Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday October 29, 2022
It’s not a trick: Your Halloween treats are getting smaller
Standing in the centre aisle of the drugstore, with its seasonal display of spooky bat decorations, vampire teeth and fun-sized bags of chocolate, don’t be surprised if something seems off.
It isn’t a nightmare. Your Halloween candy just got smaller.
A bag of dark chocolate Hershey’s Kisses is now a couple of ounces smaller than before. A two-pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is a tenth of an ounce lighter. And Cadbury milk chocolate bars are about 10 percent skimpier.
Consumers can partly blame “shrinkflation” — the phenomenon of manufacturers reducing the size of their products rather than increasing the price. Over the past two years, companies have downsized paper products, salty snacks and many other consumer packaged goods as their ingredient, labor and transportation costs have skyrocketed.
But it’s also part of a years-long plan to make Americans’ treats less caloric. In 2017, Mars Wrigley, Ferrero (owner of Nestlé’s American candy business), Ferrara Candy and Lindt (which owns Ghirardelli Chocolate and Russell Stover Chocolates) joined forces to decrease calorie counts, offer a broader range of portion sizes and provide labeling that lists calories on the front of their packaging.
The National Confectioners Association last month announced that 85 percent of chocolate and candy sold today comes in packaging that contains 200 calories or fewer per pack. And nearly 100 percent of candies sold now have front-of-pack calorie labels, up from just over half in 2016.
“Five years ago, we were behind the ball on front-of-pack labeling,” said Christopher Gindlesperger, spokesman for the association. “Those four companies, that make up about half of the market, drove a remarkable change and rallied the rest of the industry.”
Other moves are intended to provide lighter options for candy consumers. Hershey, for instance, introduced “thins” versions of classic candies like Reese’s cups, York patties and Kit Kats. The company has launched an increasingly long list of zero-sugar options, from Jolly Ranchers to Twizzlers.
In short, many candy sizes and packages are shrinking but prices aren’t.
“All of these companies are having to make these decisions based on cost,” Wyatt said. “But I can say with certainty candy companies committed to these [calorie reductions and front-of-label calorie counts] before that inflation started. The products that have transparent labeling outperform others.”
Candy may in fact be the category that first experienced shrinkflation, Dworsky said. In the 1950s, he said, candy companies told vending machine operators they would have to raise prices, going from 5 cents per candy bar to 6 cents. The vending machine folks balked and asked the candy companies just to make the products smaller.
Dworsky’s message: The only way for consumers to protect themselves from shrinkflation is by memorizing product weights.
“It will go too far when you open that carton of eggs and there are only 11 inside,” he joked. (The Washington Post)
From sketch to finish, see the current way Graeme completes an editorial cartoon using an iPencil, the Procreate app, and a couple of cheats on an iPad Pro …