What’s up with those prepackaged 100 calorie snacks companies sell? Why not just save money and packaging materials and count out servings yourself?
Did you think we were going to dodge this issue? Of course not. We at 100CalorieSnacks.net are all about the truth. And in this case, the answer is a hearty, “No duh.” Of course it would be cheaper, and use fewer resources, to count up serving sizes on your own. But we are living in a busy, distracted, frazzled society and if counting calories and losing weight and all that were easy, there wouldn’t be an obesity epidemic and we wouldn’t be spending big bucks on eating out when we could be packing our own, healthful lunches. The truth is, some people like the ease of grabbing a pack of pre-counted snacks. (They’re the perfect serving size for kids, too.) Others find it hard to stop eating when they reach the serving size noted on the standard- or economy-size box. In many cases, 100 calorie packages and similar commercial products are exactly what some consumers need to jump-start better eating habits. Whenever we mention or review a prepackaged 100 calorie snack on this site, we’ll try our best to let you know if the snacks come in a larger size, and how many comprise the prepackaged pack so you can whip out the snack-size sandwich bags and make your own “packs” at home. Yes, you’re usually paying more when you buy 100 calorie packs—between 16 and 279 percent more, according to an August 2007 study by Center for Science in the Public Interest. But for many busy families, it’s worth the premium price.

Are the 100 calorie packs the same product as found in the company’s full-size containers?
Sometimes, but not always. For example, Nabisco, which is owned by Kraft, developed special recipes for products such as its 100-Calorie Packs of Oreo Thin Crisps. Some companies scale down their traditional treats so it feels like you’re getting more in your serving. Hostess cuts the calories down in its 100 calorie packs, and adds fiber—which, as Weight Watchers members know, cuts down on Points.

What’s the history of prepackaged 100 calorie snacks?
Kraft is credited with popularizing the trend of snacks in 100 calorie packages, back in 2004. Within three years, sales of 100-calorie pages of crackers, chips, cookies and candy totaled more than $200 million per year, according to a July 7, 2007 report in the New York Times. Sales grew 28 percent in one year alone, according to a research firm Information Resources Inc.
Frito-Lay, Pepperidge Farm, Hershey, Nabisco and others have joined the 100 calories club, and the competition has resulted in even-stronger marketing for the snack packs.
Some call the 100 calorie pack sensation a fad, while others consider it a welcome backlash to the “supersize” mentality that preceded it. Nutrition experts embrace portion control, yet caution consumers that just because something is 100 calories doesn’t necessarily make it good for you.
Today, everything from M&Ms to yogurt to Hostess cupcakes can be found in prepackaged 100 calorie servings. (Coke is now promoting its short, 8-ounce cans as 100 calories as well.) And, just as 5-Minute Abs gave 7-Minute Abs a run for its money, a new generation of 90-, 80- and even 60-calorie prepackaged snacks are already catching consumers’ eyes.

Will 100 calorie snack packs help me lose weight?
That depends. Do you have a hard time counting calories, or stopping at one serving of a snack? If so, 100 calorie snacks may be your ticket to portion control. And once you’ve made a “lifestyle change” when it comes to your eating habits, you can stick with the prepackaged packs for convenience, or start counting out portions yourself.
If you crave, say, Hostess Cupcakes, you can feed your fix without feeling tempted to chow down on an entire cake. The effect is somewhat psychological.
Basically, 100 calories packs can help keep you on track though convenience and portion control. Just don’t confuse eating “100 calories” with good nutrition. Snacks, like mileage, may vary.

Why is “100-calorie” hyphenated in your banner but nowhere else on the site?
Because we’re huge grammar nerds and it’s a compound modifier. But we suspect people are plugging the term into search engines without the hyphen. And as long as we’re on the topic of grammar, we should probably be saying “100 calories or fewer,” but we’ll stick with “or less” for now.

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