hold 14oz thanks to a thicker bottom, but are otherwise identical to a regular 16oz glass. It's sad times we live in.


This happens *all* of the time. Take chocolate bars; at least in the UK. There was once Mars Bar, many years ago. Its price gradually increased more and more, until (say) it hit 35p. Then, Mars introduced a small Mars Bar, for 25p (the cost of the bigger one a few years earlier). They then phased out the larger one, and replaced it with an even bigger Mars Bar, for 55p (probably actually the same £/size as the previous large one, but you don't notice).

Then gradually they'll up the price of the lower one, make it a bigger size to make you not notice and introduce another small one in time. Which, in 2020, will cost £5 :)

Howard Tayler

@E Nobody should be feeding chocolate to their dog, unless it's not really chocolate. Theobromine is toxic to dogs, and the LD50 is quite possible for a dog to eat in one sitting (around 2lbs of chocolate, IIRC.)

The point... if Europeans won't feed it to their dogs, assuming they know about theobromine's effects, then it must actually be made of chocolate.


Paper towels and toilet paper.

The big brands can't raise their prices, so instead the rolls become smaller and smaller. This gave rise to the "big roll" which is actually the size of a "regular roll" from a few years ago.

Alas, even the "big roll" has shrunk, and now they have come out with the "giant roll".

Have you seen a "regular" roll of toilet paper recently? It is pitifully small.


Girl scout cookies are still the same price, but now have fewer cookies.


#2 - Of course a british pint has 20oz, but I don't think we get any more coffee because of it ;)

Over here coffee is sold by weight. We typically get 227g or 454g in a bag. (ie 8 oz or 16 oz).


Edys is way better than Haagen-Dazs and their fake Scandanavian name anyway.

Shampoo bottles have gone from 16oz (a long time ago) down to 14.2 now.


Howard Tayler @14:

You're absolutely right. That's what I get for using a lame cliche! ::writerly shame::


Back on topic:

I can't say I really mind this form of sales-tweaking. There are three options: use cheaper (usually inferior) ingredients, raise the price but maintain quantity per unit, or maintain the price but reduce the quantity per unit.

I agree the last option is a little underhanded in that it penalizes the inattentive, but the first option is, IMO, the worst option of all, in that it penalizes everyone. At least the "same price, smaller package" approach gives the consumer a chance to see what's happening, and doesn't diminish the quality of their experience, only the quantity.

I have been burned too many times by eating a favorite treat, only to discover that it's not as tasty as it was a couple of weeks earlier. An inspection of the ingredients often reveals the issue. (Yes, Entenmann's, I am looking at you and your chocolate-chip crumb cake.)



Another result of lowering package size: fewer calories per package. For those products for which the "serving" is the entire package (like a candy bar, or any other single-portion snack), sneakily decreasing the package size means that they can say there are fewer calories per serving.