Friday, February 17, 2012



Mars, Inc., the maker of, among other delectable treats, Snickers bars, told the world yesterday that it will soon commence selling us less Snickers (and Milky Ways, M&M’s, Three Musketeers, etc.) for the same money. The poohbahs at Mars have the temerity to tell us that they are doing so out of concern for our health, that they don’t want us to get (stay, really) fat and so they will not sell us portions of candy that contain more than 250 calories. This will be achieved not by, Thank God, changing the recipe (except for perhaps less salt in the formula), but by reducing the size of the Snickers bar.

Just how stupid do the Mars people think we are? Regular readers of this column know that I have approximately the same regard as did H.L. Mencken for the intelligence of the American people regarding political, financial, cultural, and historical matters. But in matters like shopping and getting the most for our money, we Americans have few, if any, rivals. And no American shopper worth his or her Milky Way is going to fall for the claptrap that the good people at Mars are looking out for our health rather than stiffing us on our Snickers Bar…is s/he? Clearly, Mars is motivated not by a concern for our collective health but, rather, by a desire to save, and hence make, money.

Mars’ efforts at saving money are completely understandable; the costs of raw materials keep going up at the same time that it is very difficult to pass along these cost increases. Somethin’s gotta give, and hence the reduction in the size of our Snickers bars. This follows a growing trend of less cereal or less pasta in the box, less sausage on the pizza, less meat (and lettuce and tomato) on the sub, fewer pancakes in the order, etc. with no concomitant reduction in price. (What is even more alarming is that the Fed and the financial “experts” seem to be falling for this, insisting that inflation is running at “only” 3% while taking no account that we are getting more for less, but that is grist for a more contemplative post.) Again, all understandable…but all so dishonest, or at least sneaky. And now that the incredible shrinking portion trend has hit very close to home with the Snickers bar, I thought it time for the Pontificator to pipe up on this perfidious plot against a perhaps pliable and purblind public rather than wait for the same pernicious trend to hit my even more beloved White Castle slider; it’s already hit the rings.

Men of Mars…charge us more if you must, but please don’t try to sell us, for the same (or, who knows, maybe even more) money, a portion capable of filling only a tooth. We may like our burgers small (but no smaller…we have our eye on you guys at the Porcelain Palace!) and riddled with holes, but we like our Snickers BIG!


John said...

One interesting factor though is that Mars might actually be able to drive up sales with this scheme. Look at the popularity of "100 calorie packs" of chips etc. Companies have discovered that people are willing to pay more for less if they feel it's healthy. Another study recently at Duke allowed researchers to take over how food is sold at a Chinese restaurant. It sounded like a Panda Express.

Essentially, the servers asked if people would like a "half order" of noodles and the calorie count of a full or half order was displayed. Something like 30% of the people chose a half order, even though there was no price discount.

The Pontificator said...

Thanks, John, for reading and commenting.

It's amazing what people will fall for, eh? Rather than pay the same for twice as much, take half home, and make two reduced calorie meals out of it, they pay, effectively, twice as much per ounce of food.

And we wonder why we elect the dullards and thieves that we do!

Thanks again, John.

The Pontificator said...


I guess I can't blame Mars for doing this; if people are so willing, indeed eager, to be snookered, why not snooker them?

Thanks again.