In 2012 Mars Inc., the company that makes Snickers, Twix, M&Ms, and Dove chocolate bars, made a plan to stop selling king-sized candy, or products that have more than 250 calories per serving.
Though some questioned whether this had to do with the price of cocoa, Mars insisted that it was a part of a health and nutrition effort.
"Mars has a broad-based commitment to health and nutrition, and this includes a number of global initiatives," the company said in a statement.
In 2007, Mars also changed the wrapping on their chocolate products, putting calorie counts directly on the front, reducing saturated fat, and eliminating trans fat.
Changes like that can make those like Brad Dixon of Oklahoma, who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, more aware. But is it the marketing of Mars, Inc. or something else that motivates Dixon and those like him to change their lifestyles?
29-year old Dixon recalls a friend who was also diagnosed with diabetes but who wouldn't stop eating the king-sized candy bars.
“I’ll just take more insulin,” he told Dixon. A few months later, doctors had to amputate one of the man’s feet.
“I absolutely was not going to let that happen," Dixon said. "No matter what I had to do."
So why is Mars king-sized candy still out there? Simply searching for "king-sized" candy online can bring up numerous products, including an Amazon listing of Snickers 2 To Go (formally King Size). Instead of one large bar, the package contains 2 bars in a resealable package.
The same is true for other Mars products, including 3 Musketeers King Size, M&Ms, and Milky Way. There is even a Snickers 3X Chocolate, a 3.14 ounce bar divided into two pieces. Each piece is only 210 calories and the wrapping is resealable but, honestly, how many consumers are going to only eat one piece once they have opened it?
Despite Mars' campaign to promote a healthier lifestyle, it seems as if their new products are just a new way of packaging and reducing cost.
In 2009, Mars UK was accused of smokescreening and finally admitted that the change in the size of the candy bars was, in fact, not due to a major public health initiative but was triggered by rising costs.
"Like all food manufacturers, we have seen continued cost increases over the last few years," they said in a statement. "We look to absorb the vast majority of these costs by being more efficient, but on occasion we have to consider increasing prices. By slightly reducing portion sizes on Mars and Snickers we were able to continue to responsibly meet consumer demands for healthier lifestyles whilst not increasing our prices."
On airplanes, passengers cannot bring any liquids on board that are larger than three ounces. Therefore, passengers have learned to bring multiple three oz bottles filled with the same liquid.
The same is true of candy bars. If the consumer wants more than 250 calories worth, all they have to do is purchase twice as many. Interesting marketing, Mars Inc. But don't pretend it's for the overall health of the public.
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