Here’s How a Little Snack becomes a Calorie Bomb

Twix 4 to GoDoes the following ever happen to you?

You are buying something non food related, and at the check out counter you see a tasty snack that you just can’t resist? You rationalize that it’s only a tiny treat, you need a pick-me-up, and that it’s really just a 100 calorie sin out of 1600 healthy calories you are eating today.

Well that’s what happened to our friend Nena the other day. She eats healthy, cooks most meals, is only 5 pounds overweight, and usually stays away from junk food. Somehow she found herself holding her childhood favorite – Twix – which she proceeded to wolf down in a few minutes.

Nena knows Twix is not healthy by any long shot. But the packaging clearly says 110 calories, so she was not too concerned. it was only after she ate all 4 “fingers” that she realized the calorie information was PER SERVING, not per package.

Twix Portion DistortionReading the small print, Nena realized she had actually consumed 440 calories, which is over 25% of her daily calorie budget! This was an unintended snacking occasion come-calorie-bomb that was led on by very craftily (shall we say deceiving?) presentation of nutrition information to consumers.

The Twix package is single use, once you tear it, you need to eat everything in it. True, you can share with friends, or your kids, or save some for later in your purse (hoping the chocolate won’t melt all over your things). But most people will eat all 4 pieces as a single portion.

This is just one small example of how little tricks are played on us to get us to eat more crap.

How have you been duped recently?

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  • Me

    It says 4 servings per pack right under the 110 calories and it isn’t in super small font. You don’t even need to turn it over to check – I can even see it in the non-zoomed photo.

    I say this is just someone being an idiot and then trying to blame it on the company as tricky labeling. Nena, get a grip and take responsibility for yourself. Don’t send photos like this to Fooducate to try and get support to justify your misdirected blame.

    I will grant you that 4 servings in a pack is odd, but then again if I were eating this I would probably only eat one stick anyway. 4 sticks sounds like a barf fest waiting to happen.

    Troll off.

  • Jensen_G

    It isn’t direct trickery, but the details of the design lead the consumer down the path to eating the whole package.

  • LL

    The package clearly says 110 per serving and 4 servings. Also, think about what you are eating – how could an entire stick be only 25 calories? Blame cannot all go to the packaging on this one.

  • amie

    I can’t even fathom how she could think it’d be only 110 calories for the entire thing. I mean, come ON.

  • Beans

    First of all, there’s no reason for the hostility here (which I think is the real misdirected culprit). We’re talking about package labeling.

    Number two, “Nena,” whether you think of ‘her’ as a dimwit or what, is actually a representation of the majority of Americans’ mindsets when it comes to purchasing foods, and I think this may be what the Fooducate article is referring to. It may be easy for you to say “obviously, it’s written right on there,” but when you don’t know a thing about nutrition or how food labeling works, you may not know this. So no matter how idiotic you think such a person may be, the reality is that many consumers face this exact dilemma and aren’t aware of just how calorie and sugar-packed the snacks they’re eating are.

    If it were that immediately obvious, don’t you think that our country wouldn’t be facing the staggering and growing rates of obesity that we clearly are now? (Better judgment tells me I shouldn’t say ‘duh’ here.)

    The fact is, most consumers aren’t aware of these things, no matter how trivial you may paint them to be. And most consumers, who don’t happen to be concerned with food labeling and nutrition woes (and who typically aren’t the demographic that would be reading a blog like this anyway) will find it surprising to learn just how densely calorie-packed some of their favorite snacks are.

    Let me ask you all a question. Which would you consider ‘healthier’ for the same 1/2 cup serving: (1) Quaker Natural Granola Oats, Honey & Raisins or (2) Breyers Natural Vanilla Ice Cream? The answer is: they are about the same nutrition-wise, yet the granola happens to pack 80 extra calories and more sugar. So Breyers wins.

    From one such example, it’s easy to see why we can’t simply blame the consumer. You are correct in saying that consumers need to be more informed, and that is a part of what Fooducate as well as many others in the food movement are doing now. But to simply point fingers and cite stupidity and ignorance on the part of the consumer as reason enough is, well, ignorant in it’s own right.

    Number three. Let’s keep in mind the billions of dollars that retail food corporations put into advertising every year, not to mention the money these companies put into lobbying, food labeling and the like (they can even pay for good ‘shelving space’ in grocery stores). Then we have a small number of powerful companies that control the supposed plethora of brand choices we have available to us in the supermarket. And here we realize that our purchasing power as a consumer is actually quite limited. Maybe you don’t call it manipulation, but food companies are powerful lobbying institutions, and their goal is to sell product. Recall our example of the Quaker Natural Granola: On the package it clearly states in bold font “heart healthy whole grains.” Well there’s a piece of information that appears to be immediately obvious, yet what I would consider deceptive labeling on the part of General Mills.

    The blame isn’t on the packaging. It’s not on the consumer. It’s on the power of food corporations to sway buyers into purchasing unhealthy options among choices of better ones. That’s because the unhealthiest, calorie-packed and nutrition empty foods are the easiest and cheapest to sell. Because they sell. Now whether this comes down to a Twix bar or a bowl of Quaker Granola is just mere details.

  • http://twitter.com/MattFrank MattFrank

    What I would really like to see is more single serve and small portion snacks in the check out lanes. My local market is really hectic and huge so when I get to the end I tend to treat myself with a drink and a snack. They have “Hint” water which is water with some flavoring but not much else and occasionally will have little snack size things scattered around if you hunt for them. Some stores only have “family size” and “king size” items up front which in the past I would consider picking up but now that I am thinking things through more I pass. I have noticed that the cookies to go containers from Oreos and others are almost always more than one serving, which is a little odd.

    The best snack at a store has to go to CVS. They stock the “to go” Cheerios and other cereals in the store, normally for $1 although you have to go to the cereal area to get them. Cheerios should look into making true snack packs that they could sell in check out lanes, I think they would be quite successful and would be a great healthy option.

  • dj

    It’s the same thing with microwave popcorn. Most people eat the whole bag, thinking it’s a serving.