I never thought I would turn into one of those “Remember when…” guys, but… Remember when an eight-ounce bag of potato chips cost 89 cents? I do.
It seemed to be a constant during most of my childhood, the late seventies and early eighties. A candy bar cost a quarter and a bag of chips was 89 cents. (I ate a lot of both.) Well. Today I purchased a bag of Lay’s (the most disgusting chips on earth; and considering I live in New York City and have so many better options, like Utz or Herr’s–hey, all I can say is sometimes I get nostalgic for the extra-salty, flavorless chips of my youth) and received quite a shock when I looked at the weight of the bag.
Now I’ve noticed the gradual shrinkage of the standard potato chip bag (and many other products; the coffee can comes to mind) over the years. But I think we’ve reached a new milestone. The size of today’s $1.49 bag of Lay’s? 3 7/8 ounces. That is not a misprint. The standard bag is now less than half the size it was in my youth. If pressed, I would have guessed around five ounces. That’s the last size I recall specifically noticing. And here I thought there was something wrong with me because I finish a bag of chips in one or two days instead of the usual four or five. I knew the bags were getting smaller but less than four ounces?
What’s going on here? I think the snack food conglomerates are preying on Americans’ occasionally correct assumption that productivity increases are providing us real savings. After all, the price of a bag of chips has remained a constant $1.49 for what, a decade now? Given the inevitable inflation, they’re doing a great job keeping the price constant. Except… it’s all a pack of lies. Every couple years, shave off another quarter or eighth of an ounce. Keep the bag the same size, fill it with a little more air. No one will notice the difference. Well, bollocks on that. I am not stupid. I do not need to be fooled into thinking that Frito-Lay is doing me any favors by holding the line on the price of a bag of potato chips.
Just give me the damn eight-ounce bag and charge an honest price for it. I can handle it. The price of everything else has quadrupled (or more) in twenty-five years. Stop treating me like a child. Thanks.