Kane County Chronicle

Shrinkflation: The slow loss of what we love – and sometimes need

Everyone’s heard it. “Shrinkflation.” Companies put less product into a container and then charge the same price, or put the same amount into a container appearing larger and charge more.

“Less chips, more air in the bag. Frito-Lay has confirmed that bags of Doritos are now smaller. The publication Quartz estimates the change, down to 9.25 ounces in a bag from 9.75 ounces, is about the equivalent of five fewer chips” (savannahnow.com/opinion).

Chips are one thing. Toilet paper is another.

“Procter & Gamble’s Charmin’s ultra soft toilet paper 18-count mega package now contains 244 two-ply sheets, down from a previous 264 double-ply sheets per roll” (savannahnow.com/opinion).

Huh? You’re telling me I have to do the change-out-empty-roll maneuver sooner and pay for the extra exercise?

Now for the finale: “Coca-Cola had increased its efforts over the past years … in marketing a smaller 7.5-ounce can of Coke. ... As reported by Fox News, the smaller cans sell for more per ounce than larger cans” (savannahnow.com/opinion).

Given the cagey way companies are increasing revenue flow, I got to thinking how this deception may be creeping into other parts of our culture.

In schools, students are fed less truth and fewer books.

Less truth because teachers are afraid of being reprimanded or fired if they cause a student anxiety when confronted with facts about the horrors of slavery or the suffering imposed on Native Americans.

Fewer books because parents and parent organizations crusade for banning books not just for their children, but other people’s children. Demanding libraries expunge books from a public library or school is tantamount to entering my house and taking a book to burn. One banned list includes “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut [and] Khaled Hosseini’s acclaimed novel The Kite Runner” (newsweek.com, Nov. 3, 2023).

If our youngsters grow up not envisioning – much less not confronting – the horrors of slavery and the cruelties of war, what are they left with? Cartoonish first-person shooters racing through back streets of video games played at night with invisible people on other continents.

Secondly, take nature (no pun intended, but it IS being taken). In Geneva, trees have been felled to allow for a third train track. After cutting down much-needed shade, natural air filters and pleasing tableaux, more roaring locomotives hauling clanking freight cars will replace those gorgeous, healthy, green giants with toxic exhaust, caustic noise and more R/R crossing delays.

I’ll end on a positive note. A more, not a less.

For my birthday last week, I cashed in on Fresh Market’s complimentary slice of cake (vanilla), adding it to my cart among milk, oranges and a pumpernickel loaf. At the register, when the checker spotted the ribbon-tied plastic box, her face lit up like finding a gold bar with her name engraved on it.

“It’s your birthday!” she exploded. “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday …”

Yes, dear reader, she was singing. To me. So sweet – but I wanted to crawl in a hole. Especially when a customer, looking like he just climbed out of a sleeping bag wearing three-day-old coal mining clothes, set down one item and waited to check out.

And I’m being sung to.

Then my card futzed up and Taylor Swift couldn’t override the card’s recalcitrance.

“Try the next line,” Taylor told the miner, who, unsmiling, left us to enjoy the sweet melody of “Happy birthday, dear Rrriiiii-iiiiick …”

Although mortified, I appreciate what Miss Swift did – more than required – for free! No charge for the serenade!

We need more people to help grow, not shrink, our lives.

• Rick Holinger has taught English and creative writing on several academic levels. His writing appears in Chicago Quarterly Review, Chautauqua, The Southern Review and elsewhere. His books of poetry, “North of Crivitz,” and essays, “Kangaroo Rabbits and Galvanized Fences,” are available at local bookstores, Amazon or richardholinger.net. Contact him at editorial@kcchronicle.com.