Mr. Tidbit: Shrinking cereal sizes squeeze consumers

09/02/2014 5:39 PM

09/02/2014 5:41 PM

Another example of stealth grocery-price increases just caught Mr. Tidbit’s eye: The boxes of General Mills’ Chex cereals have gotten smaller.

The box of Honey Nut Chex he bought a month or so ago contained 13.8 ounces. The replacement box contains 12.5 ounces. His old box of Corn Chex weighed 14 ounces; the new one is 12.4. His old box of Vanilla Chex (Mr. Tidbit eats lots of Chex) was 13.5 ounces; the new one is 12.1 ounces.

Online shopping indicates that other Chex cereals have undergone similar slimming. The many kinds of Cheerios seem not to have suffered the same squeeze.

It is possible that the shelf prices of Chex cereals have decreased along with the package sizes, but Mr. Tidbit would bet — well, he wouldn’t bet his life — no, nor his fortune (such as it is) … how about his sacred honor? Mr. Tidbit would bet his sacred honor that shelf prices of General Mills’ Chex cereals have not decreased to match the decreases in their size.

If, as he expects, the shelf prices remained constant, the price-per-ounce increases were 10 percent for Honey Nut Chex, 13 percent for Corn Chex and 12 percent for Vanilla Chex.

Perhaps Mr. Tidbit should keep a running list of the price of everything in the supermarket, so when he notices a size decrease he would be able to check the old price. Then again, perhaps not.

Petite but pleasant

Packaged bite-size baked goods have been in stores for years. Mr. Tidbit’s discussion, in 2000, of Entenmann’s then-new line of Little Bites refers to the introduction of Hostess Brownie Bites in 1992, and there have been many others, from various brands (including Twinkie Bites), ever since.

And now Entenmann’s introduces Crème Filled Little Bites (chocolate-frosted, sparingly filled golden and chocolate cupcakes, two to the 1.1-ounce pouch and 8 pouches in a box).

Actually, on the box they are “Créme Filled,” (note the accent) but Mr. Tidbit can’t find it in his heart to hold that lack of punctuational sophistication against them, as he finds them surprisingly enjoyable.

Mr. Tidbit is a weekly feature that examines new grocery products.

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