I love ice cream. That probably doesn't make me much different than just about everybody else, but the fact remains, I love the stuff. There's a great business book that just came out called The Milkshake Moment wherein the author, Steven S. Little, rhapsodizes about the prize at the end of every business travel day: a vanilla milkshake... "a thick, gooey, luscious, indulgent vanilla milkshake. I'm talking a hand-dipped, old-fashioned, malt-shoppy kind of milkshake." I can identify with Mr. Little, as I've pursued many end-of-day milkshakes myself when I'm on the road.
So as much as I love ice cream, you'd think I'd be paying a bit closer attention to its actual packaging, but in fact, it was my wife who recently pointed out to me that the "half-gallon" cartons we've been buying lately at the grocery store are, in fact, not half-gallons at all; they contain 1.5 quarts, at the same price they used to charge for a half-gallon. That's a nice little unannounced price hike of 25%. All these months, when I've been blithely scooping out a bowl of mint chocolate chip or butter pecan ice cream, I failed to notice that we've been paying more for less.
Well, the Wall Street Journal has noticed the same thing, too, and today's page one story offers even more details on how consumers are belatedly discovering that their dollars are buying a whole lot less cereal, cheese, margarine, mayonnaise and, of course, ice cream than they used to. This news is making me so upset that I think I'll have to go have myself a milkshake to calm down.