The toilet paper shortages of early quarantine may be behind us, but companies have been shorting buyers for years. Toilet paper used to average 4.5 inches a square, but some have shrunk to be only 4.1 x 3.7-inch squares — a 25% decrease. You would not guess this at first glance, for many companies have enlarged the cardboard tubes to compensate for the decrease and trick buyers.

Toilet paper isn’t the only culprit of this secret shrinkage. Some bottles on store shelves have been altered to be slightly concaved at the bottom to hold less liquid but appear full. The bottoms of many jars are not flat but raised to hold less but appear as though there is more of a product. Cereal boxes have also been shrunk to make them narrower from front to back and some boxes of cookies shed several grams but did little advertising to alert buyers of the change. 

These design “cheats” are deceptive and meant to trick the buyer into thinking they are getting more of a product than is there. This deceptiveness may boost profits, but it is disrespectful to their loyal shoppers that continue to purchase these products. Many of these brands have been on the shelf for years, and buyers have likely developed brand loyalty toward the product  —  making them reluctant to switch to a better deal or stop and question if their tomato sauce seems a little lighter.

Shrinkage is also a hassle for those unaware. In the middle of making Grandma’s famous cookies, you’re going to be out of luck when the peanut butter jar that contained just enough to make the recipe is several spoonful’s short halfway through the baking process. When an old recipe calls for one can of George’s Chopped Fruit, your dish probably will not turn out as well given the reduced amount of fruit per can.

Eventually, people will and have caught on to the gradual reduction of these products. The toilet paper roll that once fit snug on my holder now has a good inch of wiggle room  — that isn’t easy to ignore. People may become mistrustful of the brand as a result. If companies are going to such lengths to secretly alter their containers, what else are they hiding? When the product in question is something like food — that mistrust may have buyers switching to a new brand.

While companies shrinking the amount of their product is in itself understandable, the lack of transparency and lengths they will go to trick their buyers is dishonest and can turn consumers away. 

Charlene Pepiot is a junior studying English at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Charlene know by emailing her