What I know, what I do…

By: Michael Goldstein, Associate Vice Provost, Healthy Campus Initiative

Everyone has a favorite comfort food.  For me it’s Jelly Belly Sours.  No, not the full array of a zillion Jelly Belly flavors.  I’m Mr. Willpower when it comes to them.  But, just Jelly Belly Sours… that’s a different story.

Now I am pretty well informed about the research on how availability influences the amount we eat.  I know that there are scores of studies showing that, regardless of how hungry we are, if someone offers larger portions, we eat more.  Offer us bigger plates or serving spoons and we will take more and eat more.  And plenty of studies have shown that the enjoyment or satisfaction that we get from a food we love also depends on portion size.  We feel just as satisfied with a small amount as long as there isn’t more around to tempt us.

But back to those Jelly Belly Sours.  If you want them, you have to go to the supermarket where you can find them in little 3.5 ounce bags for about $3.50 or $4.00.  What a rip off.  The whole thing couldn’t cost the international Jelly Belly cartel more than a quarter.  Once I overcome my anger at the price and buy them I usually find that my craving is satisfied after one or two hands full; leaving the rest for another day.  But here on campus it’s a different story. The candy shop in Ackerman Union has a huge, clear canister filled with Jelly Belly Sours, and I have the “freedom” to take the exact amount I want.  I control the lever that sends them spilling into the big bag they give you.  I know how just much I need to feel satisfied and that’s what I take.  For the past few visits, I’ve kept my receipts and guess what?  Each and every time I wind up buying a good deal more than 3.5 ounces; sometimes a lot more.  Well, at least I must be lots happier with so much more of my favorite snack.  Not really. In fact, it usually turns out that all I can think about when those final precious beans enter my mouth is that huge, beautiful canister at the store.  I say to myself, “If I’d only held the lever down a few more seconds I‘d have some more, and that would be what I really need to satisfy myself.”

Of course, I’m strongly in favor of “freedom of choice” when it comes to most everything, especially Jelly Belly Sours.  But then, again…

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