The Miniaturisation of Our Chocolate Bars
I need to re-read 1984 again. I’m living like a lesser Winston Smith, thinking half the time “is it just me?” A colleague provided the above prompt about chocolate and I was reminded of the miniaturization of chocolate portions, as it were, in London, 1984:
As short a time ago as February, the Ministry of Plenty had issued a promise (a “categorical pledge” were the official words) that there would be no reduction of the chocolate ration during 1984. Actually, as Winston was aware, the chocolate ration was to be reduced from thirty grams to twenty at the end of the present week. All that was needed was to substitute for the original promise a warning that it would probably be necessary to reduce the ration some time in April.
Not to get cynical (I can’t actually. I would in fact get called in by the thought police), but, hypothetically, sometimes a faint whiff of such retrospective admin might threaten to creep in to some contexts. You might find, for example, hypothetically speaking, a resource utterly indispensible. Then there aren’t funds to support it. Then research appears with a tidy graph showing that it isn’t all that useful after all, so well, hey, we might as well not fund it.
Not that that happens.
But back to the chocolate. Yes indeed, chocolate bars have shrunk over time. Remember how big Wagon Wheels were in the seventies? They were the size of wagon wheels. A meal in themselves, except no one was all that sure if they liked the mallow/biscuit combo.
I remember when Mars Bars were the size they were meant to be. They were 17p each. My friend got 51p for her pocket money and was able to buy three Mars Bars. That’s the only reason I know that 3 times 17 is 51.
If that is granted all else follows…
I also remember being pregnant and didn’t know I was (slow on the uptake) and kept a stash of mars bars in my desk at work. I progressed to double deckers for the second baby.
It turns out I was wise. While Mars Bars have shrunk after peaking in the 1990s, Double Deckers have increased in size. Very satisfying.
Couple of reasons:
Consumers are mugs and creatures of habit. The companies can sell us less for the same and we still buy it. So why wouldn’t they?
Sometimes there is a less cocoa available globally, so to eke it out, they shrink the bars.
Also, the anti-sugar people try to get portion sizes to shrink, so sometimes they do.
Generally, I am an anti-sugar person, so don’t really eat these things, except for yesterday and today for race-related reasons/excuses.
When I was pregnant, I used to go through an impressive amount of chocolate. If there wasn’t an unopened four-pack of double deckers in the house I would get really twitchy and have to source some. You never know when you might want to eat four.
Two plus two makes four.
Or five, if you make them all a bit smaller.