100-cal Snacks Will Suck Your Wallet Dry

Junk food: enemy of your thighs, now enemy of your pocketbook. Is anyone surprised that 100-calorie portions of Chex Mix and Keebler Deluxe Cookies cost three-and-a-half times more per ounce than their regular-size brethern? Or that snack-portioned Cheese Nips cost nearly four times as much?

The extra convenience—and unnecessarily wasteful packaging—costs extra money, says a new study from the Center for Science in Public Interest. ABC News notes that if you buy a large bag of the regular Chex Mix snack and divvy up portions equal to 100 calories each, you'd only be out 25 cents per portion, compared with 87 cents if you went with a 100-calorie pack. Each 100-calorie portion of Keebler Chips Deluxe Family Size Cookies cost 16 cents, but a prepackaged snack would cost you 40 cents extra."These are extraordinary premiums that people are paying for the little convenience that they're getting," said Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

And what people what, people get: In just three years, snack-pack sales have surged to more than $200 million.

General Mills defends the added expense by pointing out the increased manufacturing and packaging costs; it says the smaller bags are more expensive to produce. Nabisco says that the snacks aren't just mini versions of the originals—their taste has been reformulated. Kellog's argument that the snack sizes act as a "built-in stop sign" that helps people manage their calories bears some truth, but you can adapt that concept easily simply by apportioning out family-size snacks in a reusable container.

And people watching their weight, which these snack packs ostensibly target, should be aware that chowing down two 100-calorie packs of Hostess Mini Cupcakes result in more calories consumed than what you get with one large Hostess cupcake.

"I think it's important to note that none of these foods are really health foods. We're talking cookies and crackers—foods that we really shouldn't be eating much of anyhow," Jacobson said. Snack happy, but snack smart. And maybe eat an apple instead, once in a while. ::ABC News

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