There is an interesting oped in the Washington Post this morning called “Portion Distortion,” explaining how fast food companies have over the years manipulated and marketed portions to incredible sizes, creating a generation of enormous people who claim that they didn’t know the food was fattening.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say a $1.25 bag of French fries costs $1 to produce. The potatoes, oil and salt account for only 20 cents of the cost. The other 80 cents goes toward all the other expenses. If you add half again as many French fries to the bag and sell it for $1.50, the non-food expenses stay pretty much constant, while the extra food costs the franchise only 10 more pennies. The fast-food joint makes an extra 15 cents in pure profit, and the customer thinks he’s getting a good deal. And he would be, if he actually needed the extra food, which he doesn’t because the nation is awash in excess calories.
The final step in the fattening of America was the “upsell,” a stroke of genius whose origins are buried somewhere in the annals of marketing. You’re already at the counter, you’ve ordered a cheeseburger value meal for $3.74, and your server says, “Would you like to super-size that for only $4.47?” Such a deal. The chain extracts an extra 73 cents from the customer, and the customer gets an extra 400 calories — bringing the total calorie count to 1,550, more than half the recommended intake for an adult man for an entire day.
Read the entire article here at the Washington Post.