Round Saltines Disguise Stealth Shrink Ray

As we reported on Friday, in parts of the Northeast, Nabisco’s traditional Premium brand saltine crackers have abruptly disappeared from the shelves. Unless they want to switch to one of the several other brands of saltines, their only choices are mini crackers or the new round ones. The change also disguises a stealth Grocery Shrink Ray that reduces the total mass of crackers in a box.

Dave of the blog Dave’s Cupboard noticed the phenomenon, and price-checked the new crackers against the old ones. Same price for five and a half fewer ounces of crackers.

Dave points out the biggest insult to consumers’ intelligence in all of this: the boxes say “Original.”

I live in what is now round saltine country, and can confirm that the smaller boxes of round crackers are being sold at the same price point that the larger boxes of square crackers had been at Price Chopper and Super Walmart. I was delighted to snap up the last box of square crackers at my neighborhood grocery store, because my life really is that sad.

Nabisco’s Premium Saltines Go Round and Round [Dave’s Cupboard]

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  1. voogru says:

    Hey all you kids out there, THIS is what inflation looks like!

    If this was really just to ‘increase profits’, they would have done it years and years ago.

    • MutantMonkey says:

      Yeah, it certainly couldn’t, in part, be due to the expansion of other countries’ wealths leading to a tighter squeeze on commodity items.

    • Nollaig says:

      This a perfect example of business grads playing with the margins. How could anyone have thought that it was a good idea to redesign such an iconic product? Think Coca Cola.
      This is how I imagine it came about.
      Hot shot exec figures he can gain brownie points. Proposes repackaging saltines in such a way that there is less product at the same price. Nothing original here as they’ve been using this strategy for years. But he adds a twist. Saltines traditionally come in four individual packets. This meant that the chance of spoiling was reduced by four. So hot shot figures that by getting rid of sectional packaging he can increase the rate at which the entire package spoils thus increasing turnover. Wow, he not only increases margin per unit but increases overall sales due to spoilage. But he takes it one step further. Let’s formulate the recipe such that it saves even more money in production. Never mind that the taste and texture change – the consumer is so stupid that he/she won’t notice. Such is the arrogance of the business grad!
      Thankfully for us stupid consumers, there are other options. Let’s just hope that the store brands are smart enough to see the folly of hot shot’s ambitions.

  2. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    I’m offended by the use of the term ‘cracker’. Why does Nabisco get to be so racist and get away with it?

    I demand hundreds of millions of dollars to ease my mental anguish.

    • Snape says:

      and why is white bread always cheaper than the other types of bread? Are they trying to teach our kids that if you are white you are inferior? I demand justice.

  3. keith4298 says:

    They tried to square the circle in ancient Greece and it didn’t work well then either.

  4. consumed says:

    Yeah, this really is deceptive, there is nothing Original about these crackers because they are a different product. They should take off the word Original from the box and use the word “Round” or something.

    • elangomatt says:

      Well, the pictures on the box show round crackers so I don’t think it is ALL that deceptive, but they should at least put a “new fun round shape!” somewhere on the front

  5. phrekyos says:

    Same thing with those aerated candy bars, I imagine.

    • T-Bone says:

      I saw th commercial fo those and the first thing I thought was,”I bet they charge extra for those and all they are doing is giving you even less chocolate!”

  6. cmdr.sass says:

    The original square crackers: my kids loved them. A little peanut butter and it makes a fun snack.

    The new *round* crackers? They won’t even touch them. They want the original square crackers.

    Thanks Nabisco!

    • Snape says:

      I will pre-eat them into squares for you for a nominal fee :D

    • UberGeek says:

      I won’t buy the round ones either. When I want a saltine, I’m looking for a square cracker (sorry Torgonius, you’re not my type). Yeah, the flavor might be the same, but it messes up my chili cracker measuring “system” and doesn’t fit my cheese slices.

      If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Just raise the price and be done with it. It’s called “Premium” for a reason, right?

  7. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I hate Premium saltines. I like Zesta or the ALDI kind. They’re still square anyway!

    • Laura Northrup says:

      The other brands have never tasted right to me. Maybe enough of my taste buds have died off now that I won’t know the difference.

  8. ThinkingBrian says:

    I buy saltine crackers every now and then and when I went to buy some yesterday at Walmart, I too noticed that there were only small round ones. So I had to buy the Walmart brand saltine crackers which I wouldn’t normally buy. I know that saltine crackers aren’t much, but I prefer the normal saltine crackers over these little round things especially for the same price tag. Bring back my saltine crackers please.

  9. raleel says:

    last box i bought was not too long ago, and they were actually different. instead of 4 length wise wrapped packages, they had 8(?) width wise wrapped packages of crackers. It was odd, and I suspect there was a shrink ray involved.

  10. winstonthorne says:

    The savvy shopper will buy generic saltines anyway.

    • elangomatt says:

      Yup, saltines are always more expensive and I can’t really tell any difference between the Kroger brand and the real saltines. Never done a side by side taste test, but I can’t remember the last time I bought name brand crackers.

  11. JJFIII says:

    Really? This is important how? In fact since most people eat crackers by the EACH, not the ounce, maybe it will have the unintended consequence of making some Americans slimmer. There are plenty of square and round crackers in the world. As long as the taste is the same, this is whiners looking for something to complain about.

    • Cat says:

      Really? You really don’t get it? Amazing.

    • BigHeadEd says:

      Friend, my idea of serving size is “sleeve”. “Each” never enters my food equation, and yes, I am overweight so feel free to slap me about for that, but I love a sleeve of saltines and a tall glass of milk.

  12. Cat says:

    Note to Nabisco:

    Your sales will collapse, as consumers switch to one of the many other brands of “saltines” that are both square and cost less.

    There is nothing special about your crackers.

  13. redskull says:

    Coming up next– Round saltines with a hole in the middle.

  14. tz says:

    Talk about cutting corners…

  15. Jawaka says:

    I love it when there things are exposed but love it more when someone brings the fact that “we know what’s you’re doing” to the manufacturer. I’m eagerly waiting for Nabisco’s response and excuse.

    • HomerSimpson says:

      “Our marketing studies have shown people prefer the smaller sized crackers and smaller sized box”

      Watch!

  16. Rick Sphinx says:

    Nabisco Sucks. I’m sure the founders are proud of them now. They are so dishonest, I don’t know how they can sleep at night. If you need to raise the price, be a man about it, and raise the price. Many people buy these products because of the taste, no other will do. Frito-Lay, same thing, the large bags are not not much bigger than the Big-Grab bag that used to be at the checkout line. So now I just don’t buy anything, neithor Frito-Lay or a competetor. I want lays, but I’m not paying the same price for such a small bag. Put the product back the way it was, put a correct price on it, and call it day. Stop this nonsense.
    Nabisco has been doing this so much. HoneyMaid Graham crackers, box same size when they reduced thy quantity of crackers, then they made them narrower, box same size on the outside, lots more air inside. Now I just don’t eat Graham Crackers.
    I love how Hershey’s makes it sound great to buy new “Air Delights”, yea! More Air, less chocolate, higher price, I’m so happy getting ripped off. Get real! I used to go to Walgreens to get my Heshey’s “1/2 Pounder” bar, now it is smaller and called “Big Bar” or something. Again, now I rarely buy them. Change my food, I find something else to eat.

  17. BigHeadEd says:

    One thought about their motivation: The old square crackers in sleeves are packaged by count because that’s how the machinery loads the wrappers. Now in order to meet the label-stated-weight, I’m guessing they had to run a wee bit on the heavy side to meet the Maximum Allowable Variance standards. By switching to a pure weight (single bag of loose crackers) they can use statistical scales and get really tight controls and reduce overweights. Of course, it would be nice if they didn’t add a price increase as well.

  18. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    I just checked in my local (Vermont) Hannaford’s:

    The new round Nabisco saltines are $2.79 for 10.5 oz or $4.06/lb. Unsalted or fat-free are a little pricier (they all used to be the same price).

    The Hannaford’s house brand (which also say “Original” on the box) are $1.79/lb. And they are square and available salted, unsalted, or fat-free for the same price.

    The only difference I can detect is the Hannaford’s house brand saltines are a little more fragile than Nabisco – otherwise they taste the same.

  19. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    One thing I love about boxes of square saltines is that you can open a single sleeve at a time and consume those, the rest in the box remain unopened and therefore do not go stale. Has anyone bought these – I have a question – do they come in individual sleeves like before or are they just a jumble of crackers (that probably break apart easier) like a box of Ritz? If so, Nabisco is also banking on the fact they’ll probably go stale before you finish eating the whole box and have to buy another.

    • flychinook says:

      Huh? Unless they’ve recently changed things, Ritz has always had “sleeves” of crackers within the box.

      • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

        Not here in Canada. The box is lined with wax paper and then filled with a jumble of crackers.

  20. Daverson says:

    Thanks for the link, Laura.