Why can’t we also have 8-oz cups at self-serve frozen yogurt shops?

ee-frozenYogurtI’ve had it with this crazy portion distortion  at self-serve frozen yogurt shops —  shops that seem to be opening at a fast and furious pace.  They all have gargantuan 16 ounce cups, waiting to be filled.   The popularity of  frozen yogurt appears to go hand in hand with our increased awareness and desire to make healthier choices.

But wait a second – what about having too much of a good thing? It certainly promotes overeating and weight gain.

So instead of only having 16-oz cups, why not provide a more reasonable, but still large,  8-oz ones alongside?

Well, there’s a simple answer as to why they don’t:  fat chance if you have an enormous bowl that you’ll have a sensible serving. There’s plenty of research pointing to the impact of large dishes on serving sizes.  Considering that you pay   by the weight of  the cup, smaller ones would take a big bite out of the bottom line of these companies. Getting you to serve yourself more than you intended fatten their wallets – and you too!

Brian Wansink is the king of research looking at mindless eating. He has investigated the impact of a host of factors which influence how much we eat. And dish  size is a big one.

Check out his reasoning on having smaller dishes.

Take the one half cup serving you might have intended to get and as you hold down the lever that controls how much yogurt comes out, it likely looks mighty skimpy indeed.

Let me tell you of my experience last week.

Our two granddaughters, aged six and three, wanted to go to Yogurty’s.  So off the four of us went.  My husband was helping Leila, the younger one with her  yogurt while I helped  Julia, my older granddaughter make her choices.   Now because of the portion distortion issue which irks me to no end, I made sure that Julia’s cup was only about a quarter full. My husband, on the other hand, who didn’t really notice the size of the cup, thought he was getting the right amount by helping Leila to only fill up half her cup. That’s double the amount listed by  the company’s nutrition information for a serving.

When Julia saw Leila’s cup, her first reaction was typical of a sibling. “That’s no fair”  she said as she looked at what she thought was a very meagre serving. I quietly asked my husband about  why he had gotten  Leila such a large amount and he commented that he had only filled it half way.

At the popular U.S. chain, Pinkberry, which has only a few Canadian locations out west,  they offer a mini which is less than 4 ounces and a small, medium and large (all smaller than the self-serve cups) through to a take home container (just over one and a half times the single serve cups).

When you look at the nutrition information online,  the chain Menchies does provide a  detailed   nutrition analysis for the various flavours-  but all for only  1/2 cup/ 4 fl.oz. The info on the toppings is nowhere to be found  on the website.

Yogurty’s website gives some numbers – calories, carbohydrate and protein – but nowhere does it mention the portion size.

How convenient.

Then there are the toppings. Are you going to bypass the self-serve brownie bits, peanut butter chips or cheese cake bites or just sprinkle on a little of each? After all, it’s right in front of you as you make your way to the cashier. And how much is just a little sprinkle when you look at the bowl?

When you do the math, you might be a little shell shocked at what you are really consuming. Let’s say you have a bare, no toppings, Wild Blackberry flavour at Menchies and you only fill it up just over three quarters full. You’ll end up with about 400 calories.

You could have had two scoops of Baskin Robbins’ Oreo® Nutty Salted Caramel Ice Cream on a regular cone and still come out ahead in terms of calories. True there’s more fat in the ice cream but consuming an excess of calories, especially when you think you’re choosing a smarter option, doesn’t help your girth control practices. Add some decadent toppings, you’re even more over the top.

Isn’t it time these chains provided smaller cups? It’s time we asked  for them.


Do you agree or disagree with the above? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Categories: Rosie's Rants

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

Get Enlightened Eater in your inbox

Subscribe to get the latest nutrition news, fresh recipes and more!

13 Comments on “Why can’t we also have 8-oz cups at self-serve frozen yogurt shops?”

  1. Phil Parker
    August 12, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Maybe it’s time to just not eat there?

    • August 12, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

      I agree that companies who don’t act in the best interest of our health don’t deserve our patronage. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the issue. And even those who are may end up as customers for one reason or another. For me, it was my granddaughters who asked to go and since they have asked many times and we were driving by, we agreed to go. But the experience simply aggravated me so much that it resulted in this post.

      If they would simply put out 8 oz cups along with their oversized ones, it would show good faith and corporate responsibility on their part.

  2. Sara
    August 12, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    One thing to consider is that the self-serve cups are 16 oz. by VOLUME and not by weight, obviously.

    Therefore, when you say that if you fill up your cup three-quarters of the way, you’re getting 3 times the serving size, that’s not actually true. The weight of the yogurt is very different from the volume.

    And either way, if you can’t control yourself and how much you can/should eat, that’s a whole other problem. Understandable if you’re a child, but a grown adult should have a little more self-control if it’s an issue for you.

    • August 12, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      Thanks for your comments, Sara. Yes, I do realize that the cups are 16 fluid oz which means that the cups are measured by volume. The nutrition information is also provided by the same measure – 4 fluid oz. So the cups are providing four times the amount listed on the companies’ websites. I did not notice any signs in the stores stating this discrepancy between cup size and nutrition information portions.

      And yes, a grown adult should exhibit self-control but there are a few issues to consider. One is that most customers have no idea how large those cups are. Secondly, research shows that large cups/plates promote overeating. So I don’t think it’s so much about self-control but about perception of portions. The four fluid oz serving looks downright skimpy! Please watch the Brian Wansink video I posted and you will see what I mean.

      I think that providing 8 fluid oz cups would provide customers with an opportunity to more easily stop the flow of yogurt at a more reasonable serving size if they wish to do so.

  3. February 20, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    I have self serve frozen yogurt shop in NY. I have 8 oz cups in my shop, the problem with that size is, if the customer put topping on the yogurt most of it ends of the floor, and it is an expenses that can’t be recoverd.
    Also, it is self service, customer can take as little or as much as he or she wish.

    • February 20, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

      Thanks for providing your perspective, Benny, but 8-oz cups are certainly better than 16-oz from a portion perspective. The problem is that research shows that whatever the size, we will tend to fill the cup up. Six ounces in your cups will look pretty substantial while in a 16-oz one, the portion will look really meager!

      I think it may be a problem with the self-serve. At yogurt shops where you pay for a certain amount, the cup size leaves room for toppings.

      But whatever you do, don’t switch to bigger cups- you’ll still have plenty of toppings on the floor!

  4. July 9, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more Rosie. The company can use this as a positive marketing ploy to help people eat better!

    • July 9, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

      Wouldn’t that be great, Francy? One company said they would look at the issue – ha! They are doing nothing. I wish that Pinkberry had more shops in Canada. They make it easy for consumers to avoid the portion distortion trap.

      • July 9, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

        Right Rosie! I guess we need to all keep banging the gong to help consumers.

  5. July 9, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    For sure, Francy! Keep up your great efforts!

  6. July 10, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

    I would take real Baskin Robbins ice cream over the self-serve yogurt any day. So much more satisfying and less calories. The public isn’t aware of all the extra calories they’re adding with self-serve in large cups, and yogurt is trendy…

  7. Luisa S. Williams
    November 1, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

    Dear author…great article….if you were the manager at a yogurt shop…what would you offer as far as yogurt cups…how many sizes total (like 1,2,3) and how many oz for each?

    • December 5, 2016 at 9:03 pm #

      Great question, Luisa! I would follow Pinkberry’s lead as I think they offer a variety of portion sizes – a mini which is under 1/2 cup, small (under 3/4 cup), medium (about 1 1/4 cups) and a large. I think the larger sizes might be best shared. But the important thing is that they’re fixed portions with cups that don’t fool you into buying large portions. This is what happens in the self-serve shops.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: