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Size Matters

Big Packages, Little Products

Last Updated Jun 24, 2001 8:04 PM EDT

It's been a long time since I've done something like this but because I don't want to lose my license as a consumers' advocate, I've made a "Least For Most" list.

These are all products that come in packages the size of which promises more than they deliver. Take these little candy bars, for instance. They have a piece of cardboard inside that's a little bigger than the candy bar itself, and the paper wrapper sticks out further than it has to hold the candy. Hershey doesn't bulk up its bar with cardboard. Anything that comes on a piece of cardboard always has more cardboard than is necessary.
The makers of potato chips have become expert at putting a small number of potato chips in a big bag. They puff the bag up with air and seal it so it looks like more than it is.

A small package of Advil looks like it probably holds no more than ten or twelve pills. It says "Advil Cold Sinus." But it contains just two pills. I suppose one is for cold and the other for sinus.

I like to check up on coffee companies every few years to see how much they're putting in what used to be a one pound can.

They still use the same size can, but look at these five brands: A can of Brown Gold. Very good coffee and 16 ounces, one pound. Next, Martinson's: 13 ounces. Yuban, good coffee but only 12 ounces. Chase and Sanborn squeezes another half ounce out of the can: 11 and a half ounces. And the winner in the least for most competition is Savarin, with just ten and a half ounces.

And one strange bit of information: This can of coffee with the least in it, and this can with the most coffee in it, are made by the same company. Do you think they're testing us to see how dumb we are? One of the big winners in selling air for coffee is a new Maxwell House product with 10 little packages of coffee. We paid $3.69 for the 7.1 ounces of coffee it contains. That would be $8.32 for a pound of coffee.

Another Nowhere-Near-As-Big-As-It-Looks winner was this Dove Ice Cream bar. This is a box of four. Here are the bars inside the bags. And these bags are all puffed up. And here's one of the bars itself. They could have put a dozen in here. I tested all these products before we did this. I tested three Dove Bars just to make sure they were good. And when we finish, I'm going to test another one.

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