Sunday, May 25, 2014

Yes, size matters!

Today is my son’s twelfth birthday. And for his birthday breakfast he asked for chocolate chip pancakes, bacon, and chocolate milk.

Awesome! Who can argue with that?

So first thing this morning I went to the grocery store to get what I needed: Chocolate chips, buttermilk, bacon. I had everything else. At the milk section there was the now normal vast selection of milk things. Gallons and half gallons and quarts of whole milk and low-fat and non-fat (formally 2% and skim). Cream and half-and-half of different sizes. Non-dairy and lactose free concoctions. And there, in the upper right hand corner, quart containers of buttermilk. Perfect! Almost. The recipe I use calls for one cup of buttermilk and I double it, so I needed a pint. And as luck would have it, right next to the quart bottles was the smaller sized pint. So I grabbed it, checked out, and got home.

And then, during the preparation, I pulled out the buttermilk, opened it, and was horrified! This bottle, masquerading as a pint bottle, was no such thing! It was a mere 14 ounces!

What the !?!

Now, two ounces may not seem like much. And in the grand scheme of the infinite universe it isn’t that much. But this morning it is much. Yes, I can easily add another 2 ounces of regular milk, which I did, to get the 16 ounces I need, but I was aiming for those perfect chocolate chip buttermilk pancakes and they require 100% buttermilk.

And then I pondered: Who decides to cut off 2 ounces from a milk container? Milk, and all its friends, come in containers in multiples of 8 ounces: 8, 16, 32, 64, 128. That is just how it is. Do half-gallon containers now have 56 ounces? Of course not! And buttermilk in particular! Sure, some may just drink buttermilk, but mostly, I have to believe, it is used in baking. Pancakes, biscuits – that sort of thing. And for baking, 14 ounce containers are simply inconvenient at best.

I looked more closely at the label. Sure enough, clearly labeled. 14 ounces (414 mL). Oh, and thanks for the metric conversion. I really appreciate that. I turned the bottle around for the serving information. And then saw this under the ironically labeled “Nutrition Facts:”

Serving Size 1 cup.
Servings Per Container About 2.

About 2! About 2?

You call that a Nutrition Fact? The serving size “fact” is that there are 1.75 servings per container. That’s the fact!

About 2 is like me saying “my undergrad grade point average was about a 3.0.”  It’s like Hank Aaron saying he hit about 800 home runs! Or it’s like Woody Allen saying, “well she was about 19.”

Sometimes there are things where “about” works. Like:

“Hey buddy, how far to the nearest liquor store.”
“Oh, about a mile.”

But for other things, like buttermilk, precision and accuracy count.

Odd, in our era of abundance and super-sized portions, I have to settle for a 14-ounce pint bottle. We seem to be cutting corners all the time. Government, corporations, you name it! Maybe if we were honest about it I wouldn’t be so angry. Okay, okay, sure, no one lied to me about the 14-ounce bottle. It was on the label. But I think I’ve got generations of milk buying history on my side to say that good ol’ wholesome milk comes in 16 ounce pints, 32 ounce quarts, 64 ounce half-gallons, or 128 ounce gallons. That is just how it is. If one day I walk up to the milk aisle and ONE of the containers is 7/8 the standard size, there needs to be a big sign somewhere.

It’s no different then if you went to the gas station and the price was now $3.89 for “About” a Gallon and you actually got exactly 112 ounces of gas.

Well, that’s all for now. Back to the birthday!

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