Grocery Shrink Ray Zaps Skippy Natural Peanut Butter

Pew! Pew! Grocery Shrink Ray zapped Skippy Natural Peanut Butter. You know what’s really going to be something? When they start raising the prices on all the products they shrunk. Then we’ll see some real purchasing power loss.

(Photo: Nathan Huth)

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  1. azntg says:

    A shrunken Skippy. It’s au naturel, at least when compared to countless other products that the manufacturers oh-so-subtly shrunk while keeping prices constant.

  2. pbwingman says:

    I’ll start being more concerned about Skippy when they start zapping my 4 lb tub of spreadable joy. Only crazy people buy the itty-bitty jars anyways.

  3. Juliekins says:

    I like hippie peanut butter but this stuff is gross. It has palm oil in it because stirring peanut butter is scary omgeverybodypaniclolol!!!!!11. (Okay, it is messy. I’ll cop to that.) Still, I don’t care for the taste or texture. I like the stuff in the bulk bin at the hippie mart, or Target’s house brand natural PB.

    I have to keep the peanut-flavored vegetable shortening around for my husband, who can’t abide natural PB. I honestly am not sure how I ever ate that stuff. I bake with it because I think it bakes more nicely than the hippie kind, but I don’t like it for sandwiches and whatnot.

  4. purplesun says:

    I make my own.

    I’m sure it costs more, but it sure tastes better. And I can make it in small batches (I don’t eat much peanut butter, but I do get in the mood sometimes).

    Seriously, try homemade peanut butter. It’s a world apart.

  5. This is one of the peanut butters that didn’t try to kill me.

  6. timmus says:

    a shrunken Skippy

    Now I’m starting to understand why Mallory didn’t really dig him.

  7. Weezy F Baby says:

    Jesus. You get a couple TV and radio appearances and Consumerist turns into the Grocery Shrink Ray blog.

    Mo’ page views, Mo’ Problems.

  8. Weezy F Baby says:

    And in anticipation of the moderator that will swoop in here to tell me that problems with the article should be sent directly to the post’s author:

    Fuck you. This entire website is about standing up to businesses that take their consumers for granted. If me or anyone else has a problem with the frequency of these stupid “Grocery Shrink Ray” posts, we should be able to air our grievances in the comments section. You’re not a newspaper. Hell, you’re not even a newsletter. Get over yourselves. And stop posting these dumb stories. I understand that it’s cool to be on TV and stuff, but COME ON!

  9. basket548 says:

    @Weezy F Baby:

    Agreed. And since comments sent directly to the author never have a chance to be heard by the community, which, let’s face it, is what keeps this site interesting (I certainly am more interested in the comments), the community should be able to comment about just about anything. Longest sentence ever.

    But seriously, Ben, though it is giving the site a lot of pub, why alienate those who come here for genuine consumer stories and stimulating discussion?

    I propose a solution, so the precious Shrink Ray is not lost: a weekly feature, highlighting a single item that has been shrunk. You can even make it into a contest, where the submitter ‘wins’ a prize, maybe even the newly shrunk product.

    That way, the grocery shrink ray is not lost, nor is it pounded into our heads every single day. And those that hate it (myself included) can safely ignore that one post a week.

  10. u1itn0w2day says:

    Actually,most peanut butter used to be 18oz before it was shrunk to 16.3 oz in Skippy’s case and now 15 oz.Walgreens had a promotion several weeks back pushing the 16.3oz packaged the same as an 18 oz.Even a local dollar store which used to sell older 18 oz is pushing a 12 oz size

  11. Shrink_Ray_Bandit says:

    @basket548: Agreed
    @Weezy F Baby: You’re my hero

    Arrrrrrrrr. I’m the shrink ray bandit, I took your 1.3oz of peanut butter!!! BWHAHAHAHAHA! Come General Disarray, time to take over the world!!

  12. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    You know, something just occurred to me.

    When the product shrinks by a trivial amount, what happens to the number of servings per package as stated on the label? Does it stay the same, or does it change, or does (say) “16 servings” on the 16.3 ounce size change to “About 16 servings” on the 15 ounce size?

    Seriously, this (as well as the perishable milk and meat crisis in the previous post) can have tremendous repercussions on the very poor. When I was a poor college student trying to make ends meet with a minimum wage job and a baby I was unable to breastfeed (didn’t have enough milk), we received food assistance for a few months. This wasn’t food stamps, but a predetermined list of things I could get once per month. The list said things like “16-oz block of natural cheese” and “20-oz jar of peanut butter”. Even at that time the former pound cuts of cheese were packaged in 12-ounce sizes, and the peanut butter was shrunk to an 18-ounce size. Since I wasn’t allowed to get more than the list specified, the packagers were basically cheating me and my son out of 4 ounces of cheese a month and 2 ounces of peanut butter… which doesn’t really sound like that much, but four ounces of cheese makes four grilled cheese sandwiches or a big casserole dish of macaroni and cheese, and two ounces of peanut butter makes two or three peanut butter sandwiches. That represents, I’d estimate, about five to seven meals.

  13. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Weezy F Baby:

    You don’t like it, don’t read it. It is easy not to click on these links.

  14. Mollyg says:

    @speedwell: Dude, that is a darn good point.

  15. jjeefff says:

    @Weezy F Baby: Agreed! I think they are pushing for a Larry King appearance. Larry: please invite Ben on so we can stop seeing these articles already.

  16. str1fe says:

    I like the idea of having this a weekly feature so I don’t see a shrink ray post every other hour. Once a week, post the top one, five, all, whatever products to be hit by the shrink ray. Those posts will be read by the ones who want to read them (it interests me plenty, but not -this- much) and those of us who don’t want to see these cluttering our rss feeds are happy too. Everyone wins!

  17. Thorgryn says:

    While I don’t mind the shrink ray posts at all, I also wouldn’t mind a weekly shrink ray run down, that in one big post goes through the results of the shrink ray’s work for a week.

    One problem with peanut butter is that if you buy the bigger containers and don’t eat from it constantly is that the oil can go rancid, the problem is that many people can’t detect via taste or smell that the oil has gone rancid at all.

  18. DashTheHand says:

    Is there a way a running chart of all the products that have been shrunk can be maintained? I can’t keep track of all the shrinks and try to avoid buying from those manufacturers that attempt to screw over their customers.

  19. bohemian says:

    @Juliekins: I almost bought some last week until I saw the palm oil on the label. Yuk. Technically natural but not good for you.

    I appreciate all the shrink ray posts since I buy all the groceries, I know what to avoid that way.

  20. Ubermunch says:

    @Weezy F Baby:

    Dude… Breathe in… Breathe out…. Go to your happy place…. Try not to click on links that enrage you. It’s not hard to scroll on by to other posts.

    And while *you* are personally outraged by the shrink ray posts, I like them and every now and then I actually jump into the article and read a bit of the comments. The issue here is the silent price increases that are being applied with dubious ethics. [ As a sidenote, I, for one, would like to know if these size reductions are being accurately reflected in the CPI figures] I also like to see what companies are playing this little game so I can vote with my wallet. Point is: just because *you* don’t find the post interesting does not mean that all Consumerist readers think in lock step. If you don’t like it… move along buddy.

    Finally… you lose me and probably many others when this becomes a “F*** You” level response to OPs/moderators. You look a little mentally unbalanced when you spew with that level of vitriol and it’s unnecessary. Bet you don’t communicate like that in person, do you?

  21. Asvetic says:

    @pbwingman: They have Skippy Natural in 4lb tubs? Where?! I’m always buying this stuff (love it, great in smoothies!) and I run out of it so fast.

  22. Gev says:

    @Weezy F Baby: Actually, you’re wrong.

    If you read back about 1.5-2 years ago you’d see that this blog was originally a site that had information on how to be a smarter consumer.

    It had tips, tricks, and quite a bit of insider information from different industries on how said industries work and how to work them to get better service or discounts. It also often gave insight as to why some companies have policies that at first glance don’t make a whole lot of sense.

    To use a rather bad analogy, it was like a gaming site with cheat codes and walkthroughs for games.

    It did it without that horrible, screechy sense of entitlement or the Fatwallet-like attitude of getting discounts merely for the sake of getting a discount. Also missing was the “corporations are eeeeeevil” sanctimony that a lot of other sites have.

    It was really a much better site.

  23. fredmertz says:

    I just wish we could get an update on if any Wal-Mart stores still have the nazi shirts in stock.

  24. Ben Popken says:

    @Weezy F Baby: Thoughts about how a post should or should not be written are best sent to the author. This be only the 2nd comment you’ve made on Consumerist hardly adds heft to your histrionics.
    @basket548: By popular demand, we’re trying to make comments more on topic. If you want to start open threads about whatever you like, do it in the forums: consumeristforums.com
    @Gev: How many times are you going to regurgitate the same attack on the site? At least show some creative writing skills.

    Many people like the GSR posts. If you don’t, don’t read them. Don’t ruin a solid discussion for those who do. There’s plenty other to read.

  25. courtarro says:

    @Ben Popken: How about a weekly feature that summarizes all the GSR posts at once? That way they wouldn’t be peppered in with all the other content; GSR fans would be able to get all their lovin’ at once, and non-fans could simply ignore that feature. In fact, given the recent abundance of GSR hits, you might even make it a daily feature, but I would say that aggregating and isolating these posts is important at this point, for the sake of all readers.

    Also, keep in mind that Weezy F’s posting frequency doesn’t necessarily reflect on his value as a reader. I visit the Consumerist several times a day as I’m perusing my blog links, but I comment quite rarely. I think I’m still a valuable reader. My two cents.

  26. Ben Popken says:

    @courtarro: It’s a worthwhile idea, I’ll consider it.

  27. basket548 says:

    @Ben Popken:

    Thanks for responding to our comments, Ben.

    However, I’d like to point out a couple things:

    1) Weezy was not referring to ‘how the article is written’, he was referring to how often these types of articles appear, which really is a site issue, not an author issue.

    2) How is my comment off topic? I wrote about the GSR in a GSR post. Should I mention how much I love peanut butter, or how I never noticed that products have shrunk? Because honestly, it’s all been said, several times in all the previous GSR posts.

    To those who say, well, it’s easy to skip it, that’s true. But at the same time, I do genuinely enjoy this site, and feel that if it becomes trite and stale it will push away some of the best contributors.

    And finally, @courtarro, is there an echo in here?

  28. cabinaero says:

    I think those might be different products. Click through to the original photo. The Skippy on the left has legal to the upper left of the product name, “SKIPPY is a trademark”. The Skippy on the right reads “SKIPPY and SUPERCHUNK are trademarks” and has a cross-sell (small picture of another product) of Skippy Natural on the back of the label.

    A look at the mfr.’s web site seems to confirm my suspicions. We’re looking at Skippy Natural Creamy on the left and Skippy Natural Super Chunk on the right (unshelled and shelled peanuts in the product shot, respectively).

  29. stacye says:

    @speedwell: Wow. That is an excellent point, and one that I don’t believe has been brought up in posts.

  30. Ubermunch says:

    @basket548:

    At the risk of sounding like a Consumerist cultie….

    “…I do genuinely enjoy this site, and feel that if it becomes trite and stale it will push away some of the best contributors.”

    Trite and stale?

    Care to show me where there had been any other decent coverage of the shrinking of common grocery items before Consumerist started the GSR posts? I still have yet to see this in Newsweek or the WaPost. In fact, I also think the *first* place I saw this was the Consumerist. This is not the hallmark of a stale site. I’ve been lurking here for months and have found it to be quite topical and lively… even with all the bellyachers.

    Far from being “trite and stale” I think the Consumerist was ahead of the curve on this grocery shrinking thing… as evidenced by the amount of attention the lagging mainstream media has now applied to this topic. Bottom line: I think your concerns are totally misplaced here. If you wish to tilt at “trite and stale” windmills perhaps you should look at Yahoo, CNN, MSNBC, etc.

  31. tom2133 says:

    @Ben Popken: I concur with the GSR articles being grouped in to a weekly (or maybe a once daily) feature. But do we have a separate article EVERY time that there someone notices a size decrease. Something like what Lifehacker does with HiveFive or maybe the Friday Flickr pool…

    We act like this is a new thing, but this really isn’t a new phenomenon. I remember watching news reports on this when I was 13 – over 15 years ago.

  32. cmdrsass says:

    @Ubermunch: “I think the Consumerist was ahead of the curve on this grocery shrinking thing”

    Not quite, I was reading about this sort of thing in the newspapers such as the WSJ about *15* years ago, and now and again since then. It’s the kind of topic that only gets attention in conjunction with stories about economic hardship where alleged journalists can string together trite phrases such as “in these tough economic times” and “where every dollar counts” and “families trying to make ends meet”, etc.

  33. basket548 says:

    @Ubermunch:

    If. One little word, but it means a lot.

    (And yes, mods, this comment is waaay off topic, so feel free to delete. And fellow commenters, I swear this is my last one in this post.)

    I’m not arguing the topic of the GSR, though I personally think that it was a non-story from the beginning. It’s the type of thing that the Consumerist should cover, and the site has done a great job. But it’s just beating a dead horse at this point, and GSR posts have largely become a forum on the frequency and relevancy of said posts. That’s why I proposed a once a week feature to keep it in readers’ minds, but not to overwhelm those who frequent the site.

  34. MyPetFly says:

    It’s beginning to seem that the Grocery Shrink Ray thing was just a lazy way of getting content online. I think the GSR may have hit The Consumerist. I hope I’m wrong.

  35. Ben Popken says:

    Part of the intent of GSR posts is a project to build a database of affected products. Thanks to the Consumerist readership, we have pretty much the largest list on hand of shrunken products.

  36. courtarro says:

    @basket548: Sorry for practically duplicating your idea. They do differ slightly: your post suggests one item weekly, but I say go post everything gathered during the last period.

    I still think we should bring attention to as many items as possible, with the goal being to eventually dissuade manufacturers from pulling this trick in the first place. *shrug*

  37. Angryrider says:

    Watched the Today Show and there was this bald guy yapping about saving money on groceries, including a topic about the Grocery Shrink Ray. Guy said that sometimes you get more value by buying the smaller containers instead of the bigger ones, if the value adds up or some crap.

    I’m wondering what made Skippy choose “16.3.” What the hell were they smoking. 15 is a good number, and should’ve been the regular size for years.

  38. mewyn dyner says:

    @Ben Popken:

    That’s actually a start for an interesting idea with this subject… an actual database that has the shrunken products, possibly also offering competitor alternatives and the like. Heck, if it got popular, it could reduce the effects of the ray. ;) I’m gonna play around with this idea in my head a bit to see how it could work.

  39. snoop-blog says:

    I’m no peanut butter Connoisseur, but I got to have strawberry jelly! I have no idea why but when I was a kid my mom never bought it. It was always Welch’s concord grape.

  40. onesong says:

    i buy the groceries, and i like the gsr posts a lot. i also like the idea of aggregating them and putting them up once a day–but please, not weekly. i shop sales that rotate (some go sun – sat, some thurs-weds, depending on the sales) and i actually note some of the GSR posts on my list so i make sure to keep an eye on the price per unit. i find it helpful and topical, and don’t want it to go away.

  41. AMetamorphosis says:

    Ben,

    How about starting a new site called:

    GROCERYSHINKRAY.com ?

    Could you just aggragate these into a once a week post or something? This is becoming tedious and frankly, intelligent consumers that pay attention to what they buy can figure this out. I don’t need to know every single product that changes its size or packaging.

  42. AMetamorphosis says:

    Note: I posted my suggestion before I went back and saw that a good dea of other readers agree.

    Honestly, how much intelligent on-topic discussion can one have about GSR every other post ?

  43. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    I’ve got a store near me with an on-demand peanut butter machine, that sells fresh peanut butter by the pound.

    I’ve got no reason to point this out except to mock those of you eating Skippy.

  44. Dervish says:

    @AMetamorphosis: Agreed. I think it’s good to call these changes out – as a few people have said, it gives them an easy way to choose who should get their hard-earned money. It seems like it would be very helpful to collect all these items into one daily/every-other-day post.

    But to me, the snarky tone taken with a lot of these articles is wearing thin. Commodity and fuel prices are astronomical, and a lot of the easy cost savings have been implemented already. This means that costs have finally reached a point where they need to be passed on to the customer. It’s not a one-dimensional case of “big corporation trying to screw the little guy.” It sucks that they choose to reduce size rather than increase cost outright, but all the information is still right there in front of the shopper if they’re willing to do a little simple arithmetic. Consumerist readers seem very much into personal responsibility, so why is this such an issue?

  45. snoop-blog says:

    Well I know what choosey moms won’t be choosing now…

    oh wait was that Jif’s slogan?…Nevermind.

  46. tworld says:

    Hey, check out the cereal aisle. The boxes keep getting SMALLER and the prices keep getting HIGHER. America the beautiful should be changed to America the mess.

  47. Juliekins says:

    Not to be a brown noser, but I like the GSR posts just as they are. I’m the main grocery buyer at my house and I find them incredibly helpful. Hell, my coworker (who I think I turned on to The Consumerist) actually showed me a photo he took of some Pizza Rolls that had been hit by the Grocery Shrink Ray. We both squeed at his find.

    If they got consolidated into a weekly or daily thing, I guess that would be okay. Just so they don’t go away. I love the Grocery Shrink Ray.

  48. sarabadara says:

    I recycled my old Tropicana Orange Juice jug before I could remember to take a picture, but they have shrunk as well. The old one was 96 ounces and the new is 89. That’s one less screwdriver, people. Sorry I don’t have the picture to back it up.

  49. u1itn0w2day says:

    @Dervish: I must disagree some what about this being a recent phenomenon.This has been going on for several years at this point.About 3-4 years ago I noticed bleach being reduced from 1 gallon to 96 oz in the same exact shape and labeled container except for size.

    I don’t think it’s just passing on cost but it’s as much about the competition siphoning away their business especially with supermarket generics.They don’t want to raise the price when they’re loosing market share so they reduce volume.

    I gonna have to check an annual report for one of these companies and see how profitable they are or aren’t.I’ll post my findings.

    AND KEEP ON POSTING THAT SHRINK RAY INFORMATION

  50. dianabanana says:

    I think gathering all the GSR and posting them once a day or once every couple of days is great. I’m really impartial to the whole GSR thing since they don’t bother me, and I don’t really pay that much attention to them, but it kind of striked me as the consumerist using those posts to fill their daily quota or whatnot. They’re like advertisements, I just scroll on by.

  51. mrearly2 says:

    It’s crap! Don’t buy it, regardless of cost!

  52. TheRedDuke says:

    Will someone PLEASE post a pic of the bottom of the damn jar? I want to see how they hid the volume loss.