Mary Lynn Bruny

I got out a new roll of toilet paper the other day and saw that it was noticeably narrower than what has always been the standard size. What the heck? Do TP manufacturers think we won’t notice this, that we’re this clueless? Hey, product manufacturers: We do notice. We know you’re doing this because of increasing raw material costs but we do not like this product shrinkage.

First it was two-by-four boards. This was pre-pandemic. Did you know that two-inch by four-inch wood boards are not actually two-by-four inches? No, they are a bit less. How silly is this? Lumber manufacturers thought this was a way to save a dime, so there you have it.

Side note: On the opposite end of the spectrum are the women’s clothing manufacturers. Every year clothing sizes are getting smaller even though the clothes are getting bigger. I’ll admit, I do not mind this falsity. As our oldest son sadly said when his father cruelly told him that Santa Claus wasn’t real: “I know it was a lie, but it was a beautiful lie.” Learning that the Easter bunny wasn’t real almost put him over the edge, poor little dude. Don’t worry: Now he’s a happy, well-adjusted adult who only cries a little on the holidays.

But back to these annoying manufacturers. What’s really causing me math stress is the shrinkage of food products. I first noticed this when I went to make Laura’s crunchy glazed pecans last year during the holidays. (These are everybody’s favorites. Great as a snack or on a salad with pears and goat cheese. Yum! If you want the recipe, email me.) This recipe is based on a pound of nuts, 16 ounces. But now nut manufacturers, trying to keep the same price point, are packaging nuts in 14-ounce bags. Thus I had to try and figure out what 7/8 of all the other ingredients would be. What is 7/8 of a teaspoon and a half of salt or 7/8 of a quarter cup of corn syrup? I needed an app for this or a younger brain.

But even worse is the shrinkage effect on the hundreds of Campbell soup recipes – staples where I grew up, the Midwest. These recipes are all based on the traditional sized soup can. But these have shrunk too causing recipe conversion confusion.

Granted, I haven’t made a Campbell soup recipe in a long time. But who knows when I will want to rediscover my Ohio roots and make a tuna noodle casserole with condensed cream of celery soup? This delicious dish has the perfect ratio of bad fats, empty carbs and salt. (Again, email me if you want the recipe.) Growing up, a dinner like this would have been followed by a festive dessert like Jell-O with canned fruit chunks. Got to get your daily helping of processed sugar, too. (All this being said, Midwesterners are very happy people. Maybe instead of giving up gluten or fasting until noon we should consider this diet. I would call it “The Midwestern Potluck Party” diet.)

Unfortunately, I think more shrinking products are in our future. We Americans love low prices even if we have to buy more of something. Thus I’ll need to buy two bags of nuts to make my regular nut recipe. While shopping I might as well pick up some mini candy bars for Halloween. I hear although they’re half the size of regular candy bars they only have a quarter of the calories. And that’s a beautiful lie I’m choosing to believe.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn writes about local real estate and home-related topics. Contact her at [email protected].