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Is a Bag of Chips 1/2 Empty or 1/2 Full?

November 14, 2011

Bag of Chips 1/2 Full or 1/2 Empty?

It’s always been a favorite past time of current generations to make fun of the previous ones by mocking their complaints about the cost of things being so much less when they were kids. I have participated, of course.  Why wouldn’t I?  There was no concern of “turn about” from future generations because inflation has been raising the cost of things so consistently throughout my life, that I don’t remember what a pack of gum or a postage stamp even cost when I was a kid. So, I mocked and felt content knowing that the sarcastic lashings would never be returned by my future grandkids since I would never be able to make the cost comparison in the first place.

Karma, however, always lurks spitefully in the shadows, ever ready to serve up a Cool Whip topped bowl of just deserts.  For now it turns out that my actions will not be spared such a categorical dismissal by the fates.  I know this because lately I have found myself complaining loudly about, not an increase of things, but a decrease.

I think I first noticed it in bags of chips. You know when you first pop open a giant bag of chips, and it looks like someone has beat you to it?  The whole top half to third of the bag is completely devoid of snack.  Instead they packed it with air so you can’t do the squeeze test.  You know, back in my day, we used to get giant full bags of chips that would last for weeks!

Then I noticed it in the cereal isle.  I have a childhood memory of having to utilize a bear hug grip to carry a cereal box down the isle.   Now, I currently own many softback novels that are thicker than today’s box of Total.  “Why, when I was a kid, we needed a whole separate shopping cart just for one box of cereal!”

Bags of coffee went off the 16-ounce pound long before I was drinking it, but just the other day I caught 8 O’Clock Coffee brand even reduce from the new standard twelve ounce “pound” coffee bag, to a lacking 11 ounces.  I might have missed it except that when I open a bag of coffee, I pour the beans into a mason jar to keep them fresh. After the pour, I used to always have 6-8 scoops of beans left in the bag that would not fit into the jar. Then one day, POOF!  It’s a perfect fit.

11 Ounce Pound of Coffee

"Oooooooo! 8 O'Clock with your 11-Ounce Pound of Coffee!!!"

Coca-Cola? More like Joke-A-Cola!!

Coca Cola is the most recent product to drop. They began with a 10 ounce glass bottle in 1894. Over time they grew to 12-ounces, then 16-ounces and eventually a whopping 20 ounces of delicious soda.  Inside all of those graduating ouces, 1956 was when Coke introduced the 12-ounce can.  Today however, they’ve gone the way of the “Fun Sized” candy bar, introducing a meager 7-ounce can.  It sits beside yester-year’s 12-ounce can like two siblings with a decade seperation between them.   “Why, When we used to go camping, we didn’t bring canteens, we just packed one bottle of Coke, and we all drank from it for days!”

Some comfort comes in the observation that everything on this planet seems to move in cycles. The day becomes bright, then the night forces us back into dark; the Summer grows hot, before the Winter jealously steals away our warmth; and so in the first half of my life, packages of food grew bigger and bigger.  I lived in the magical time of 20 ounce soda bottles, king sized candy bars, Hungry Man frozen dinners, all of them sold in 24-packs at giant Costco warehouse stores. It was a great ride!

Now, that season has come to an end, and like the recoil of every other cycle on this planet, I am only able to recognize how things had been by holding them against how they are now becoming.  I already catch myself mumbling in the grocery isle to myself, “Aw man, look at this!” as I angrily put the food item into my cart anyway.  The day is coming, though.  I can almost see it even now.  I am in the kitchen of my daughter’s house “helping” with the Thanksgiving dinner, and she turns to me and says, “Dad, you can help by getting the cans of soup from the pantry and opening them up for me.”

I’ll look into the cupboard with a frown, seeing a food stock full of tiny cans and boxes, and my predictable grumbling will crank up once again.  I’ll talk incessantly about how things used to be bigger and better, how the same price got you ten times more.  And I won’t cease until I notice my grandchild in the next room is doing a spot on impersonation of me and my generation.

“You call this a pantry?  When I was a kid, you could fit eight of your pantries into just one of ours.  Why, when building a pantry, it was common practice for contractors to have the frame of a pantry built around a living horse, just to be sure it was big enough to store a week’s worth of groceries!  Look at this can!  How do you expect to feed all these people with what’s inside such a tiny little can?  Why in my day…”  

And that’s another thing.  I really hate kids these days!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sam Hurst permalink
    November 17, 2011 8:42 pm

    Jim, I’m a bit older than you so I remember when a Coke was 6 cents and a regular candy bar was 10 cents. A pack of gum was a nickel and postage was 3 cents for a letter. But the thing that really “gets” me now days is the half-gallon of ice cream. Do you know that to Bryers, a half-gallon is 48 ozs. and for most others it’s 56 ozs. Last I heard, a half-gallon is still 64 ozs. By the way, Publix hasn’t forgotten with their store brand.

    Your father-in-law

    • November 17, 2011 10:11 pm

      Good point! Your experience has made you wise indeed, sir. Wise indeed.

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