Jack from Fork & Bottle pointed me to this article about the sizes found at fast food restaurants.
There’s a few tidbits that are worth noting, but what caught my attention was this bit:
To be fair, some restaurants have tried to scale it back. When Ruby Tuesday cut serving sizes in 2004, customers balked, and the big portions returned.
But that’s because consumers are programmed into thinking that bigger size means bigger value.
I’m not so sure that I agree with the assumption that people think that bigger sizes are bigger values. I’m of the belief that meal satisfaction plays a larger role here than many people realize.
Eating can create specific responses in the body that cause it to release endorphins. One way to to have a delicious meal, where the food itself causes pleasurable response (Think the recent posts on soft boiled eggs or tacos, where people talked about the pleasure of those particular foods).
Another way to release endorphins is to become sated by eating to the point of being full. This pleasure is different from the “joy of food”. Rather let’s call this the “joy of full”. Each is a different response to food, and results in a different type of…well…pleasure.
Since many restaurants, especially those designed to create profits on a massive scale, cannot please the many tastes of the vast consumer base (as defined by the “joys of food”), they instead focus on the quantity of the food sold, rather than the quality. This means somewhat larger profit margins, and consumers still leave the restaurant with a pleasurable feeling, albeit one based on the sense of being full, rather than one based on having a well prepared meal made with quality ingredients.
Granted, this is pure speculation on my part, and I am NOT a bio-chemist. But this sounds more plausable than millions of McDonalds customers are being “tricked” into thinking that Big Macs are a better value than a simple cheeseburger.