The way food is packaged has much to do with the types of foods we eat, and which brands we buy. Most marketing tactics are fairly obvious, like bright colors and eye-catching logos. What isn’t as obvious is that the way our snacks are presented to us can also influence how much we consume. After all we eat with our eyes first, and looks can be deceiving.
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The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about how Hershey’s figured out that people would eat more of their candy if they sold it in smaller packages. Hershey’s, along with a handful of other long-familiar snacks, have been repackaged in smaller, portable containers and bags, capitalizing both on our busy lives and our increasing awareness of calories. Hershey’s website says that one serving, or 15 pieces, is 200 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat, over 1/3 of the amount required for a 2,000 calorie diet.
I couldn’t find information for how many servings were in a bag, but newfoodreview suggested there are three or four, meaning that many people are snacking on these candies throughout the day and getting more than they bargained for. Okay, so most people know not to eat a whole bag of these things. But does that really stop it from happening? According to Hershey’s numbers, people are eating more of their candy when they don’t have to unwrap individual candies and can instead pop a handful into their mouths.
Other than package size, there are other subtle and not-so-subtle packaging ploys that suggest a guilt-free snacking experience, like resealable packages. The idea of being able to reseal a package indicates that the entire bag is not to be eaten at once, but can be saved for later. But how often is that the case? Next time you’re combing the grocery aisles searching for your on-the-go snacks, keep a wary eye out for these clues. Sometimes, good things don’t come in small packages.
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Hershey’s likes to describe their “drops” as “A Lot of Hershey’s Happiness in a Little Drop,” indicating that just one or two bites is as pleasing as a whole candy bar, but, as the copy on the package says, without the mess of that pesky wrapper. The friendly little bag also tells you to “Pour ’em, pop ’em, seal ’em,” suggesting you aren’t meant to eat the whole bag at once, which may prompt people to buy more since they feel more in control of portion size, even though they are likely eating more of the delicious little chocolates.
The Cheetos canister is another example of the resealable psychology that suggests you aren’t meant to eat the whole container at once. I couldn’t find this product description on Frito-Lay’s website, but many office supply sites and snack depots describe the Cheetos canister as a container designed to preserve freshness. of course, you only need to worry about keeping them fresh if there is anything left to save. Just like Pringles chips that are sold in the same kind of container, once you pop…
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For the discerning snacker, the Chips Ahoy Go-Paks signal alarms right away. The text and images that dominates the packaging indicate that you can take the cookies with you, as they conveniently fit in a car’s cupholder; driving is the perfect time for mindless snacking. If you look closely, however, you can see that one container is actually meant to be four servings, equaling 600 calories. If you are concerned about health and fitness, you probably don’t want to take Chips Ahoy on your next road trip.
What the majority of major food companies like Hershey’s or Nabisco count on is for their consumers to not think carefully before eating their products. They know that, as a society, we are becoming increasingly conscious of our health and how it relates to eating habits, but they also know that the average consumer is occupied with other things, and want decisions about food made for them. This makes it easy for companies to repackage their products in a way that leads consumers to think that the same snacks they love have become more health-friendly. As consumers, it is necessary to keep a wary eye out for these kind of tricks if we truly want to eat a healthier diet. It is often said that less is more; in the case of these snacks, the “more” is in empty calories, not health value.
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