Thin Snack Craze: Healthy Habit or Fatty Façade?

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Like Oreo Thins, Chips A'hoy, or Wheat Thins? Ever wondered if the snack food market made up the whole thin snack phase to get more money from snack lovers like you? I did, too, so here's what I
found. Enjoy!

Submitted: January 02, 2018

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Submitted: January 02, 2018



Thin Snack Craze: Healthy Habit or Fatty Façade?

  Imagine walking through a clean grocery store’s snack food aisle, with all the crisp colors and the packages of various healthy alternative foods begging for the customer’s attention. Each product boasts their labels with pride, with words like “Healthy”, “No Trans Fat”, and the best healthy snack badge of all: “Thin”. As if this wasn’t enough, the product emphasizes their increased healthiness by showing the customer through illustrations or a clear product window that their featured cookies or crackers are physically thinner than their fatty counterparts in the neighboring shelf. However, are all of these marketing ploys a façade? Are these products actually helping make the consumer develop healthier choices in their snacking diet, or are these snacks tricking the consumer to make poorer eating habits through flashy labels and physical illusions? Unfortunately, such suspicions are true; the snacking industry has used words like “Thin” and “Healthy” on their food labels, as well as changing the physical size of the snack with no modifications on the ingredients, in order to reap a rich profit from tricked consumers who think they’re eating healthier in their snacking diet, but are in fact sabotaging it by purchasing these snacks.

  Beginning in 2015, Mondelez International, the creator of many snacks purchased today, released a line of their famous Oreo cookies that took the storefront by storm: A line coined as Oreo Thins. By early 2016, the same corporation developed another snack line that was supposed to heed the “…demand for unconventional ingredients,” that consumers who were interviewed by the company wanted to see (Strom, Mondelez Reimagines the Snack). This snack was a brand of crackers called Good Thins, which are designed to appeal to all types of consumers through their various healthy ingredient options, such as rice, oats, and sweet potatoes. However, these new takes on snacking were mainly done for a more monetary reason: Plummeting sales on snacks. Even though the process of snacking takes up over half of the eating schedule for an average person each day, Strom states that the volume sales for Mondelez dropped 3.1 percent before they came up with their thin snack solution (Mondelez Reimagines the Snack). As of the concept of snacking, instead of being a marketing ploy created by food companies, it was derived from the changes of American society initiated about four decades ago. Jill Weisenberger explains in her article What Science Says about Snacking that the different forms of snacking were developed as “…side effects of today's on-the-go lifestyle,” making the business of producing tasty snacks a gold mine for food industries. Companies such as Mondelez have worked to profit from the corporate system well by developing and seeking out smaller branches of their business to release new kinds of snacks to stores across America. However, this system isn’t as profitable as it used to be, as Strom stated when recording Mondelez’ volume sales. So, snack companies developed the healthy label words for their products, and created thinner versions of their products in the hopes of selling more of it, and the experiment seems to work. According to Mondelez International Food Service, one of these snack companies, Nonni’s, has met the thin trend with lucrative results, with it having “…doubled its line for the last three years and posted double-digit growth for more than 10 years,” in a blog published in 2016.

Truly the healthy snack trend has swept both the consumer and corporate worlds off their feet, with the promise of healthier portions in each bite. It is nearly impossible to watch a television show without coming across various commercials highlighting the new thin food trend in the marketplace. However, as CBC Marketplace shows in their 2015 video titled Healthy or Junk food? Busting food labels, food corporations find it easier to lie through their marketing labels instead of developing a truly healthier snack. As seen in CBC’s video report, Campbell’s Soup, a beloved soup company found in most stores today, lie on their label of their so-called “Healthy Request” line of soup, due to the high portions of sodium found in each serving of the soup. Instead of truly making the soup healthier for the consumer and fitting it comfortably for the 1,500 intake for an adult, Campbell’s instead slapped a “Healthy Request” label on a more compact portion of soup than the original, containing 470 milligrams of sodium, which is almost half of the healthy amount of sodium a grown adult should eat in a day (Gunnars, The Salt Myth - How Much Sodium Should You Eat Per Day). Should the consumer choose to eat that salty soup with some original whole grain Wheat Thins, they would digest 230 milligrams within the first sixteen crackers, making this supposedly healthy snack contain 700 milligrams of sodium, leaving only 800 milligrams of sodium left to digest in the day before reaching the healthy limit; what was advertised as a healthy snack has been shown to be quite the opposite.

  Healthy alternatives to snacking have been, in general, thought to be more expensive than their unhealthy counterparts. On the contrary, these “thin” versions of the same unhealthy snack have been priced lower than the normal version of the same product. For example, on the shelves of any American Wal-Mart, a 14.3 oz. package of Oreo cookies is marked $3.83, while the thin cousin, Oreo Thins, is marked $2.87 for a 10.1 oz. package. Seeing how the prices differ based on container size, the Oreo Thins seems to be the better deal, since more cookies can be packaged in the smaller container due to their thinner complexion. With the original Oreo containing 42 calories per cookie and the Oreo Thin containing only 35 calories per cookie, the health-conscious consumer would gladly take the thinner confection (Tuder, Side-By-Side Comparison of New Oreo Thins to Original).  Unfortunately, this too is a marketing ploy, playing on the consumer’s quenching hunger for healthy snacks and never ending thirst for the better deal. Human nature dictates that when there’s more food available to them, then they tend to eat more of it. The food corporations learned how to use this to their advantage by making these snacks physically thinner. The misconception is that making a snack thinner means making it healthier, but the health doesn’t necessarily come from the portion itself, but from how much of said portion is eaten. Therefore, even if the consumer eats the recommended serving size, they still would want more of it and eat the delicious product in excess, with the aimed side effect of buying more of the product, thus thwarting the idea of eating a healthy snack.

  Healthy snacks are supposed to be there to help their consumer make better choices and strive to keep a healthy mindset on their diet. However, snack food corporations have instead twisted this ideology and made it to where the snacks line their corporate pocket books with the consumer’s money, at the cost of the consumer’s health and trust. With labels like “Thin” and “Healthy”, as well as the misconception of making a snack thinner makes it healthier, the consumer pays for essentially more calories and the pretty label alone, with no change in their snacking habits in sight. In other words, investing in such kinds of snacks is a waste of time and money, leaving the consumer’s wallets lighter and their bodies heavier. As a result of statistics and findings such as these, it would be safe to assume that the leaders of companies like Mondelez and Campbell’s are, and probably literally, fat liars to their loyal consumers, and without the consumer’s choice to buy these thinner products on the whim that they would come out healthier in the end, then these snack lines and their time in the trendy spotlight wouldn’t make it past their expiration dates. 























Works Cited:

cbcnews. “Healthy or junk food? Busting food labels (CBC Marketplace).” YouTube, YouTube, 13 Feb. 2015, Accessed 25 October 2017.

 “Fooducate.” Lose weight & improve your health with a real food diet,!page=product&id=543F4DE2-A5B3-11E1-882E-1231381BE564. Accessed 3 November 2017.

 “Thin Wins: Thin Snack Trends, Fat Profits.” Let's Chat Snacks, Accessed 25 October 2017.

Strom, Stephanie. “To Reinvigorate Sales, Mondelez Reimagines the Snack.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 Mar. 2016, Accessed 25 October 2017.

Tuder, Stefanie. “Side-By-Side Comparison of New Oreo Thins to Original.” ABC News, ABC News Network, Accessed 25 October 2017. Free 2-Day Shipping on Millions of Items, cookies&cat_id=976759&typeahead=oreos. Accessed 3 November 2017.

Weisenberger, Jill. “What Science Says about Snacking.” Food & Nutrition Magazine, 28 July 2017, Accessed 3 November 2017.

Gunnars, Kris. “The Salt Myth - How Much Sodium Should You Eat Per Day,” HealthLine, 22 June 2017, Accessed 4 November 2017.

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