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November 25, 2008

Hey, did you shrink your portions?

November 25. Day 148.

I have a longstanding love affair with Croutons, a place that serves super salads loaded with unhealthy ingredients at astoundingly good prices. A friend introduced me to the Carlsbad location a few years ago, before it popped up all over San Diego, and most recently I've been a regular at the one by my mom's house.


Let me sing of
your $5.45 "Santa Fe"
with its gouda, granny
smith apple, red onion,
corn, and jicama mixed with
romaine. And if it had a
balcony, I would
serenade the Spinach,
whose walnuts, freshly
fried bacon, and straw-
berries are so worth

But at some moment, every small business owner realizes he or she could be charging more for the same product. When it's a restaurant, this switch is especially obvious. Flat Patties, in Boston, traded natural soft burgers for the frozen variety. The result? Yuck. Croutons had earlier downgraded the quality of its panini breads, but I didn't mind since I usually get salad.

Last night it struck me that the containers were smaller. Mr. A and I discussed this privately, checking the current portions against our memories. I figured I could always ask, but saying "Are your portions smaller?" would invite denial or a plea of ignorance.

Instead, I thought I'd treat it as a given, and phrase the question thus:

"Did you make your portions smaller because of the economy, or for some other reason? Just curious."

Yes, I actually waited in line to ask this.

"They're not smaller," the cashier replied.

"Really? It just looks like the containers have shrunk since the last time I was in here."

"No, they didn't..."

"Okay, then maybe I'm extra hungry tonight!" I thought I'd conclude on a friendly note, on the off chance she was telling the truth. Didn't want to seem like I was interrogating her in front of a line of customers.

Gained: Refutation of my theory (or a lie?)
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