Saturday, 23 March 2013

The incredible shrinking stuff. Not for girls, though.

You know what they say. Wagon Wheels aren't as big as they used to be.

'Ah well, that's what they say,' returns the argument,' But you were smaller then, weren't you?' 

As if that makes sense.  The logic behind that would appear that  the scale of my foodstuffs decreases as I incrementally increase.

Weetabix are still the same size, in my eyes, they still taste like loft insulation and still have the capacity to soak up milk at a rate of half a pint per twenty seconds.  In fact I've often wondered why the relevant authorities haven't considered a nationwide bank of Weetabix to be distributed in times of potential flooding, a bit like salting and gritting roads.  We would all sleep a little more soundly knowing that it could rain as much as it likes because we have crates of breakfast cereal on standby with the capacity to soak up phenomenal amounts of river water and discharge.  I mean, do I have to think of everything?

This may well be old news, but I do think it sad that we seem to accept the dwindling size of food items
without so much as as blink.

No stiffly worded letters to MPs, no blockades of supermarkets, no sit down protests outside the village hall.  Nothing. It seems we have just got used to it all and accept with crushed acceptance.

For example: Yorkie bars have been slimming down a damn sight faster than I have in recent years.  Once upon a time Yorkies seemed to be the size of yard brush heads.  Vast lumps of indigestible chocolate that could only be tackled efficiently with the spare toollkit in an Eddie Stobbart truck. Hence the whole trucking image thing 'Not for Girls...' stuff.

Three years ago they had shrunk from 68 grammes to 64.5 grammes.   Back in 2002 Yorkie bars were as big as 70 grammes, so the bars have decreased by around 8 per cent in just eight years. There's fewer chunks, I suspect, because something in my head says the word 'Yorkie' was spelled out before, chunk by chunk.

And Aeros - those lovely wispy, airy, minty, frothy morsels have lost ten per cent of their body weight in recent years.  Something I could do with, but as you may have gathered chocolate is one of my things and something I've jabbered on here endlessly about.

Don't get me started on Fry's Turkish Delight. Have you seen the size of that recently?  There are bigger dog biscuits. That hasn't shrunk, it's been savaged.

Of course, they not alone.  Other chocolate bars have suffered similarly as have various other items, food and non-food.

Birds Eye original beef burgers with onion: 16 pack, now 12, price increase; Walkers Cheese and Onion Crisps:  34.5 g now 32.5 g no increase; Finish All in One Powerball Dishwasher tablets: 28 now 26. On it goes; bacterial wipes, furniture polish, take your pick.

And the alternative is?  Well much higher prices I guess, but even so some prices have risen and packs have got smaller.

Not sure which of those I dislike more: rising prices or shrinking.

Would it be commercial suicide just to keep hiking prices up?  Would we just appreciate that rising costs have to be met somewhere by someone at some point? Do we notice less if our furniture polish has 42 available squirts and not 50?

I do think shrinking is generally less noticeable and somehow, we persuade ourselves that it's OK.  At least we're still getting our favourite product.

We've seen how awkward the pricing of something is just this week with George Osbourne's budget and his magnificent gesture in shaving a penny of a pint of beer.

If I'm going to save myself a tenner on a night out tonight at the Dog and Gusset, I'm going to have to shift enough beer to cause a head injury, let alone a hangover.

Five pence, I aint gonna notice George.  Thanks for the offer, appreciated and all that, but you may as well have kept the cash and spent it on useful services.  It looks like the NHS to start with, could do with whatever loose change you have, George. 

Oh dear.  There's no easy answer is there? None.  I may as well stop painting my protest placards because there really isn't a point.  We're just going to have to keep on keeping on putting up with shrinking because the bottom line is we can't keep bashing business. The companies that make all this stuff employ us too.  And whether you think it's more to do with profiteering and shareholders the fact remains that these companies can't soak up all costs forever or risk shedding jobs. There is a whiff of Catch-22 to all this.

As for Wagon Wheels, well the size of the biscuit varies across the world.  It's quite a bit smaller in Australia, for example.  But here, it's barely shrunk at all.  A slither.  So me getting bigger and the biscuit barely changing at all, is probably the truth of it.  Who'd have thought it.

Memories can play tricks, after all. Wish I couldn't remember the Milky Bar Kid.  What a clown.

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