This Pringles Super Stack Size Traps The Math Illiterate

The Super Stack can of Pringles on the right looks super big and super packed full of chips. It only has 12% more snack inside, though, while it costs 25% more of your money. Luckily, if you’re not handy with division or don’t have a calculator or phone with you, just look at the price per pound on the tags below. And never trust packaging!


(Thanks to Tom!)

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  1. MBEmom says:

    I have to say, there’s a reason that marketing like this exists…it works. People don’t pay enough attention and half the time they never even realize they are getting the shaft. Consumerist readers excluded, of course!

    • Batwaffel says:

      @MBEmom: That’s true. Most people try to get in and out of the market as fast as possible. I probably wouldn’t have noticed this myself, and I have started paying closer attention since I started lurking on Consumerist.

    • Benguin says:

      @MBEmom: I’m inclined to agree with you, but I could also imagine the situation where someone wants more than a single can of Pringles but not two whole cans.

      Granted that’s less likely that someone seeing a bigger can and automatically thinking “VALUE!” but it could still happen.

      • socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

        @Benguin:
        I see what youre getting at and that does make sense. But also working in retail electronics store, people want “whats best” and want you to tell them “whats best” and will just buy that.

        Whats best for you? honestly, whats better on your wallet. Whats best, well probably the newest thing. But the newest thing cost alot more than the older adequete thing, which is good for you. But you want whats best because you deserve it.

        Thats what I think. And no that wasn’t directed towards anyone in particular.

  2. cuchanu says:

    When will these assholes realize that for every person that falls for stuff like this there is another that notices, is offended and refuses to buy either one?

    • SabreDC says:

      @cuchanu: And then there is a third group who is smart enough to see it, doesn’t fall for it, isn’t offended by the company’s tactics, and still buys the better value… because it’s yummy.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      @cuchanu: I think the problem is that your numbers are off. More likely, for every 5 people who fall for this stuff, there’s one person who’d notice, and only every 2nd or 3rd person who notices would care enough to swear off a product they like because the manufacturer or retailer is trying to cheat them.

      • PencilSharp says:

        @GearheadGeek: Maybe true, but the math works more like: for every 5 people who fall for it, there’s one person who notices… who then posts to a blog where it’s read by a few hundred, one of whom posts to another blog, where it’s read by a few thousand, one of whom posts to Consumerist, where it’s read by several hundred thousand, one of whom posts it on Fark, where it’s read by every Morning Drive DJ in America… out loud on the air.
        Watch yourselves on this one, P&G.

  3. benko29 says:

    Super *Stack

    not so super anymore

  4. Ezra Ekman says:

    The price per weight information that most major grocery stores list now is one of the most consumer-friendly inventions I’ve ever seen. While it doesn’t always work (many on sale items don’t list the price per weight based on the sale price; only the original price), it’s by far the best way to shop.

    Of course, this ignores coupons and other discounts, but comparing price against weight will just about always tell you when you’re getting a better deal. Store doesn’t list it? No problem: bring a calculator (most cell phones have one built-in) to the store with you. Take the price of one comparison item and divide it by the weight (ounces, pounds, whatever), then multiply it by the weight of the other item. If that last result is higher than the price of the second item, the second item is cheaper per weight. If the result is lower, the first item is cheaper per weight.

    Fast, simple, easy, and it saves you money. :-)

    Unrelated: Hey Consumerist – what happened to the preview post checkbox? I kinda liked it.

  5. hills says:

    Pringles ‘Reduced Fat’ – by reducing the # of chips – what a novel idea!

  6. blazinrebel says:

    Honestly I wouldn’t be that offended if I noticed this, I would just buy the better value and not give it a second thought. In fact if I did notice this I’d probably feel accomplished that I didn’t fall into their trap. I’d say maybe for every 10 people, maybe 1 would be so upset about this not to buy any.

  7. shepd says:

    If only I had the balls to make “THIS ONE IS CHEAPER!” stickers to stick on the price tags of products like this… But I suppose it’s vandalism, even if they’re post-it-note like in the ability to remove them.

  8. rpm773 says:

    As the unit price is listed right beneath it, doing this makes so little sense that I almost think it’s a pricing mistake.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Actually, if you do the math on the listed values:

    4.96/5.125 = 97ish cents

    5.58/5.71 = 98ish cents

    this is per ounce

    You’re only paying an extra cent and ounce for the convenience of a larger carry package.

    After taking the ‘store markdown’ into account (4.96 -> 1.59 and 5.58 -> 1.99) you’re being charged a full three cents more per ounce for the larger package.

    If anything the fault is in the store pricing, not with Pringles’ advertising.

    -drew

  10. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    “Sometimes you gotta let those hard-to-reach chips go.”

    How many more Pringles can related accidents need to happen each year?! *tragic*

  11. Sarcastikate says:

    I always check the unit prices, but just love it when the same exact item is priced in different units of measure from brand to brand. For example, I’ve seen maple syrup priced by pound sitting right next to another brand priced by quart. How is this allowed?

  12. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Does Pringles have everything patented? I mean, why hasn’t anyone figured out how to replicate the chip shape (but obviously make it different) and put it in a tube?

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: There’s Lays owned Stax which is pretty much what you describe.

    • oilburner says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Pringles oog me out, I mean most potato chips are full of crap, but a potato chip that bears no resemblance to actual slices of potato just can’t be good for you. I saw on How It’s Made a factory that makes Pringle’s knockoffs, they start with potato flakes and make a slurry, then extrude a big sheet of goo that the chips are die cut from. Pringles are to potato chips what spam is to meat…

  13. Marshfield says:

    Interesting that one is 5 1/8 oz (fraction) and the other is 5.71 oz (decimals). I know most of the people in my home (eg = everyone but me) would have no idea which was more, or how much more.

    • oneandone says:

      @Marshfield: The fraction made me pause, too. But then I cheated and just looked at the metric units right next to it. If only we were entirely in metric, a lot of this would be much easier.

  14. Marshfield says:

    Unit pricing rocks but I dare you to use it in the grocery store in two places: the cheese section and toilet paper. Cheese is in dollars per pound, per ounce, per gram, and same types of cheese will have two different units side by side. It’s nuts.

    Toilet paper: single roll, double roll, single layer, double layer. It’s quite indecipherable.

    I want to know “how many wipes will I get from this package” and it’s very hard to calculate.

    • oneandone says:

      @Marshfield: Figuring out the toilet paper math gave me a headache during the last trip to costco. Especially since I was trying to compare it to store-brand prices I jotted down from the supermarket closer to home. It’s the layers – they mess everything up. And then when you have coupons or something’s on sale….. craziness.

  15. Ben_Q2 says:

    What are the prices on the left side? From the looks of it. The left side is what it cost, the right price is the sale price. I’m sure I’m wrong. I really hope so.

  16. mbz32190 says:

    @undefined: @pecan 3.14159265:

    Yuck I hope nobody else steals Pringle’s formula…am I the only one that think Pringles taste disgusting? Even the flavored ones, or original ones, all just take like chemically-laced Styrofoam.

    • Mr.DuckSauce says:

      @mbz32190: yeah, your right, I like the kettle chips myself now, it taste is full of flavor in the crunchy bites.

    • Christopher Wilson says:

      @mbz32190: I used to love pringles, but the last few times they’ve tasted disgusting to me, like they changed something or maybe my taste buds changed. They have this rancid taste.

  17. Chris Walters says:

    @ Ben_Q2: the price in the yellow box is marked “Price per pound” on each sticker.

  18. wjmorris3 says:

    The prices on the left, in the yellow backing, are the unit prices (and they look to be by pound, if my math is on.)

  19. Anonymous says:

    Some of you may not realize this, but those are 2 DIFFERENT products. Smart Flavors & Reduce Fat are 2 different lines of Pringles. The Smart Flavors are in between Regular & Reduced in fat content. The Reduced Fat (use to be called Light) has always been more expensive. The Smart Flavors line is much newer, tastier too!

    • Anonymous says:

      The two products compared above are not different products. They are exactly the same. There are regular, reduced fat, and fat free Pringles. Smart Flavors are part of the reduced fat line. Reduced Fat Pringles are not more expensive. They have the same price structure as the regular Pringles line. The fat free Pringles line is the one that is more expensive than the other two.

  20. faust1200 says:

    “I think Pringles’ initial intention was to make tennis balls. But on the day that the rubber was supposed to show up, a big truckload of potatoes arrived. But Pringles was a laid-back company. They said “Fuck it. Cut ‘em up.” -Mitch Hedberg

  21. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    mbz32190: I meant, why isn’t there a storebrand version? I mean, it’s chips in a tube. Seriously.

    • catnapped says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Lays or Ruffles has something similar in a tall plastic container, but I’m wondering if Pringles has a trademark or something on the “potato chips in a sorta-metal can” concept

  22. Andi Lee says:

    Those are some expensive Pringles… I almost grabbed a can of those the other day, but they didn’t have the flavore I wanted in the huge size and that’s how I noticed the difference. I know for a while they had the larger can like that for the price of a normal can of Pringles, but they disappeared so quickly I only saw them on maybe 2 trips to the store.

  23. Marshfield says:

    There must be a huge markup on pringles ‘cuz I see them at the dollar store all the time for a buck for a tall can. And not close to expiration date either.

    • catnapped says:

      @Marshfield: Not for long. There’s still a section at Family Dollar for a buck, but the newer “Super Stack” supply is $1.50. That 25% increase in price referenced is a bargain…seems like the price shot up close to 50% locally

  24. u1itn0w2day says:

    MBEmom nailed it . This stuff works .

    The same colors and can shape are not there by accident . Who said subliminal marketing left with the 1 second shots of salty popcorn and cups of soda .

  25. jameleon says:

    They cost 50% more at Walmart. 1.00 for a regular can vs. 1.50 for the Super Stack. Silly marketing.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Last time I went shopping at my favorite grocer (the Commissary), I noticed that the 32oz jar of Apple Jelly was $1.19 and the 18oz jar was $1.50. I’ve actually seen this happen with Bisquick (TM? R?) – where the larger box was double-digit cents less than the smaller box. The store has a policy of only marking up a specific percentage and there’s no tax. I did a statistics project where I compared the prices at this store to another and noticed for the first time that the other store would just round up to the nearest “nice” number. Specifically, I saw this with Arm & Hammer (TM? R?) baking soda: Commissary: A&H Pure Baking Soda 1 lb box: $0.39 Other Grocer: A&H Pure Baking Soda 1lb box: $1.49. The weird part for me was that there was a difference in price between the regular 1lb A&H pure baking soda and the fridge and freezer box at the Commissary: regular $0.39, f&f: $0.59 (my guess is due to the additional packaging). The other store rounded both up to $1.49.

  27. doodaddy says:

    “math illiterate” equals innumerate.

    Cool word of the day.

  28. nybiker says:

    @Marshfield: The TP problem you mention is annoying. That’s why Scott’s is allowed to continue to scream “1,000 Sheets” on their wrapping. But there is no ISO standard that says a sheet must be 4.5 inches x 4.0 inchess (the size before the sheet shrink ray hit them and caused the size to, well, shrink, to 4.5 x 3.7).

    And FTR, reply didn’t work and preview still not back.

  29. nybiker says:

    With regards to the chips, I believe another reason for the higher unit price for the larger can is that it’s the ‘reduced fat’ version. Somehow taking stuff out makes it more expensive. I know, they have to put other stuff in so the taste (regardless of what it tastes like) is ok. But the higher unit price for reduced fat items or different flavors of some things always seem to appear on smaller boxes/bags. Of course, us consumerist readers would see it and act accordingly (buy it, buy it but dislike the sneaky method of pricing it, not buy it because of the sneaky pricing method).

    • catnapped says:

      @nybiker: The company is replacing all of the flavors (not just the fat-free/reduced fat) with the “Super Stack” cans. Get a little more, pay a lot more. I guess they might’ve figured people caught onto the shrink ray trick and the straight “raise the price” trick on the same size container, so they’ve added a third deception to the mix.

      I still say there’s going to be a catch to those larger sized bags (“at the same price”) of Doritos that were referenced here a while back.

    • Cybrczch says:

      @nybiker: The Pringles regular and ‘reduced fat’ versions have always been marked at the same price at stores I’ve shopped at (barring sales on selected varieties), the “Fat Free” using the patented skid mark oil substitute were more expensive. I saw this at my local store with the regular cheddar cheese flavor – original packaging was $1.09, new package $1.58. And I didn’t buy either one.

  30. Michael Monaco says:

    Always check the unit price. Always.

  31. durkzilla says:

    So sad that the “Super Stack” is still SMALLER than the old regular container size of 6 ounces.

    Grocery shrink ray psychology at its finest, if you ask me.

  32. catnapped says:

    There’s another devious trick I saw today…some stores are getting rid of their stocks of loose (mix/match) Jelly Belly jelly beans and replacing them with 3.5 oz bags of individual flavors. Where the loose ones were around $5-6/pound, they’re now over $8/pound in the bags. Aside from sticking you with the higher price per pound, you’re committed to spending a minimum amount on a flavor you might end up hating and chucking in the trash.

  33. plutonyum says:

    The tags often seem to intentionally obscure comparisons sometimes. Anyone try comparing two similar and adjacent items at Costco? One’ll be $/lb and the other will be in $/oz.

    If their selection was greater they’d have items listed as pounds sterling per stone.

  34. oneandone says:

    I always get frustrated when the sale price doesn’t have the price per oz – the Giant near me doesn’t include that. Other than that & one other pricing thing they do, I love the store, but I wish they would calculate the price per oz on their special ‘sale!’ tags.

    The other annoying thing is the silly “3 for $5!” type of signs. They apply the sale price if you just get 1 or 2 of them, but it makes the comparisons much more difficult. Especially when they use weird numbers. 4 for $11! Come on. That’s just mean.

    I think both these price advertising things end up annoying a lot of customers, and what should have been a 5 minute trip to the store to pick up sour cream and contact lens solution ends up taking FOREVER because I can’t figure out what’s the best deal.

  35. sjmoreau says:

    Who would pay $4.96 or $5.58 for Pringles anyway???? I thought they were like $1.50 a canister.