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Monday, June 03, 2013

Truth In Cookie Labeling

On the way to work the other day, I stopped at the gas station, and while the tank was filling, went inside to get a snack. The first thing I spotted was this package of Chips Ahoy chocolate chunk cookies. Nabisco calls it King Size because it contains 8 cookies, which seemed like the right amount to satisfy my sugar craving.

After eating them, I turned over the package, looked at the Nutrition Facts box and couldn't believe my eyes. It said "Serving Size: 1 cookie." That must be Nabisco's way of keeping the calorie count down, because the chart said one cookie is only 80 calories.

One cookie? Who buys this product and only eats one chocolate chunk cookie? No one, that's who. Not Cookie Monster on "Sesame Street" and certainly not me. I ate all eight of them, for a whopping total of 640 calories. But even knowing that number ahead of time wouldn't have stopped me. You don't buy Chips Ahoy because you're dieting or watching your caloric intake. You buy them because you're in the mood for cookies, and these are among the best.

The other thing I scowled at on the Chips Ahoy label was: "Servings Per Container: About 8." About? What is that, an educated guess? On the front of the package, right under the words "King Size," there's a big blue circle with the words "8 Cookies." How did that become an approximation on the Nutrition Facts chart? Are there broken cookies getting through the Nabisco factory, shortchanging some packages by two-tenths of a cookie? Is eight an average, so you might get 7 or you might get 9?

I told this story to a friend later that day as he was drinking a Monster energy drink. He looked at the 15.5-ounce can to see how many servings it supposedly contained. To his surprise, it said two. In one can. Because you don't want to get too much energy, so it's best to share the can with a friend. Or leave it open until a few hours pass and you need more energy.

That's like selling me a box of angel hair pasta and telling me the nutritional information for one strand. Or a single Corn Flake. Or a baked bean. When you do that, you're just gaming the system.

For the record, I did wash all eight cookies down with one full serving of skim milk -- not because I'm a hypocrite, but because that's what I grew up drinking and still enjoy. On the rare occasions when I drink whole milk (or even 2%), it feels like I'm having a milkshake.

And only a crazy person would wash down eight chocolate chunk cookies with a milkshake (serving size: one glass).