It’s a new year and that means a new set of convictions (to add to my existing set of course). Over the course of last year I would stumble on some food products that left a bad taste in my mouth. Generally this was due in part to the ingredients or preparation. However, every once in awhile something in the product marketing overshadowed how good it might have tasted or just put the experience even further in the hole. This year I’ve decided to call attention to these situations for a couple of reasons. If it is a deceptive practice, then you should be aware of it as a consumer. If I’m just viewing it wrong or missing some aspect of it, I would like to know so I can adjust my opinion appropriately. No surprise, this particular post is case in point.
hit the jump to see the details of the issue:
Yesterday, Linda and I went up to the Quad Cities to deal with some paper work for her mother. As we were getting ready to leave for home, her mom gave us a box of Meltaways from Fannie May. Now if there is one weakness I have, it is chocolate from Fannie May. They did go through some tough times a few years back (in fact, I think they went bankrupt, but not sure on that), but they have a few stores around now and when given the chance I’ll drop in and pick a few pieces up (especially the dark vanilla creams -yum). Due to sleet and generally nasty weather, it took a long time to get home. After all that stress, it was definitely time for some chocolate! Off came the wrapping and the lid to reveal the tasty delights…. all thirty t … WAIT! What is up with this cardboard spacer on both sides of the box? As far as I can tell, this box is now 8 pieces shorter that it used to be (note, if you are counting, I ate one before getting the camera out). This leaves me a paltry 26 pieces.
A quick validation (see evidence below) shows that this packaging is definitely cheating me out of two rows of candy. Now I know that they are required to give the actual weight on the box, and I have no doubt they have adjusted the packaging to include the proper weight. In fact a quick check of the first picture shows that the weight is embossed on the lid of the box (6.2 oz).
I quickly flipped to the Nutrition Facts label on the bottom of the box in hopes of finding some logical explanation. Apparently they know that 5 pieces are equal to (43g) and that is the number they have chosen for a serving size. Interesting enough, the box is configured in rows of 4 in either 6 or 8 rows. Wouldn’t it be easier to just use 4 or in the new case 6 just to make the math a little easier with the servings per container? Instead I have to deal with a stupid 5. Okay, I’ll do the computation for you. 176/43 = 4.09. That implies there is a little more than 4 servings in this particular box – this would be contrary to the stated Servings Per Container on the label which calls out “About 4”. Now I’m just plain confused. Servings size is stated at 5 and there are 24 pieces of chocolate in the box. That is clearly over 4 and in fact a single piece of rounding chocolate to get you 5 servings in the box. By my calculation, the box should say “About 5” unless I’m missing something here.
Let’s get back to the primary complaint. The missing component is I neither know what Linda’s mom paid for the box nor do I remember what I used to pay for the box when it was NOT missing 2 rows. If I was an optimist, I would convince myself I am paying only 75% of the full box price (accepting any inflation adjustments of course). If I was a pessimistic individual I would assume the consumer is being fleeced. I did noodle a little bit on the possibility they were just being green and were trying to use up box inventory before they roll out a new size that is appropriate for 6 and not 8 rows. But eventually threw that concept out since they bothered to emboss the weight on the box lid and the bottom has the nutrition facts imprinted on it as well instead of using the more economical approach of stickers. At this point anybody purchasing this particular wrapped box would think they are getting more than they really are, especially if they have purchased this previously without the spacers. Regardless of whether the cost is a wash or not, my first impression after seeing the spacers is I was being screwed. Is this really the best message to send to your customers? Especially with Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in town now with a delicious dark orange (and raspberry) jelly candy!
As always, your opinions are welcome … especially if you have any insights into Fannie’s packaging policies.