Price Points - In the Wrong Direction

Kenneth Lourie

Not that I need a pound bag of M&Ms to weigh 16 actual ounces (it's now down to 10.70 oz.) or a half gallon of ice cream to weigh 64 ounces (rather than the 48 oz. it currently is) or the "family" size bag of Utz potato chips to measure more than its current/meager/non-typical-family size of 9.5 ounces (down from 14 oz. that I remember), nevertheless I do need to feel the love, and right now I don't. I sort of understand price points and the business models ingrained to retain customer loyalty (price matters more than size, generally), but I am hard-pressed to ignore the fact that even though I'm spending the same amount of money as I always have, I'm not getting anywhere near the same amount of product as I always have.

Not that the few items I've listed here are staples (well, maybe not to you they aren't), or the necessary building blocks of a healthy diet, they are pieces to a puzzle which characterizes some of my eating habits - and probably some of yours, too. After all, we are all victims of advertising messages which bombard us 24-7, on television, on radio, in print and on devices. In a way, we're all sitting ducks targeted to quack accordingly because some entity/marketing strategist knows who we are, what we're doing and when we're doing it. It's not exactly "Big Brother," but it's a bit more than "Little Sister."

My brother, Richard, and I grew up in the 50s. We ate cookies, candy and snack cakes until the cows came home, and we didn't even live on a farm. Quite the opposite, we lived in suburbia, seven miles from Boston, according to the sign on Rte. 9. We ate dessert after breakfast, lunch and dinner and a few times in between: after school and before bedtime. Why? Because my mother had been non-stop advertised-to about the importance of calcium and the best way for children to get calcium was to drink eight glasses of milk per day to "build strong bones and healthy bodies." And the only way to get us boys to drink that much milk was to feed us something for which milk was a kind of elixir: cookies, cakes, snack cakes, etc. So we ate and drink to our hearts content, but more importantly, we ate and drank to the development of our bones and bodies. And so it continues to this day, sort of, mostly. As my sister-in-law, Vanessa, says and then laughs after listening to Richard and me talk about our dessert issues: "Boy, your mother did some job on you two."

I'm exaggerating, a bit, with respect to our current daily consumption. I mean, who could keep up that pace? Moreover, given certain age/weight/cancer realities (particularly concerning yours truly), it would be totally, extraordinarily irresponsible to continue to snack-cake and cookie our way through the day. Still, the urge to splurge seems to hard-wired into our brains and when the moment is right, it might not be Cialis that we always think of. (Do you remember the Seinfeld episode when George was determined to combine sex and eating and brought a sandwich to bed? For the record, the thought has never crossed my mind.)

I imagine as you've read this column you've developed a sense that given the Louries' longstanding - and sitting - commitment to such hedonistic pursuits, pennies, nickels, dimes or quarters on the dollar are unlikely to dissuade either one of us from our Santa-like appointed rounds. Still, we're not idiots. We're aware of the effects on our bodies if we devolve into the snack cake eating machines of our youth/adolescence. We're not getting any younger nor are we likely getting any thinner or healthier. I'd like to think we've gotten smarter and more respectful of what foods go in and by association what money goes out. But as difficult as it is to turn an ocean liner around after it's headed out to sea, so too is it difficult for yours truly to care less about what I've spent my entire life caring more about: dessert/sweets. However, I do anticipate a reaction to this most recent size reduction.

As my mother, Celia, used to say: "It's enough already."


"This column is my life as one of the fortunate few; a lung cancer anomaly: a stage IV lung cancer patient who has outlived his doctor’s original prognosis; and I’m glad to share it. It seems to help me cope writing about it. Perhaps it will help you relate reading about it."

Mr. Lourie’s columns can be found at www.kennywithcancer.com

Blog category: 
Living with lung cancer

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