Reese’s Shrunken Little Pieces

OK, we’ve got “Stealth Inflation” going on for sure. In the last 2 months I’ve run into three more products that have “shrunk” without warning. (One will be in another posting). In this posting we’re going to cover Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (due to their near fraudulent packaging) and Cashews from Costco.

(In theory, I’ve shrunk the size of these photos using two different techniques. First two with MS Photoeditor prior to upload. The third via WordPress built in image resizing. Let me know if it didn’t work. WordPress does not tell you the size of a saved image in kB anywhere I’ve found.)

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup On Larger Wrapper

These were bought at Walmart yesterday. I wanted a snack, they were all of $1, and I love those Big Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups… it felt a bit light when I picked it up, but I was in a hurry. In the car, found out “Honey, They Shrunk The Cups!”… but not the packaging…

Here is a picture of the cup sitting on the oversized white ‘backing board’ used to help puff up the wrapper and make it look larger. Note that decreasing the diameter of a circle shrinks the area as a square function. I’m also pretty sure these are less tall as well (holding the same height / diameter proportions) so the volume / mass shrinkage is going as a cube power function. Very much Not Nice.

Reese's Smaller Peanut Butter Cup on Oversized White Backer Board

Reese's Smaller Peanut Butter Cup on Oversized White Backer Board

Yes, the prices of chocolate and sugar have gone up. Way up. So raise the damn price. Don’t gyp me with a size swindle by puffing up a bunch of paper with air and trying to pretend it’s the same old nice big candy when it’s a dinky rip off. Now I’m just not going to be buying anything from The Hershey Company without a long look at the wrapper for weight information and a good squishing of the product. IF I decide it’s worth buying, I’ll pay for a non-squished one and tell the clerk this other one is broken ;-)

OK Hershey Company goes onto the “AVOID as they Swindle Kids” list. (Kids of all ages ;-)

Now, we have Costco. For years, I’ve bought “tubs of nuts” from them. The price has wandered between about $9 and $12 depending on the particular nuts (peanuts, mixed nuts, cashews) and the particulars of the harvests. The tub was a nice big round one. Unfortunately, I don’t have an old one for an A/B picture. Fortunately, they kept the same lid…. So, here we have the “New Shrunken” size. Neat trick, just make it a cube instead of a cylinder… I’ll let others “do the math” on how much that cuts out of the product. I think the old one was 3.5 to 4 pounds, so this is not a small change.

Cashews From Costco

Cashews From Costco

Price? Oh, that was kept at a bit over $12.

My guess is someone did a price sensitivity marketing test and found that $18 to $20 for a tub of nuts, and folks noticed… better to “square the circle” and hope they don’t…

At any rate, Costco now has shrunken nuts.

Maybe we need a new inflation indicator… the shrunken nuts and shriveled candy index…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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13 Responses to Reese’s Shrunken Little Pieces

  1. H.R. says:

    AND… two years ago the 8-pack of Reeses was a 10-pack.

  2. Dan Goetz says:

    I’m suprised you haven’t noticed the size dicrepency in Reeses cups before. For some years now I have noticed that a Reeses is not a Reeses is not a Reeses. The standard two pack of Reeses available at you average convenience store has one size cups, the King Size four pack has different size cups, and the single cups packaged in 8 or ten packs for a dollar are usually the smallest of the different sizes. My personal pet peeve is the Milkyway King Size which instead of being a single bar now comes as two half size bars: completely unsatisfying. I think Snickers may be adopting this strategy as well but am not sure.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve just always bought the big single ones at the checkout line. Not bought the ‘giant pack’ before. (Only did it this time as it was $1 and “right there” in front of me). Oh, and we’ve sometimes bought the dinky ones in Halloween Packs then hand out a bundle of them.

    My complaint isn’t about the small size ( I like the Halloween leftovers are much as the big ones). It’s about the big “backer board” and the air puffed paper overwrap. It’s simply designed to make it look like there is a larger chunk of candy inside when there isn’t. It is, in short, a fraud.

    Yeah, I noticed the “two piece bars” also. Don’t buy them either.

  4. John F. Hultquist says:


    We were given a box of Queen Anne Cordial Cherries, 6.6 oz., in a box large enough to hold a pound. Because it was a gift, I don’t know the price, but maybe about $1.50. A search gave me a weird result on prices – Amazon (as Lil-BigShots) offers a 2-pack for $12.99 plus $5.38 shipping. I never understand how this works. A related offer is for “used” boxes. I’ll pass on that. You can easily find the picture, just search on this:
    “queen anne cordial cherries”

    Inside the box are two plastic trays, each with five hollows for candy. The plastic takes up more volume than the candy. This is a design feature, touted as “air tight fresh seal serv-a-trays” – that’s BS.
    Do a search for “malted milk balls” (or whoppers). For years these sold for 89 to 99 cents for a one pound container. Now the price is above $2 and the size is 12 oz.

    Ice cream has gone to smaller and smaller packages, sometimes with a style change to “hide the decline”.

    I’m sick of this; SICK, I tell you.

  5. John F. Hultquist says:

    Oh. Costco and others are “squaring the circle” to reduce volume for more space efficient packaging and shipping. Do the math. Even with the same amount of product, say milk (still a gallon) (dish and laundry soap, also), they can shave a little on shipping cost by having an extra pallet or so in each truck.

    Just wish they wouldn’t muck around with the amount.

  6. Baa Humbug says:

    This is one of my pet hates. I consider it a fraud on the consumer.

    What makes it worse is when they do a promo where they offer an extra say…10% or 15% they plaster it all over the packaging, but when they reduce the size, not a word.

    Patato chips were reduced from 200grams to 185g then to 175g in short order.

    Cadbury chocolate bars were reduced from 200g to 175g a while back. When the company was asked about it (by a journo who was personaly miffed) Cadbury said they were concerned about the obesity problem and were joining in the fight against obesity.

    Can you believe tha gaul of these people. “Help fight obesity, rip off the consumer”

    (there you go, a quick google reveals this to be an international phenom with ALL companies using the same obesity excuse)

  7. tckev says:

    If you haven’t already seen there is a Wiki for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups at's_Peanut_Butter_Cups

    And yes just about everyone has notice candy is getting smaller, and no it not that I got bigger – the weight and the calories per bar have come down.

    Personally I go for the best value/money/taste all of my own making when shopping for chocolate.
    I hate it when a producer will try (and usually fail) to fool me with varying the size of the bar to maintain a price point. IMO most people accept a justified price rise – yes we may vary our buying habits – but try to fool us with perceived under-weight goods and most folks are irked to the point that they will seek-out a substitute. I certainly do!

  8. boballab says:

    Umm if you really want to see were the largest reductions in size while maintaining the same price it is in Pet Food. Example 5 years ago Walmarts store brand of dog food Ol’Roy was sold in 50lb bags, today they are sold in 44 lb bags for the same price and the smaller bags went the same route. The big name brands also did the same thing but also increased prices recently.

    Oh here is a useless fact: Of that $1 EM spent on that 8 Pk Reese Cups Walmart made at most 13.5 cents (I doubt their profit margin has increased on that item in the last 3 years). Now bottled water on the other hand is the next best thing to a license to print money. That is traditionally been 25 cents on the dollar profit for a store like Walmart at the minimum and people buy that like it’s going out of style year round.

  9. Ralph B says:

    Shrunken nuts and smaller cups…hmmm maybe the cooler weather?

  10. Ian W says:

    Ralph, its certainly the cooler weather – and you have not seen anything yet for price rises if it carries on. Just hope that the Californian floods and Florida freezes have not ruined too much of their crops. Watch the northern plains and hope that there is a normal or early thaw, if not all food sold is going to go the same pay more get less route as the candy bars.

  11. Pascvaks says:

    (Sarc On) You mean you guys didn’t know? I thought everyone knew! Congress passed and the President signed the NEW “Truth in Advertizing and Consumer and Environmental Protection and National Weight Loss Act” some time ago. It was a rider on the trillion dollar stimulus bill last year. Haven’t you noticed how much weight the country has lost in the past 18 months? The folks inside the beltway may be stealing the pennies off the eyes of the dead but they really are looking out for us too. They’re just trying to make things as healthy and painless as they can.(Sarc Off)

    PS: Understand the Chinese have us over a barrel and are teightening the screws too. They threaten to close WalMart AND Costco AND Target AND K-Mart if we don’t stop whining about anything and everything under the Sun.

  12. Ralph B says:

    Ian…innuendo, cold weather-shrinking nuts small cups (athletic type)

  13. PhilJourdan says:

    Welllll….. It could be stealth flation, or – Michelle Obama’s Health kick – shrinking the size of the “bad” foods.

    And how do you know if food is bad?

    from my own doc – if it tastes good, it is bad.

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