Small Sweets: What's the Big Deal?

With Halloween just behind us, chances are you've got some mini Halloween candy lying around the house. Maybe a Sugar Daddy or two or some York Peppermint Patties. Also if you're anything like me, you find it significantly easier and less guilt-inducing to eat a few mini candy bars than one "normal" sized candy bar.

In a recent piece for The New York Times, Julia Moskin reports that the small sweets are taking the world by storm. When staring down a full size cupcake for $3.50 and a mini cupcake that's 1/5 of the weight but still costing $1, many will now go the mini route. Why?

Economics The economics of the decision are interesting because, in the big picture of things, you're not really saving money by ordering a mini cupcake; mathematically speaking, you're getting 1/5 of the cupcake for 1/3 of the price.

Calories: Sure, for those folks watching their weight, cholesterol or blood sugar, mini treats are a good way to be able to indulge without going overboard.

Joy: In the article, writer Ingrid Fetell is quoted saying that "universally small things evoke childhood and imply abundance: the sight of six tiny chocolate bars makes us happier than one giant chocolate bar...simply because there are more of them." We feel like we have more options, more choices--like the cupcake case is our oyster!

Psychology: This one rings true for me in regards to eating mini candy bars but shunning the thought of a full-size Snickers. You'd think that having to unwrap each piece individually would send a message to your brain about quantity, but it really doesn't. In her article, Moskin quotes Cornell professor, Brian Wansink, as saying "when eating small foods, people are much more likely to lose track of quantities."

Read the full article: Small Wonders at The New York Times

So sure this appears to be yet another trend in the sense that bakeries are capitalizing on the sudden interest for smaller sweets and producers of packaged foods are making small bags of cookies and crackers based on calorie counts. But maybe it's more than just a trend: maybe we're noticing a real shift here in portion sizes. Don't you think that the more and more we start seeing smaller desserts available in our local bakeries and coffee shops, the bigger and bigger the alternatives are going to look? Maybe, for the sake of our health and pocketbooks, this trend is actually worth following until the very end.

Related: Eating at the Office: What's in Your Snack Drawer?

(Image: Flickr member Creative Abubot licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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Megan is a freelance writer, recipe developer and cookbook writer. Her first book, Whole-Grain Mornings, (Ten Speed Press) is available in bookstores nationwide. Megan also owns the Seattle-based artisan cereal company, Marge Granola.