Deception In the Laundry Room

30 Jan

If you read Consumer Reports

You are probably familiar with their back page feature “Selling It.” Readers send in examples of the excesses, mistakes and deceptions of advertisers and manufacturers. For example:

  • A bottle of aspirin than is half full of cotton.
  • Displaying an American flag prominently on the label then on the back in small print, “made in China”
  • A bottle of household cleaner that says in large friendly letters, “45% more OZ.” and below that slightly smaller “Than 22 oz. size.” [DOH!]



You just want to give a short sharp shock to whoever is responsible.

Several years ago Consumer Reports rated laundry detergents. They said that Tide (the powder, not the liquid) was a good deal. It cleaned everything well and was a reasonably priced. So mom was right after all! I started using Tide.

A year or two later I noticed a curious thing upon opening a new box of Tide. The scoop that came with the new box was a little bigger than the scoop that was in the last box. I used some mild profanity and made a note (that I never followed up on) to write Consumer Reports some day with the hopes of getting this published in the “Selling It.” section. A little vicarious revenge. Something to make me feel like I was actually Sticking It to The Man.

Yes I am often delusional, read more of this web site and you will note that is pretty obvious. Fortunately I enjoy my delusions.

I go to the store today. I need some painkillers and a few other things. A box of Tide is on the list. Dropping off the Tide in the laundry room I notice the (now years) old scoop that I still use. I crack open the new box and compare sizes. Yup still bigger.


The old scoop (left) looks a bit smaller than the brand new one. let’s see how much smaller… (sick days are great!)

Old Scoop New Scoop Change
“Med Load” 1/3 cup “1” 1/2 cup +50%
“Large Load” 1/2 cup “2” 3/4 cup +50%
“Heavy Soil” (full cup) ~2/3 cup (full cup) 7/8 cup +30%


The old cup has three marks labeled as above.

The new cup has only the rather cryptic “1” and “2” labels and nothing for a full cup.

The ‘Mysterious Brown Liquid’ is filled to “Large Load” and “2” respectively.

Looks can be deceiving. While the old cup doesn’t “seem” to be substantially bigger adding half again to the measuring cup’s graduations seems like a lot.

Define “a lot.”

OK, imagine, if you will, a Roman Coliseum. Our hero Brian of Nazareth is selling “rich imperialist tit bits” to the spectators when he happens upon the Peoples Front of Judea.

REG: […] We’re the People’s Front of Judea! […]

BRIAN: Can I… join your group?

REG: No. Piss off.

BRIAN: I didn’t want to sell this stuff. It’s only a job. I hate the Romans as much as anybody.

PEOPLE’S FRONT OF JUDEA: Shhhh. Shhhh. Shhh. Shh. Shhhh.

JUDITH: Are you sure?

BRIAN: Oh, dead sure. I hate the Romans already.

REG: Listen. If you really wanted to join the P.F.J., you’d have to really hate the Romans.

BRIAN: I do!

REG: Oh, yeah? How much?

BRIAN: A lot!

REG: Right. You’re in. […]

(no doubt this dialog is copyright by Python, Monty {yadda yadda yadda])

So what is all this leading to? Other than a way to kill part of an afternoon lying on my back recovering from an overly strenuous riding lesson last night. (It was a newish -somewhat uncooperative- horse.) Perhaps Proctor and Gamble decided people weren’t using the stuff fast enough?

Of course I am merely speculating here. I am sure there are excellent business and scientific reasons for increasing the size of the cup. No doubt having to do with things like optimum cleaning power. Presumably research into whether or not people were using the proper amount on a per load basis could also have figured into this, no doubt, necessary change.

And those of you thinking the cup size change was Proctor And Gamble being thieving money grubbing bastards should be ashamed of yourselves.



Originally posted before I added WordPress to this site. Published date is approximate.


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