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A lick-your-foil mentality?

April 5, 2012

According to Brian Wansink, larger package sizes contribute to us eating more than we think we are.  To demonstrate, he gave moviegoers either a medium or large popcorn.  Those given the large bucket ate more but reported eating the same amount as those given the medium bucket, suggesting that larger packages cause us to eat more without realizing it!  Wansink cites many possible reasons for this, one of which is a clean-your-plate mentality.

Does package size influence consumption at the FeelGood kiosk?  Our grilled cheese does not come in a package per se; but our bread can be seen as a package for cheese and other fix-ins.  Our bread varies in size quite a bit depending on the type and the portion of the loaf it came from.

Of the customers that stick around the kiosk to enjoy their sandwich, most of them finish, regardless of the size sandwich they received.  A clean-your-plate, or in this case lick-your-foil, mentality may be at work: eaters stop when their sandwich is gone rather than upon feeling full.

Some customers seem to be aware of the influence of package size.  Several customers have asked me for smaller bread.  Perhaps they are aware that by receiving a smaller “package,” they will likely consume less grilled cheese.  However, their true motivation could lie elsewhere: they may know that, if given a larger sandwich, they would be unable to finish it;  their request may come from a desire for less food waste rather than for cognitive control.

What does this mean for the health of our customers?  That depends on the customer!  For most, even our largest sandwiches are an appropriate portion for lunch.  And, if the sandwich is loaded with plenty of veggies and on whole wheat bread, it’s a nutritious one at that!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    April 16, 2012 4:45 pm

    How do you define “appropriate portion for lunch”? Is that definition consistent with nutritionists’ definitions or public understandings of portion sizes? Just wondering.

    • April 18, 2012 9:14 am

      My definition is however much leaves you ‘feeling good’ (pun intended), as in not overstuffed but not still hungry. I feel satistfied in that respect after eating a FeelGood sandwich and so I presume that others do as well! It’s probably not consistent with a nutritionist’s definition which I would presume is based on calories. As far as the public goes, I think it varies. Among my friends and acquaintances, some define a portion calorically, others in terms of the item’s size (i.e. half a sandwich, one sandwich, etc.), and others, like me, in terms of fullness.

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