The Hershey Company is a pretty big operation. They make all kinds of chocolate and candy products, including of course, the Hershey Bar and Hershey Bar with almonds.
As a kid I toured the actual Hershey Chocolate Factory. Not the phony tourist setup they have now, but the real thing. We saw the machines and workers making zillions of Hershey Kisses. It smelled wonderful.
Hershey's pretty much was Halloween for many kids in those days, the late 1960s. We even ate the Mr. Goodbars with peanuts in them. Just an oddity compared to a genuine Hershey bar. But delicious in its oddball way.
Somewhere in my late teens or early 20s I developed a relationship with the York Peppermint Pattie. This circular "candy bar" was somehow fascinating. You often found them at social occasions where the mini-patties would sit in a bowl wrapped in their exciting silver wrappers. One took great joy unwrapping each of these treats. It seemed like you could eat them forever and not get full.
They are apparently lower in fat than many types of candy bars. The wrapper itself says "70% Less Fat!" which probably only means that the rest of the candy industry makes junk so thick with animal fats or other such artery-cloggers you don't want to know what's in them. Ever eaten an Almond Joy or Mounds bar? They are fat bombs for sure.
So the York Peppermint Pattie occupied a favored place in my universe for many years. It was almost as if I were the only one who ever bought them, or so I imagined. The average consumer didn't have the class to love the York Peppermint Pattie, which paralleled other party-favor products like Canada Dry Ginger Ale. Both were a cocktail party treat you could have every day, if you were smart enough to look for them. A party in your mouth. I have even dunked Peppermint Patties in cold ginger ale. Try it if you dare.
One of my favorite ways to consume the York Peppermint Pattie is in the rare-ish 6-pak form that shows up in some gas stations. There is something enormously satisfying in opening the package and having access to six fresh patties, all there to be eaten at your own pace. Strangely, it seems this 6-pak form costs about as much as the standard pattie, perhaps a quarter more.
Which brings us to the issue of the size and quantity of candy you get in your standard York Peppermint Pattie.
They are much smaller these days. The label says 79 cents but one must ask the question: That cost is in comparison to what? The York Peppermint Pattie of yore was wider in radius, thicker in girth and longer in circumference than the modern-day pattie. For 79 cents you are barely getting more candy than you'd find in those mini-patties stacked in cocktail bowls and sold in 6-paks. The individually wrapped patties sold at the remaining local drug store in a nearby town sell for 25 cents. They are about 1.25" across. The current "full-sized" pattie is barely 2" across, and much, much thinner in girth than they used to be.
There are 140 calories in the current York patties. 25 of those calories still come from fat, which comprises 2.5g of the content. Of that, 1.5 grams are saturated fat. There are a total of 31g of carbohydrates and 25g of sugar, 1g of protein and 10mg of sodium. So honestly, as candy bars go, the York Peppermint Pattie is probably better for you than most.
They have been shrinking in size for years, bit by bit. One almost expects that one day you'll open the wrapper and find one of the 25 cent sizes inside a full sized wrapper. All sorts of candy manufacturers, cereal makers, soft drink sellers and products all across the food spectrum are playing the same game. Shrinking product while shrinking packaging to disguise the fact that consumers are getting less than their money used to buy.
It is an insidious little game. You are naturally drawn to these brands. They occupy our conscious and sub-conscious minds. One glance at the wrapper and you Get the Sensation as the marketing says.
You can visit www.YorkPeppermintPattie.com if you'd like to know even more about the product.
They might or might not tell you on the website that York Peppermint Patties are manufactured in Mexico.
And that's fine. Lots of great things are made in Mexico. China. Japan. India. Malaysia. That's globalization for you.
Except the more we ship stuff to be made over the border or overseas, the more it seems to cost consumers despite the fact that labor's supposed to be cheaper. Sure, ingredients like sugar and high fructose corn syrup keep going up. But there will come a time of absolute diminishing returns if the cost to produce the product forces the size of the product down to an absurd level where it no longer makes any sense to buy it.
Of course, there is one benefit to smaller candy bars. They will not make Americans fatter. I'm a healthy guy who works out a lot and can afford to eat an occasional candy bar.
But I'm saying goodbye to the York Peppermint Pattie even though I've eaten them all my life. It's the first part of my stand against consumer goods that have become a clear market rip-off in comparison to the values of the past.
If that reduces me to eating grass from my own back yard, so be it. We consumers have to fight back somehow. I'm starting with the York Peppermint Pattie.
Hershey, you can take that shrunken circle of chocolate and shove it. You can't dupe me any more.