Lunchables Fall Victim To The Grocery Shrink Ray

Consumerist reader Mike has been noshing on Oscar Mayer Lunchables — you know, the pre-packed meat/cheese/cracker things — for years. To him, they were a dependable way to have a quick and cheap bite to eat for lunch in the office. That is, until they felt the ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZAAAPPPP! of the patented Grocery Shrink Ray.

“A few weeks ago I opened one of my Lunchables to find that the turkey and cheese slices were noticeably smaller, in some cases almost half size,” he writes. “Knowing right away from reading your articles about the grocery shrink ray, I went home to check out the rest of what was in my fridge hoping to find a before and after comparison. Sure enough, I found a Lunchable before Shrink Ray, and one after.”

Below is the stacked up comparison of the two Lunchables and below is confirmation that Oscar Mayer has indeed been slimming down the size of the packs, from 4.4oz to 3.4 oz.
lunchable1.png

Yet another lunchtime favorite has fallen victim to the Shrink Ray…

Comments

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  1. dolemite says:

    Soon, we’ll all just get an empty package for the same price.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      first they have to phase through the “aroma of ham and cheese, sealed in a single use container” before we get to completely empty. also, it will be a diet food and cost more

      • EarthAngel says:

        Then they can label it “gluten free”.

        • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

          I sure hope they keep “made in a facility that also processes tree nuts”

  2. Thresher says:

    Not much of a lunch anymore. More of a Snackable.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      They never were much of a lunch. I remember wanting these so badly when I was a kid, and when Mom finally bought a few for me, they were entirely unsatisfying–after eating my five crackers and five slices of cheese and ham, I’d be just as hungry as before. :/

      • dolemite says:

        My wife bought me one the other day. It was 5 tiny chicken nuggets with some BBQ powder and a tiny pudding cup. I would value the amount of food I got at $1.25.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        Same here. Wasn’t even good ham, I remember thinking my friends were idiots for eating them everyday.

  3. dognose says:

    Seriously, who eats this crap?

    • valthun says:

      Mike does.

    • eccsame says:

      Yeah. What kind of idiot eats cheese! And crackers!
      effing moron!

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        More like processed cheese food and meat-like substance. These things are particularly high in sodium and not what we would consider a healthy snack (fruit, vegetable, or fresh cheese). From http://www.kraftbrands.com/lunchables/ourproducts/default.aspx?navID=lunchables-with-juice&productID=ham-and-cheddar-cracker-stackers-juice&product=4470036117

        COOKED HAM–WATER ADDED–CHOPPED AND FORMED–SMOKE FLAVOR ADDED: HAM, WATER, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF SODIUM LACTATE, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, MODIFIED CORNSTARCH, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, SUGAR, SALT, SODIUM DIACETATE, SODIUM ASCORBATE, FLAVOR, SODIUM NITRITE, SMOKE FLAVOR.
        REDUCED FAT PASTEURIZED PROCESS CHEDDAR CHEESE: PART-SKIM MILK, SKIM MILK, MILKFAT, SODIUM CITRATE, SALT, CHEESE CULTURE, SORBIC ACID AS A PRESERVATIVE, LACTIC ACID, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, ENZYMES, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, APOCAROTENAL (COLOR), WITH STARCH ADDED FOR SLICE SEPARATION. CONTAINS: MILK.
        CRACKERS: UNBLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT FLOUR, SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, SALT, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA AND/OR CALCIUM PHOSPHATE), WHEY (FROM MILK), SOY LECITHIN, NATURAL FLAVOR. CONTAINS: WHEAT, MILK, SOY.

        Calories 320 Calories from Fat 80
        % Daily Value*
        Total Fat 8g 12 % Saturated Fat 3.5g 18 % Trans Fat 0g 0 % Cholesterol 25mg 8 % Sodium 680mg 28 % Total Carbohydrate 49g 16 % Dietary Fiber 2g 8 % Sugars 30g Protein 13g
        Vitamin A 15 %
        Vitamin C 0 %
        Calcium 25 %
        Iron 8 %

        • eccsame says:

          Yes yes, we all know that the guy should be making his own Lunchables at home. With artisan Ham and French cave-aged cheddar.

          • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

            Or maybe just without the partially hydrogenated oils and added sodium.

          • who? says:

            Or he could make his own lunch with the same processed crap as the lunchable has, but much cheaper.

            An artisinal cheese and foie gras homemade lunch would be about the same price as a lunchable, and taste a lot better.

            • jesusofcool says:

              Seriously, is it that hard to buy a package of deli meat, a package of deli cheese, some ritz crackers, and some oreos. Cheaper and in the case of the meat and cheese, slightly less processed than this crap.

        • Sunrisecarole says:

          Pink slime?

        • 99 1/2 Days says:

          Thanks, Mom.

      • Charmander says:

        I love real cheese and crackers.

        I would never eat this shit.

    • TacoDave says:

      What kind of idiot doesn’t eat exactly what Dognose eats?!

      People with opinions suck!

    • JennQPublic says:

      Kids whose parents don’t prioritize healthy food. :-/

    • zibby says:

      Stoners.

    • costanza007 says:

      I do. For convenience. Commence the smack-down from all of your high horses….. now!

    • zandar says:

      Children- at least that is for whom the marketing magic works the best. I am constantly begged to get them. Maybe they figured kids wouldn’t notice.

  4. castlecraver says:

    Clearly this is “for his convenience.” More portable package and smaller, easier-to-eat stacks. You’re welcome OP!

  5. oygovalt says:

    Less crap for your kids to ingest. I’m all for it.

  6. highfructosepornsyrup says:

    No doubt, this is all in the name of “serving us better”…

    • crispyduck13 says:

      “For your enjoyment and lunch satisfaction here is a convenient 1oz lighter product!”

  7. CrazyEyed says:

    I would have been totally oblivious to this change, however I don’t eat lunchables. Makes you think though. I should start checking the Net Weight more often.

  8. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:
  9. BradC says:

    This is one that I don’t think is so bad. Packages like this are going to be eaten all at once. Since (in the US at least) we’re getting too fat, this is probably for the best.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      You’re not getting fat eating 3.4 oz of food for lunch.

    • dolemite says:

      I’d agree…if the price dropped 25%.

      • Jillia says:

        I think the Grocery Shrink Ray concept is lost on you folks.

        1. Shrink product so it is hardly noticable
        2. Still charge the same price
        3. ????
        4. PROFIT!

    • d3vpsaux says:

      True, but it is more likely that the price has not been reduced accordingly. It would be a best practice if companies reduced the sale price of an item by a percentage comparable to the reduction of the product size.

  10. galm666 says:

    The bloody packaging probably weighs more than the food, and that was prior to the shrink ray.

  11. donjumpsuit says:

    Although inexcusable for sure, I wonder if it was shrunk to reduce the calories. I read something a while ago that everyone was trying to get snacks under 300 calories.

    • donjumpsuit says:

      I just looked it up. It went from 410 calories, to 340. So the calorie bar must be set at 350.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        nah, they are changing them gradually. next iteration will be under 3oz, but you’ll be used to 3/4 oz by then and not notice

  12. Jules Noctambule says:

    I’m a little surprised there’s no touting of ‘Lower fat!’, ‘Fewer calories!’ or ‘Greener packaging!’ anywhere on the product to make the reduced size seem like a positive selling point.

  13. truthandjustice says:

    Also notice the second ingredient — “water added”. Yet another sneaky to bulk of the weight while cutting down on real product.

    We bought Oscar Mayer packaged ham (sure they’re all doing it); and drained off the water — which amounted to 39% of the printed weight on the package. Hence . . . product was only 61% by weight the labeled weight. OUCH !!!!!

  14. Kavatar says:

    I’m surprised they don’t also say “Now 25% less calories!”

  15. km9v says:

    Is nothing sacred?

  16. PLATTWORX says:

    ” To him, they were a dependable way to have a quick and cheap bite to eat for lunch in the office.”

    I have never found Lunchables cheap, just VERY profitable “food” that is awful for you and makes big money for Oscar Mayer. The markup in insane, the quality is poor and I wouldn’t dream of feeding garbage like that to a child.

    I feel for the OP… I think companies should have to announce (via press release, etc) when they are reducing the size of a product and why. Full disclosure. Consumers shouldn’t have to notice on their own something looks smaller and then compare to an old package if they happen to be lucky enough to have one.

  17. AttackCat says:

    I’ve noticed the boxes have been getting smaller. I only buy them when they’re on sale for $1 each, though, (and they’re emergency lunches for my toddler) so it’s not that big of a deal.

  18. fredbiscotti says:

    I make my own lunches at home.

  19. c_c says:

    Anytime a grown man starts a sentence with

    “A few weeks ago I opened one of my Lunchables”

    you are free to blame the OP.

  20. Ben says:

    They’re doing you a favor. Lunchables are vile.

  21. VashTS says:

    Sad, to see. Why did they do it? Pretty sad that the package is probably the same weight as the contents now. Couldn’t they just shrink the packaging and not the actual food?

    I am not a fan, but the kids, just want it, especially as a snack on school trips.

  22. joako says:

    Ham contains sodium nitrate, a cancer causing substance. They are just trying to protect your health by providing you less sodium nitrate.

  23. voogru says:

    They’re trying to avoid raising the price too much, this is inflation.

    If it was about ‘profits’, they would have done this years ago.

  24. eezy-peezy says:

    Anyone who considers Lunchables to be A) Food and B) not a rip-off, is an idiot.

  25. BlueHighlighterNextToACoozie says:

    Also not that in the new 3.4oz pack they give you a Double Stuff Oreo, old package does not claim double stuff. .4oz taken from the meat and added in the extra oreo creme. Them devilsh prunes!

  26. maxamus2 says:

    I’m still waiting for these companies to start advertising that they are helping to fight obesity by offering these smaller packages……

  27. semidazed says:

    From a legal standpoint, wouldn’t they need to have new packaging photographs since the hero is no longer representative of what’s in the product?

    • iesika says:

      Most food packaging doesn’t actually represent what’s in the box. Have a look at any frozen meal you like and that becomes pretty obvious. The food pictures in advertisements don’t actually have to be what you’re selling in the store, either (fast food is most famous for this – plastic cheese and lettuce, painted-on grill stripes, etc).

  28. GrimJack says:

    Jeez, take warning all potential OPs: No matter how relevant to the Consumerist your submission may be (ie. the grocery shrink ray, in this case), prepare for the peanut gallery to rip your personal taste, intelligence, parenting skills, etc, etc. just because they don’t use the product being discussed.

    Why bother to submit at all when this is what you get (even when your issue is a valid one).

  29. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I hate the whole idea of the grocery shrink ray. Just jack up the price already! It’s so frustrating trying to figure out how much of something to use in a recipe, especially spaghetti sauce. A jar of spaghetti sauce used to be 32 oz. Now you’re lucky if you get 24 oz, which sure throws a monkey wrench in the works when you have a recipe that calls for 2 jars of spaghetti sauce. Same with canned food sizes, raisins, and all sorts of things.

    I just picked up a box of Wheat Chex over the weekend, and it’s only 14 oz now, and still almost $4 a box. Ugh.

  30. Exclave says:

    Didn’t notice the weight difference, but I had one the other day and noticed the thinner than average cheese and meat. Crossed my fingers and dug in hoping that it was just an off package… then I hit the dimple at the bottom of the cheese and meat sections that is hidden away by the large label on the bottom and pushes the cheese and meat up to look like there is the same ammount.

  31. Outrun1986 says:

    This won’t make kids any thinner, since they will just get hungry sooner after eating the smaller portion of food, thus they will just end up eating another snack since the lunchable no longer satisfies. I have never eaten one of these though.

  32. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    I wonder – just WHO decides how much a single “portion/serving” of a product should be? If somebody is buying something as a lunch/snack, and has been buying it for a while with the expectation that it has a certain amount of product, what kind of message is a company sending when it starts giving you less? Is it supposed to mean “you should eat less of this so we’re giving you less” ? Should it mean “We want you to have to buy two of them to get the same amount of product”, or is it simply a case of them trying to trick us into buying something and paying more, knowing that the amount they give us isn’t sufficient? I remember when a bag of chips was a FULL bag of chips (I’m thinking the small single serving ones) now you’re lucky if there’s 1/3 of a bag.

    Like others have said – just raise the price already if you’re going to be greedy – its getting to the point now where you need to use a scale to do any baking/cooking because those cookies that call for “one bag of chocolate chips” means you have to buy two to get the same amount.

  33. LanMan04 says:

    Damn, that’s a 22% shrink!

  34. Skeptic says:

    It appears Oscar Meyer did Mike’s cholesterol, BP, BMI, and risk of death a favor . . .

  35. PencilSharp says:

    Late to the party (as usual), so aside from the usual “Lunchables are teh crap” and “Blame the OP!” posts, I noticed something else about the package (beyond the net weight). Compare the outer wrappers. Isn’t it funny that the old unzapped packages are printed with much closer cropping to the print than the new zapped packs? Let me retry that: There’s more space between the print and the border of the shrunk packs than the old packaging had. Now, maybe it was just a change in register, maybe it’s just the angle of the picture.
    Or maybe, just maybe, Kraft is trying to pull a psychological fast one, making the new packaging appear to be larger than the older ones.
    Maybe.

  36. mariospants says:

    At first, I thought that a disclaimer or package redesign should have been in order (otherwise, this is basically a consumer scam), except that I noticed that although the packages are identical except for the weight, the photo of the product more closely matches the “after” image. They *may* have updated the photo in advance of the use of the Shrink Rayâ„¢… does anyone have any photos of the packaging let’s say circa 2010?