You're Not Imagining It, There Really Are Less Chips In Your Bag Of Doritos

If that bag of Doritos you just bought feels a little lighter that you remember, that's probably because it is. Doritos has downsized their nacho cheese flavored snack bags by five chips, bringing the actual weight of the package down from 9.75 to 9.25 ounces. And unfortunately, Doritos and their parent company, popular snack brand Frito-Lay, aren't the only ones shrinking products. 

As Quartz notes, a number of other popular everyday products are also subtly getting smaller or lighter. Bounty Triples paper towels have gone from 165 to 147 sheets, Crest white radiant mint toothpaste has shrunk from 4.1 to 3.8 ounces, and Wheat Thins Family Size Original is not so subtly offering 28 fewer crackers as the packaging dips from 16 to 14 ounces. "Inflation is hitting everyone," admitted a Frito-Lay representative quoted by the outlet. "We took just a little bit out of the bag so we can give you the same price and you can keep enjoying your chips."

It's just the latest example of shrinkflation, an uncomfortable portmanteau word that combines shrink and inflation. Shrinkflation is what happens when companies try to deal with rising supply costs without raising the price of their products. Everything gets just a little smaller and lighter.

Inflation just reached a 40-year high

Economic factors ranging from the pandemic pressures of the past two years to the current crisis in Ukraine have caused food and energy costs to rise appreciably. As CNBC reports, the consumer price index has risen 7.9% over the past 12 months, the biggest uptick in inflation in 40 years. So companies like Frito-Lay have to make a choice, per Quartz: They can raise the price of products to keep pace with inflation, they can use cheaper ingredients, or they can shrink their products a little bit.

Is shrinking products the ethical option? Consumer advocates like Edgar Dworsky will argue the point. As the consumer rights attorney and Consumer World founder told CBS Radio affiliate KDKA (via CBS Pittsburgh), "The manufacturer knows that most consumers are not net-weight conscious. They don't look at the fine print on the product box, so they won't even realize they've been snookered."

Snookered is a loaded word for a complicated issue, but one thing is certain: That bag of Doritos you just bought with five fewer chips is the perfect encapsulation of the phenomenon of shrinkflation.