by Marion Nestle
Feb 21 2010

Do 2-in-1 packs encourage people to eat less chocolate? Alas, no.

European candy makers have been responding to concerns about obesity by taking their ordinary chocolate bars and packaging them so the pack contains two pieces, instead of just one.  Do people eat just one?  According to Dutch researchers, they do not.

Candy eaters “still perceive the entire package as one unit instead of two, because they come in the same wrapper. This also makes them less storable.”

Suggestion: how about making smaller candy bars to begin with?

  • Martin

    “how about making smaller candy bars to begin with?”
    = smaller candy bars for the same price.

  • Every time I see a package (of anything, not just candy) downsize the smaller package is the same price (or higher) as the original package. One more way in which the poor get the dirty end of the stick.

  • As advocates of front of pack food labels, this point demonstrates one of the many ways that food companies will use to get around the negative impact on sales their labels will have when they must begin to show the true calories, salt levels and fat levels of their products.

    It is an established fact that ‘multi-packs’ are considered good value by customers. We all have a natural urge to buy goods on offer. Supermarkets thrive on these special offer practices. However, while the packaging cost goes up for manufacturers they more than gain through increased overall sales.

    What is left is a false impression with the customer that they are getting better value and a product with fewer calories. But what we also know is that customers consume ‘multi-packs’ with just as much abandon as larger portions.

    The other big issue for front of pack labels will be the definition of a portion as that will determine what message the label conveys about the product. Hand in hand with defining portions and their nutrient content is the difficulty that consumers will have with knowing what a portion is without measuring every ounce of food they eat. A large pack of cakes may have several portions, so the label may only have to show modest levels of calories, salt and fat, but how many people spend the time measuring out just one portion?

  • I definitely agree with your idea. Just make the portion sizes smaller! It’s hard for me to stop eating delcious chocolate just because it’s broken into two bars but still in one package. If there’s was just one, smaller bar, I would feel satisfied without feeling the need to open another package. This is why 100 calorie packs work…but they’re such a waste of money.

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  • Anthro

    All snacks should be packaged in one-portion sizes. Not only would this allow people to get a better idea of what a portion really is, but it would begin to convey the idea that you cannot eat very much of these “foods” if you want to be at a healthy weight.

    I’m not concerned about the cost of snack foods–the higher, the better. This is not unfair to the poor, but rather an incentive to not consume much of these high calorie treats, whether rich or poor.

    Buying any food product in bulk is a mistake if it is something you tend to eat too much of. I buy ice cream ONLY in those tiny dixie cup packages just one-at-a-time. One of those is 200 calories, or about half of my dinner! If you are able to have one scoop out of a larger container, more power to you, but knowing (and avoiding) your weaknesses is one of the first steps to weight control.

    It makes me laugh out loud to think that anyone had the idea that two pieces of candy in a package would keep anyone from eating the second piece. There are bunches of M&M’s in a package, but who eats five or six and then puts them away? I’m sure someone does, but not the majority.

  • Cindy

    Mounds and Almond Joys have always been packaged two-to-a-pack. I’ve never known anyone who considered these bars to be more than a single serving.

  • Mom of Two

    Let’s be clear: I’m no fan of junk food (anymore) or its manufacturers. But when I was a kid, getting two Twix bars in a pack meant you shared it with a friend. Ditto the easily-divisible Kit Kat bars.

    As an adult, I have to be careful with portion sizes (particularly with, say, cut fruit — if I find blueberries only in the 12 oz boxes, I can’t buy them because I’ll eat them all. It’s a 6 oz box or nothing for me).

    I don’t know how it is for kids today, but when I was 10, those split portions encouraged us to share.

  • Emily

    Ha, I could have told you this years ago! Who eats just one Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? One Twix? One Hostess cupcake? And, alas, Mom of Two, I think most kids today have so much disposable income that I doubt they’re sharing– and I know for sure grownups aren’t.

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  • Samantha Serum

    I think people who are concerned about portion control would cut a candy bar in half, and two pieces of a candy bar aren’t going to stop someone who isn’t concerned. I love chocolate, but it can sit in my kitchen for weeks and me not eat it because I have some when I crave it, and don’t when I don’t. It’s about mindfulness, which has to come from the mind of the person, not any external factor.

  • That’s kind of like freezing your chocolate chip cookies so they won’t be so tempting, until you discover (duh….) that this is the very best, most delicious way to eat chocolate chip cookies!

    Have fun in Barcelona (that’s pronounced BarTHelona, of course….!)