If you buy a heart-shaped box of chocolates this Valentine’s Day, you may find it’s only half full. That’s not because of some manufacturing issue, it’s something some brands are doing intentionally to dupe customers. They’re using bigger boxes to trick people into thinking they’re getting more for their money than they actually are, according to Edgar Dworsky, founder of Consumer World.
“This is about ‘overpackaging,” he explains. When a reader shared their outrage over a recently purchased box of chocolates, Dworsky did some investigating and found Russell Stover and Whitman’s Sampler chocolates, which sell for around $7.99 only contained between nine and 11 pieces in a box, which leaves about two-thirds of the box empty. And that can be very misleading to shoppers.
Another thing that companies are doing that we should be on the lookout for is “shrinkflation,” where the product’s price stays the same, but the amount you get is less. According to Dworsky, candy is one of the common products that tends to be downsized periodically. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that other items that regularly get downsized include household paper products, snacks, and pastries, like coffee cakes and doughnuts.
The easiest way to notice these issues is by looking at the net weight on the packaging before you buy.
And there’s still one traditional Valentine’s Day gift that won’t be affected by shrinkflation. Dworsky notes, “A dozen roses, thank God, is still 12.”