## A Couple Food-Related Fails

by

I’m a sucker for a gimmick, particularly food gimmicks.  I’ve tried just about every flavor of Mountain Dew, as well as every variety of Reese’s peanut butter whatevers.  So when Starbucks released their new VIA instant coffee, I lined up with everyone else to take the taste test.  (It’s not bad, if you like Starbucks coffee.)

As a reward for tasting the coffee, I got a coupon for \$1.00 off any VIA purchase.  I then heard the barista explaining to another customer that with the coupon, the 3-pack was only \$2 (actually \$1.95), but the 12-pack was a better deal.  So I looked at the price of the 12-pack: \$9.95, or \$8.95 with the coupon.  And then I did a quick calculation in my head, and discovered that no, the 12-pack isn’t a better deal after all.  With the coupon.  Of course, it is a better deal without the coupon, and I’m sure that’s what she meant, so maybe this isn’t a FAIL, but it’s still a fail.

Next up, however, is definitely a FAIL.  The following was spotted at my local Target store, where Halloween candy is on sale right next to the Christmas decorations:

Can anyone figure out where this number came from?  The box weighs something like 38 ounces (so it’s about \$4.21 per pound).  If it really were \$159.84 per pound, a Butterfinger (2 oz) would cost \$20.  I think I’d frame it instead of eating it.

### 8 Responses to “A Couple Food-Related Fails”

1. Alison Says:

159.84 = 160 – 0.16 = 16(10 – 0.01), so somewhere, someone thinks that the 9.99 price is for a single ounce of product and multiplying by 16 to find the per pound unit price.

2. Barry Leiba Says:

Well, 159.84 / 9.99 == 16. So it looks like someone coded the 9.99 as the price for one ounce, rather than as the price for 20 bars, or for 38 ounces, or whatever. Input error, most likely.

3. Batman Says:

Thanks Alison and Barry! I agree that it was probably input error, maybe with a sprinkling of unit price confusion. Remember students: always check your answers to see if they make sense.

(I’m reminded of a “business math” class I taught in grad school, where every semester I’d get answers suggesting that the monthly payment on a 5 year, \$20,000 loan is \$0.72, or that in order to draw \$30,000/year from your retirement account for 25 years, you’d need to save \$80 billion.)

4. Barry Leiba Says:

Hm. Please delete that second comment that’s purportedly from me. It’s not; it’s spam. Look at the link under my name, and note that my photo is missing.

I haven’t seen that technique before. Interesting.

• Batman Says:

Done. I haven’t seen that tactic before, either. What’s more, I never got a request to approve it – it just went through. (Maybe because it used your name?)

5. Míquei Says:

Actually, it’s better to buy the 12-pack…
Without the coupon, he 3-pack would cost 2.95, so 4 of them would be 11,80… With the discount, 10,80.
You calculated as if there were four coupons for buying four 3-pack and only one for the 12 pack.

• Batman Says:

I was calculating the price per pack, so the 3-pack with the coupon gives a unit price of \$0.65/pack, while the 12-pack with the coupon is \$0.746/pack. But you’re right that you would need 4 coupons to buy 12 packs at that price.

6. Andrew Says:

\$9.99 x 16 = \$159.84

Meaning, if you wanted to buy the entire stock of that product, it would cost you that much, since there’s 16 items in the pallet for \$9.99 each. It’s for bulk buyers and it’s on everything at Target. It has nothing to do with the \$ per pound.