Fee-Fi-Foe-Fumming Hell That’s Got Smaller

To coincide with the streets of Liverpool being invaded by ‘The Giants’ once more it seemed timely to resurrect the old chestnut of a widespread complaint that will follow shortly after this moan. They say ‘Giants’ but that’s only if the definition of a giant is a mahogany muppet with a twelve-ton forklift truck shoved up its arse being slowly driven around while a legion of obviously absinthe-crazed French people swing about on ropes shouting, “Allez Oup!” Come on, it’s not exactly ‘Jurassic Park’ level CGI is it? Might as well go and stand in the warehouse section of B&Q and watch them stack pallets of magnolia paint. Still, it is said it generates millions in revenue for the city, which is great, and I shall await my cut to arrive presently.

To tonight’s rant, which is written without booze because I face an alcohol and drug screening tomorrow. (I wonder if I will fail the test if I’m not pist and/or high; it didn’t state which result, positive or negative, they are after?) I know the following matter of contention has been going on since the 70s at least because I remember my Dad voicing a similar complaint as I am going to today.

It could be easily assumed you are suffering with gigantism when you are of a certain age and pick up today’s chocolate bars in the retail outlet of your choice. Tiny they are, dwarfed by the vast expanse of your palm in comparison. But what’s the truth here; are we getting freakishly bigger or are the familiar chocolate snacks shrinking? We all know it’s obviously the latter…but is it?

A quick bit of half-hearted research has brought some interesting facts to light and it’s a case of half-a-dozen of one and a complete rip-off of another. Let’s start at the accepted currency for this debate, the ever favourite Mars Bar. To anyone of a certain age and sanity level these things are about a fifth of the size they were when we were kids, though obviously ten times the price. That is an undisputed concrete fact voiced in boozers up and down the land. No argument. Everyone, including me, knows Mars Bars have been getting progressively smaller year on year. Except we’re wrong. According to my research, the size of the Mars Bar has been up and down like a ho’s knickers…actually, that’s an exaggeration (and possibly a slight against sex workers) but it has fluctuated somewhat. In the 1980s a Mars Bar weighed 49g, in the 90s it beefed up to a whopping 65g but it has since slimmed down again to today’s 51g. A slight increase in bulk overall but I can’t find any figures for the 1970s so I will have to rely on my infallible memory and inform you they were at least 2.2kilo in weight back then, which is obviously a disgraceful amount of decrease in chocolate, nougat and caramel for our money.

Other popular sugary snacks that have also taken the hit from all-time highs are Yorkies, Kit Kats, Twix and Wagon Wheels; in my day you could have fitted one of these mallow filled discs to an actual wagon, no problem. The new shaped Dairy Milk bars are an obvious geometric rip off (I just haven’t worked out how yet) and a reliable inside source told me that the bubbles in Aero have increased in size by more than 600% over the decades. On the other hand some treats have made a move to be bigger than the originals, these include the Lion Bar and Double Deckers. But as both are akin to the taste of the contents of a vacuum cleaner’s bag, muesli in other words, who cares about that futile win? Crème Eggs are also up by 1g since the seventies but this plus was more than negativised by the fact the recipe was changed and they used some kind of Johnny Foreigner chocolate which made them, according to one consumer, ‘…as palatable as baboon testicles…’ (Citation needed.)

The fact is we all know chocolate bars have got smaller and I have proved that they have…and they haven’t. It’s a bit like imaginative book-keeping presented to the tax man, it’s numerically accurate but only in the spirit of the word. It could be we’re just greedy and even if a modern Mars Bar was the length of our arm we would still perceive it to be smaller than it was back in the day.

Pasties, however, I swear are shrinking before my very eyes. I don’t need rose tinted glasses for this one as I now confuse a sausage and bean savoury with a second-class postage stamp 8 times out of 10. This has led to some very messy letters being posted and more than I care to think about far from satisfying, self-adhesive brunches. Add the fact that most of the filling seems to be proved by a foot pump, plus the price hikes that are not even blushed about and I think the savoury world has been running amok while we were all diverted by the alleged chocolate fraud. As we wailed and gnashed our teeth at seemingly undersized Mars Bars, the sausage roll under over very nose was shrivelling like a penis in a cold shower…a vision that I am sure has just cost Greggs several million in lost sales. Sorry Mr Gregg.

You might be thinking all this re-sizing skulduggery is driven by the desire for bigger profits but you’re wrong, nothing could be further from the manufacturers’ minds. This reductionist policy is all in the name of altruism, it is for our benefit that these titans of the high street are deflating our nosebag. Do you want to be fat? Or contract type 2 diabetes? Of course you don’t and the companies do not want this for you either. Out of the goodness of their hearts they are taking charge and looking after us. God bless them, one and all.

Except I get a gut feeling (aside from the hunger because of miniscule Mars and paltry pastries rattling in my stomach) that’s not really on the level. Are we supposed to believe that these downsizing exercises are for own good? Yeah, I think not too. If the shrinkage was reflected in proportion with the price of the items I would see some veracity to the claims but that is clearly not the case. I was in a shop the other day and noticed the asking price for a Mars Bar was 75p! 75p! That’s almost 75p in today’s money. When I was a lad back in the 1970s a Mars Bar cost 2p. No, it was free. That’s right, I remember now, it came free with 1,000 pink shrimps that cost ⅕ of one penny per 500. Great days that all you millennials missed out on and are whinging about…of course we all had to fight in the Viet Nam War but as long 500 pink shrimps were ⅕ of a penny we were okay with that. The same with the pasties, four decades ago, you could buy seven pasties for a single groat or half a weasel if the shop keep was up for bartering. Nowadays a cheese and onion filled pastry envelope will break the bank at £1.30 minimum. For £1.30 in 1973 I would have been able to buy a seven bedroom house, a Ferrari, a Bond girl and still have change for chips on the way home.

Our conclusions.

Chocolate bars and other snacking items have fluctuated in size not merely decreased but they are mostly lesser from their heyday heights. Their prices have never decreased, and I suspect there are more rises to come, so by default they have most certainly shrunk in value to return ratio.

There will probably be more types of diabetes added to the popular two at the moment to cover our insatiable desire to consume shit that is generally bad for us. Plus we’re going to get arses that will be at least 98% lardy and slap against the backs of our knees as we waddle about consuming higher numbers of the smaller goodies to reach gratification.

Does any of this insightful wisdom give us the right to continue to complain about the ever decreasing size of stuff that was truly massive in our childhoods? Too right it does. For us old folk it was Mars Bars; for the next generation, and those to follow I suspect, it will be more about the screen size on mobile phones or how Facebook pouts were so much fuller back in the day or how a Columbia’s worth of weed only cost a ten spot. Which goes to prove one thing if nothing else, innocence has become much, much smaller since my days of worry concerning pink shrimps and Wagon Wheels.