Another Shrinking Product:
“Carnac The Magnificent” was that all-seeing, all-knowing clairvoyant character played by Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. Carnac was able to devine the answers to questions given to him in sealed envelopes which his sidekick, Ed McMahon always explained, had been stored in a hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnalls’ porch since Noon, yesterday (see “Carnac The Magnificent” on youtube.com).
Today, Ed McMahon might have trouble placing those envelopes in Hellmann’s mayonnaise jars. Like many other food products, the jars of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise (and I would guess, Unilever’s Best Foods Mayonnaise, as it is known “West of the Rockies”) are shrinking. Apparently, Unilever, the owner of the Hellmann’s and Best Foods brands, felt it was no longer able to continue selling the standard quart sized jar of mayonnaise. I think that the benchmark quart-sized jar of Hellmanns Mayonnaise was untinkered with as far back as anyone can remember. Lately, the container or package sizes that many food products have traditionally been sold in, whether it’s pound, liter, gallon, half-gallon, quart, pint, or dozen sized boxes, jars or bottles, are becoming extinct. Manufacturers use downsizing alone, or in conjunction with price increases and/or less expensive formulations, to raise the true cost of their products. You know, I could swallow the fact a little easier if they didn’t have to resort to deception engineering in an attempt to hide the fact that they’ve downsized their products.
George Bush told us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It was one of the justifications for the United States’ decision to invade Iraq. Those weapons have never been found in Iraq (see Iraq in the CIA‘s World Fact Book). Has anyone thought to look under the jars of Hellmann’s and Best Foods Mayonnaise in Saddam’s palaces?
That’s right. I said UNDER the mayonnaise jars, not in them.
In what appears to me to be an effort to deceive consumers, Unilever, the company that makes Hellmann’s and Best Foods Mayonnaise, has redesigned the jars (at least on their Hellmann’s brand) to hide the fact that they now contain less product. Unilever has used deception engineering to design a jar with a deeply concave bottom. I don’t think there’s a single legitimate reason for this, other than to make the jar appear to contain more mayonnaise than it actually does. You could probably hide half of a tennis ball under these jars. What was previously their 32 ounce (1 quart) jar is now 30 ounces, a reduction of almost seven percent. They have also switched from glass to plastic jars in recent years. I don’t know about you, but I prefer glass. I also believe glass jars (for any product) are more environmentally friendly. I doubt that most manufacturer’s packaging choices are driven as much by environmental factors as by cost, and plastic bottles and jars are currently less expensive than glass. Plastic bags are cheaper than paper bags, so most supermarkets prefer to use plastic despite the environmental impact.
To make matters even worse, we have noticed that our last few jars of Hellmanns Mayonnaise did not taste or look the same as it always did. It’s not as stiff or thick a consistency as it always was. I thought this was just my imagination until I started finding complaints posted on the Web about Unilever making changes to the Hellmanns Mayonnaise recipe. The postings I’ve read say that Unilever has acknowledged changing their recipe. This is blasphemy. What is wrong with the people at Unilever? They were apparently not content with giving consumers less in terms of volume, so they screwed with the recipe too? How much do you want to bet the recipe change was done to save Unilever money? Shortsighted, and just plain dumb, if you ask me. They must have geniuses running the company. When you have a product as successful and as instantly recognizable as Hellmanns Mayonnaise, you don’t mess with it. It’s an American classic (or at least it was). Perhaps nobody at Unilever cares. They’ll just run the brand into the ground, and sell it to another company when it’s no longer profitable. The financial analysts will proclaim what a great strategic business move it was, and Unilever’s Board of Directors will approve a salary increase for the CEO, who will fly the coop anyway, for an even higher paying job at another company.
Getting back to Iraq, if I were Saddam, I might have been tempted to hide any nerve gas, plutonium, anthrax, or other weapons of mass destruction I had under my Hellmann’s Mayonnaise jars. Honestly, who would think of looking there? The UN weapons inspectors were busy searching underground bunkers, military facilities and chemical plants. Placing those weapons under the Hellmann’s jars would have been the ultimate shell game.
Can’t find your car keys? Is one of your children missing? Unable to locate that remote control? Look under your jar of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise.
Trying to get rid of some dirt? Don’t sweep it under the rug. Put it under the jar of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. Kids… did you get a report card that you don’t want your parents to see? You know where to hide it.
Those nice people at Unilever must have thought they could get this one past consumers. I mean, who ever looks UNDER the jar?
You might want to thank Unilever for being considerate enough to lighten their jars of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, and making them so much easier to carry. If you’re in the USA, you can contact Unilever at the number printed on the label, 1(800) 418-3275 with your comments. Don’t forget to say “Thank You”. You can even speak to them in Spanish, since the label says “Se habla Espanol”. Tell them “Mucho Gracias from RoutingByRumor”, por favor. Also, ask them why the name of their Mayonnaise changes when it travels over the Rocky Mountains. My guess is that it has something to do with atmospheric pressure.
And next time you’re shopping, you might want to buy another brand that still comes in a full quart jar, and which still tastes as good as it used to.
To summarize, in my opinion…
– Jars of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise are now smaller.
– You get less Hellmann’s Mayonnaise for your money.
– Hellmann’s Mayonnaise does not taste as good.
– Hellmann’s Mayonnaise consistency has changed.
– The Hellmann’s Mayonnaise plastic jar does not protect it’s taste, quality or the environment as well as a glass jar.
– The Hellmann’s Mayonnaise packaging is deceptive.
– Unilever has lowered the quality and quantity of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise.