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Daze of My Life: Round and Round They Used To Be

Daze of My Life
Round and Round They Used To Be
by Kenneth B. Lourie

As a creature of excruciatingly repetitive habit, especially with respect to what I eat and how I eat it (I'll spare you the details), I think, but I do not know for sure, that the DoubleStuf Oreo cookies that I know and have loved for many years are smaller in diameter than they looked and felt a few short months ago. This may be my imagination, but there are very few things with which I have as much experience as I do with Oreo cookies. I wouldn't bet my life on this observation, but I might bet yours, however.
Still, I would be willing to bet a few dollars, anyway, that something has changed, make that something has been taken away, from my beloved Oreos.
Years ago, I remember when I first noticed--and in turn--first wrote a column about Oreos. It was when Nabisco introduced the chocolate creme variety, so popular in my home. I noticed then that the bag was smaller than the traditional DoubleStufs. It was not 20 ounces, as the original had been, but instead was 15-percent lighter, down to 17 ounces in fact, for the same price, no less. Then I remember checking the weight of the DoubleStuf and sure enough, it also had been reduced, 10 percent from its previous size, to 18 ounces, where it remains today, and again without an accompanying reduction in price.
And until this evening at my parents' house, I would have said that the reduction in the weight of the bag was the extent of the damage, or shall I say, the extent of the manufacturer's manipulation in the pursuit of profit. Now I may be wrong, and if I am, it certainly wouldn't be the first time nor probably the last; but given my years, make that decades, of experience handling and eating Oreo cookies, I know from whereof I speak and from where I sit and eat as well. And not that size matters, as has been so often joked, but it's the principle of shrinkage, another laughable notion, that bothers me more. Certainly I understand that businesses are in business to make money, not simply to feed my face. But exactly what are the chances of Nabisco's cookie/cracker empire crumbling because there's not enough dough coming in? Minimal I would guess. Except of course if consumers learn that not only is Nabisco reducing the quantity of cookies per bag but is also reducing the size of those individual cookies as well, without lowering the price. Talk about adding insult to injury. You can't reduce quantity and quality and expect the consumer to sit idly by. Well, I'm not sitting idly by. If Nabisco wants--or needs--to sell a smaller version of its Oreo cookie, that's its prerogative. But not telling the consuming public about it would be no way to keep my cookie loyalty. Foolhardy though it may be to risk a relationship with an American public eager to snack-food and dessert its way through life, nevertheless size is in the eye--make that hand--of the beholder. And if in fact the cookie is smaller, and I have no measurable proof, other than the look and feel, that it is, and there's no price reduction forthcoming, I feel it only appropriate to publicize this price insensitivity. If I've erred in my Oreo-cookie-size assessment, all the better; that means there's still plenty of cookie--and crime--to love. But if I'm right, then it means that I, along with many other cookie lovers, have been wronged. And as we all know, or were probably told all of our lives--two wrongs don't make a right.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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