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Yesterday’s ‘Large’ becomes today’s ‘Small’

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 Posted by Peter Janiszewski, PhD
Last week we received an interesting email from loyal reader Becky Mercer who brought our attention to a seemingly dishonest change that has occurred in portion sizing at the Wendy’s fast-food chain. Apparently, Wendy’s has made the health-conscious change to reduce their default size of fries and soft drinks which accompany a combo from the “Medium” to “Small”. Unfortunately, as Becky rightfully noticed, and what has been previously written about in the US, this change was only one of name and not actual portion size. Thus, rather than decreasing some of their ludicrous portion sizes of both fries and drinks, Wendy’s has instead opted to make the following semantic alterations:

Old ‘Medium’ = New ‘Small’
Old ‘Biggie’ = New ‘Medium’
Old ‘Great Biggie’ = New ‘Large’

This sort of stunt is reminiscent of some of the tactics employed by ‘Big Brother’ in George Orwell’s “1984”. Unfortunately, we today are just as vulnerable to these tactics as were the drones in Orwell’s dystopian fantasy: our reader, Becky was apparently commended on being ‘healthy’ by sticking with the default ‘small’ drink and fries with her meal, which really are the ‘medium’ drink and fries of yesterday. As Becky writes in her email, “apparently the word ‘small’ is enough to make people think that what they are consuming actually is small.” This, of course, despite the fact that a ‘small’ drink consists of 37 g of pure sugar while ‘small’ fries contains 340 kcals, half of which are derived from fat.

Now if you are feeling REALLY hungry and were previously ashamed to order a ‘Great Biggie’ drink and fries – fret no more! You can now get the combined 820 kcals of sugar and fat with your order of the less stigmatizing ‘large’ drink and fries.

Way to go Wendy’s!

While this is news to both us and Becky, apparently this change occurred in US Wendy’s locations over 2 years ago – the same may have happened in Canada. Thus, if this is old news to regular Wendy’s customers, I do apologize for being so behind the times.

On another sizing note, recent news from the UK suggests that many children’s clothing manufacturers are attempting to change the sizes of their clothes to accommodate the larger bodies of today’s youth. Apparently, today’s youth clothing sizes are designed based on the average proportions of children from 1990 and are usually sold by age ranges (i.e. 7-8 years). Given the drastic increase in the proportions of today’s kids, parents of 7-8 year olds have had to purchase clothing for 10-11 year olds to accommodate their children’s expanding waistlines.

In response, a number of clothing stores in the UK are performing a survey of 6000 boys and girls to get a better idea of what a typical 7 year-old of 2009 looks like in contrast to what he/she may have looked like 20 years ago.

So now you can eat an order of medium fries but not feel bad about it because it comes in a container labeled ‘small’ and soon enough morbidly obese kids will be able to fit into a ‘small’ pant size for their age.

The obesity epidemic is cured by an easy shift in perceptions as Orwell turns in his grave.

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2 Response to "Yesterday’s ‘Large’ becomes today’s ‘Small’"

  1. Darya Pino Said,

    Lovely. Thanks for calling them out :)

    Posted on February 18, 2009 at 4:55 PM

     
  2. Peter Janiszewski, PhD (Cand.), MSc Said,

    I almost feel bad doing so, as Wendy's was the only fast food chain that I could actually eat at without feeling like absolute garbage 15 mins later.

    Now that I know they are up to no good, I will have to abstain - can't be a hypocrite...

    Posted on February 18, 2009 at 8:13 PM

     

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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.

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