The End of 100-Calorie Packs?

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on June 3, 2009

Yesterday I came across an interesting article on 100-calorie packs! You may have also noticed the Tip of the Day mentioned it too.

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Kraft was the first company to pioneer the 100-calorie packs and they made an estimated 75 million off them in the first year alone. Even the Girl Scouts are banking in on the trend. I admit, when I first saw them, I thought they were the greatest idea. The only thing that prevented me from buying them much was the fact that I was a student and couldn’t afford much for groceries. When I did buy the packs I would often eat 3 in one sitting because I just didn’t feel full!

Have you ever opened all of the 100-calorie pack bags and dumped it into a bowl? Not exactly getting the best bang for your buck!

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However, that didn’t stop me from buying those 100-calorie chocolate bars- the Cadbury Thin. Eric would say to me each time, “You know you are paying the price of a regular chocolate bar, but they are only giving you half of one?” He was right, and I admitted defeat to the chocolate mastermind.

They even came up with clever ads to market to women only:

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But those days are now long behind me. I chose not to buy 100-calorie packs and instead eat whole, real foods free of chemicals, high fructose corn syrup, and the like. It is also so much more cost efficient to buy in bulk, and better yet, to make your own food when possible. And let’s be honest, the 100-calorie packs aren’t doing anything for the environment.

100-calorie packs do work for some people and I know that many people swear by them for potion control. I guess it just depends on the person and what you take from it.

The study mentioned in this article is quite interesting!

  • The study, led by researcher Marcia Mogelonsky created two groups of participants
  • One group was given 100-calorie packs and the other was given potato chips that were in regular sized bags
  • Both groups were put in front of a television
  • The results were simple: Participants who were given the 100-calorie packs consumed more food than the group who wasn’t.
  • It is thought that when people eat what is perceived to be a ‘diet food’ it gives them a license to eat more and they feel less guilt

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I thought these results were really interesting however I think the study is a bit flawed because they should have created a 3rd group who ate from the same size bag as the 100-calorie bag, but didn’t label it as so. This 3rd group could serve as a control to see whether it was in fact the words 100-calorie on the bag that gave them the desire to eat more, or if it was simply the small serving that tricked them into thinking they weren’t eating much.

Today’s question: What are your thoughts on 100-calorie packs? Do you think they are a fad that will soon fade out? Do you see companies creating more 100-calorie packs for different products? Have you ever been lured into buying 100-calorie packs?

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

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Tina June 3, 2009 at 1:03 pm

NOOOOOOO! They only just started selling them here :(… I was so excited about them because they would be perfect for my portion-control issue…

But I guess I could do something like that myself… I started prepackaging my nuts so I won’t overeat them… it seems to be working. Only I learned the hard way that SOAKED ALMONDS do not stay good for long in your cupboard…

xxx

P.S. Love your blog, I’m an eager reader, can’t wait till your next post!

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Milca June 3, 2009 at 1:06 pm

You’re absolutely right about this trend.

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Katy June 3, 2009 at 1:13 pm

I totally agree with what people seem to be saying- 100 kcal packs are a total waste of money and bad for the environment!

On another note, I thought I’d share something interesting-

Here is a question I sent Blue Diamond regarding Almond Breeze:

“Online, your nutritional information for the Original Almond Breeze says that 1 cup has 50% of your daily Vitamin E intake. But on my box at home it only says 10%. Which one is correct?”

And the response (which was impressively quick):

“Good morning Katy –

thank you for contacting Blue Diamond Growers.

The nutritional information you are viewing online is for domestic (US) product that has been fortified with Vitamin E. Canadian product is not fortified.

If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me.”

Darn! I thought I was getting 50% of my RDA for Vitamin E every morning, but I guess Canadians only get 10% :)

Have a good day everyone!

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Kristie June 3, 2009 at 1:23 pm

I always thought the 100 calorie packs were kind of ridiculous. I bought them a couple times and would throw them into lunches and things once in a while because they were convenient but more often than not they would just sit in my cupboard for months on end because I never felt like eating them. They didn’t satisfy me and I much prefer grabbing “real” food. If I want a snack, I’ll grab an apple or even a handful of crackers. Something sweet? I’d rather grab a couple handfuls of cereal or half of an ACTUAL cookie. Maybe the portion control isn’t quite there but I feel a heck of a lot more satisfied. If I ate those little packages it would just leave me rummaging for more food anyway. Kind of useless IMO.

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Susan June 3, 2009 at 1:23 pm

I can’t stand anything bite-sized so I’ve never bothered with them. Have you ever seen the oreo packs? They don’t even have the cream in the middle!!! I’d rather have one full oreo and call it a day than mindlessly nosh on 100 calories worth of mediocre bite-sized snacks.

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Kat June 3, 2009 at 1:28 pm

The only 100 calorie packs that i like (and purcahse) are the 100 cal packs of almonds and the 100 cal pack of almonds and walnuts by Emerald Nuts (I think, the package is green). The only ingredients are raw nuts and while i would love to buy a large bag of almonds, i sometimes have an issue with portion control so, for me, it is worth it. As for the “other” 100 calorie packs, I wouldn’t touch them with a 10-foot pole, especially after reading the extensive ingredient list.

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april June 3, 2009 at 1:35 pm

I used to buy them a few summers ago but they never satisfied any cravings. I’ve seen them everywhere now- even the dollarstore brands are coming up with their own! I don’t eat them now because 1. they don’t have any sort of nutrients or fiber/protein that would fill me up and 2. they are so dang tiny! I’d much rather have a huge 100 calorie apple or something of the sort.

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KK @ Running Through Life June 3, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Originally, I was all for the 100 calorie packs since the calories were predetermined for me. But then I started to think how little I got for my 100 calories. Along with that, I decided to cut out processed foods. So, good bye 100 calorie packs and hello fresh fruits and veggies!

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Meredith (Pursuing Balance) June 3, 2009 at 2:11 pm

My thoughts: too expensive, too much packaging = bad for the environment, and full of weird/scary ingredients. If you need portion control, it’s better to buy in bulk and separate into re-washable tupperwares.

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valerie June 3, 2009 at 2:19 pm

I stopped eating these as well b/c they are full of chemicals and the excess packaging is ridiculous. Plus,”diet” food is often processed and really unhealthy. Great post! Thanks!

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Erika June 3, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I tried a few of the 100-calorie packs when they came out, but wasn’t too impressed. I think the idea is nice, but I could easily eat 3-4 of the packs. Plus, I am too cheap to spend that much. I only tried the packs when they were on sale as it was, and even that was more than I really could see paying. So, I like to buy things at the best price and I use zippies to provide myself with the amount that is appropriate for me – whether that amount is 50 calories or 300. Plus, I like to eat dried or fresh fruit/veggies rather than packets of cookies anyways. Soooo, they aren’t omething I’ll ever buy again in the future…and I have a feeling they will stick around for a while because they are “easier” and trick folks to thinking they are being better at providing their kids or themsleves goodies in smaller, more reasonable portions rather than really looking at what they are eating. Just my opinion….thanks for the post :)

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Heather June 3, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I think they were most popular when they first came out and were new to the world. Now, I think that people are beginning to realize how unhealthy and overpriced all of these snacks are and are finding better ways to watch portion control. I do think this fad will pass pretty soon. I never really caught on to it, but I think that’s mostly because I don’t eat the foods that started this craze. Although, I do agree that I can see where it would be helpful for some people who have problems with portion control.

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Jenn June 3, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Honestly I’ve never bought them. They are too darn expensive!

RE: Mara’s list of 100 calorie snacks. I’ll take almost any of those over bite sized cookie packs anyday! Though, I’m laughing out loud at the thought of movie theatres serving containers filled with 12 cups of delicious lettuce – only 100 calories!

In really puts things into perspective. So interesting.

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Julie June 3, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I used to eat 100 Cal packs ALL the time when I was on weight watchers and sometimes I would eat like 5 a day and say “okay thats 10 points” but it was 10 points of nothingness. I stopped eating them and now would much rather have 100 calories of healthy fats then processed junk. But I think it’s good for people who are first starting dieting and have trouble with portion control, atleast they can know that that serving is 100 calories.

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Faith June 3, 2009 at 4:44 pm

I’ll admit, I’ve tried a few of the 100-calorie packs. (The advertisements are really enticing!) The problem is that they’re just not filling. For me, I’ve found that raw, natural snacks (like an apple and a small handful of almonds) keep me satisfied much longer.

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Holly June 3, 2009 at 4:53 pm

I used to be a HUGE fan, and ended up eating 2-3 in a sitting! lol. Needless to say, the 100 Cal People no longer get my money.

That said, I can see how they might be good in certain situations (like my sisters keep them in their purses for emergency kiddo snacks, since they don’t spoil easily – or at all?!). But for me, I’ve definitely learned that I’d choose 15 almonds over these packs ANYday! Man, those Lorna Doones were SOOOO good, though. Sigh.

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D June 3, 2009 at 5:13 pm

I buy the 100 cal packs of natural almonds…I like them and they are more satisfying than 100 cal of oreos or something…but I definitely think it depends on the person. If you simply can’t live without a little bit of an oreo then it gives you a good option to portion control it…even if it is the best bang for your nutritional buck. (so to speak)

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Angelea (Cabin Fever Feast) June 3, 2009 at 6:03 pm

100 calorie packs have always annoyed me! Too much packaging and waste and it’s so gimmicky and most are just junk.

With a toddler, I always have to be prepared with snacks on hand. I’ve been packaging up dry cereal mixes or Kashi crackers as they travel well. I also keep a fruit and nut bar in my purse for hunger emergencies for anyone in the family that needs it.

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Meghan June 3, 2009 at 6:22 pm

I have purchased these in the past as I thought they were neater for bringing to work than dishing out portions of snacks. I once bought some 100 calorie mini cupcakes (Hostess, I think?) and they were waxy and gross!
Packaged snacks like this don’t even appeal to me anymore; I guess the body gets used to not having things and doesn’t crave them. Give me a big homemade cookie or just some fruit or grain crackers and cheese anyday. Plus the individual packaging isn’t great for the environment!

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Michelle June 3, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Thank you so much for writing this. I have been on WW for 8 years..still on it..however in a different mental framework. I have a friend who is now working for WW as one of their online spokespeople and I went off on her yesterday. Why? Becuase ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL of their WW food is full of CRAP! In fact when WW had the ‘Core’ plan which is eat wholesome food until you’re full you couldn’t eat ANY of the WW food. Why? Because it’s not wholesome. I think the thing with diet food..which you pointed out well..is that it doesn’t work. Why?
1. people who are wanting an Oreo..or twenty…should learn to enjoy the 1 oreo.
2. the diet food is a subsitute..however it doesn’t address the issue of overeating. In fact I think it encourages it.
3. Because the diet food doesn’t taste the same, people tend to eat more, trying to get it to taste like a real oreo..or because ‘it’s only 100 calories’.

I haven’t eaten diet food in forever. I don’t eat artificial sweeteners and/or sugar anymore. yeah I miss ice cream, but not as much as you think that you would. Thank you for writing this.

If you want a piece of cake.have it. just don’t eat the whole cake.

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Ellen (Peace in Motion) June 3, 2009 at 6:52 pm

I liked the idea of the portion size, but like you said I often ate more than one. While recovering from an eating disorder, I remember one time that I binged on them. I ate an entire box (6 bags!). I felt AWFUL after, but in my mind, at least it wasn’t an entire box of the same cookies.

So I’m not really sure where I stand on them. I feel they could be great for someone who is learning how to eat again, but at the same time, I no longer make room for them in my diet. I realized they were doing more harm than good. Like you said, because they were ONLY 100 calories, I felt it was okay to eat more than one.

I would rather eat 100 calories of whole grains and things that will fill me up, rather than 100 calories of processed junk!

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Sarah (LovIN My Tummy) June 3, 2009 at 7:16 pm

I agree with everyone else (mostly). I would rather eat 100 calories of real food then 100 calories of garbage.

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Dea June 3, 2009 at 9:25 pm

We eat well, but sometimes I buy quick snacks for the kids’ lunches. Because I had a coupon and they were cheap, I ended up buying Kudos bars that were labeled “100 calories” which kind of annoyed me. I know they’re not the healthiest, but to put that label to make it seem healthier is a scam.

We buy almonds in bulk, and I was shocked to see 100 cal packs of almonds.

I am so proud of my kids because they make healthy choices and stop eating when they’re full. They’ve learned to eat in moderation and not be part of the clean plate club. They even read ingredients.

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Amanda June 3, 2009 at 10:40 pm

I used to buy 100 calorie snacks because they seemed “safe” to me. I admit that I was not satisfied after eating them, but felt that I did not trust myself enough to exercise willpower and portion control! I don’t buy them anymore, and prefer to pre-portion my own snacks .. but I do really like those little bags of popcorn that come in around 100 calories each .. perfect personal size!!

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Julie June 3, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Hmmm, maybe I don’t have self control issues but it’s never even crossed my mind to eat more than 1 pack in a sitting. I buy the 100 cal cheese nips every now and then because I enjoy a handful of cheese nips and an apple as a snack every once in a while and if I were to buy a box of cheese crackers they would go stale waaaay before I finished the box. I also buy the Kashi individual pack crackers for the same reason; I cannot finsih a full box before they go stale.

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Monique August 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm

i see im a little late on this but in a food network show called Food Detectives, they placed reduced fat cheese crackers in identical bags and split the groups into to and just told them to watch a movie. They told the first group they were eating a reduced fat snack and didnt tell the other group anything. At the end of the experiment, they collected the crackers left on both sides and the side that are the so called REGULAR crackers at less than the reduced fat snackers.
interesting!

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