Richard Ord: The very big issue of shrinking choccies

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As an eight-year-old, I was once trapped under a Mars bar for five hours.

It had fallen on my leg while I was sorting out my packed lunch. Fortunately I was found by my brother and his pals who used a Curly Wurly over a Murray Mint to lever the confectionary off my leg and set me free.

Some may complain that, these days, sweets are a lot smaller than they used to be, but not me. I’m glad the days of Mars bars the size of wardrobes are over.

At least that’s how I remember it. You may remember it as Wagon Wheels being a lot bigger when you were a child. Each to their own.

A report from the Office for National Statistics out this week says more than 2,500 consumer products have shrunk over the last five years while remaining the same price. They call it Shrinkflation. For once Brexit is not being blamed. Apparently it’s linked in no small measure to fluctuating material costs and international inflationary pressures, but mainly it’s linked to downright greed.

The result is products getting smaller, containing fewer ingredients and weighing less.

If shrinkflation continues there are serious plans to rename many of the products now on sale. Maltesers for example, may soon be sold as Malteser. You pay the same price, but the bag contains only one Malteser.

In recent years, traders have had to monkey around with the semantics when marketing their products.

For example, they don’t sell very small Mars bars, they sell you “fun-sized” Mars bars. I mean, what could be more fun than an undersized product?

My wage packet has shrunk considerably over the last few years, but my line manager assures me all is well. “It’s just fun-sized,” he told me. Made me feel a lot better.

Consumers, however, are beginning to see through the fun-sized ruse, resulting in marketing executives inventing new definitions. Forget fun-sized, they’re now looking at ‘hilarious-sized’ right down to the ‘comically-sized’ Toblerone which can only be viewed through an electron microscope. Some products are shrinking so fast they are to be renamed. The Marathon bar is to return, as the 1,500 metres bar.

Cadbury’s Chocolate Fingers have also been hit. Appropriately there’s two fewer in a packet today – two fingers down in the packet, two fingers up to the consumer. The fingers are getting so small, that they considered calling them Cadbury’s Chocolate Toes. More accurate, but less appetising.

The shrinking Jelly Babies may also be rebranded as Premature Jelly Babies.

There’s even talk of replacing expensive ingredients to justify the cost. The Milky Bar, is now the Evaporated Milky Bar, Wine Gums become Cider Gums, and Millionaire’s Shortbread is now Jobseeker’s Allowance Shortbread. A sad sign of our times.

l Send in your shrinkflation product names. The best will be printed, in small print naturally.