Since getting back to New York last weekend, I’ve been poking around NYC supermarkets and taking notes for my research project. So far, I’ve observed a lot more condiments in NYC stores than I did in Florence. We Americans sure do love our discretionary (and “hidden”) calories…

Another thing I’ve seen a lot of here is single-serving ice cream cups. A few years ago, it was a big deal when the 100-calories packs of cookies and chips (or “hun-cal” packs as I’ve heard them called) hit the shelves, and I wonder whether I’m just late to the boat on this one or if there actually are suddenly a lot of little ice cream cups available.

dsc02670 - Single-Serving Ice Cream CupsFrom a financial standpoint, I’m not a huge fan of these, and it’s a bummer how much extra packaging gets tossed into the garbage. However, I think they can be very helpful for people trying to stick to a diet plan. It’s a little easier for someone to just learn how to eat one of those than it is for them to learn what a serving size looks like and to develop the willpower to serve themselves that small amount. They’re also super-cute and look delicious. Check out these Skinny-Cow Cups. Some other companies like Edy’s and Hagen Daas have been getting in on the act too.

That said, I’m not so sure how much the consumer really learns from these kinds of products. Is this doing much to deal with the fact that Americans have a habit of eating in “units” (example: drinking the whole 20-ounce soda even though it’s 2.5 servings)? Will this help show people what a serving looks like or just keep them from doing more damage to their health? I don’t mean to sound all doom and gloom about freaking ice cream, but it gets the wheels turning in my head.

Overall, I don’t have a problem with these single-serving products, and I think they could make for a nice little treat now and then as well as an option for an individual with portion control issues. Still, I worry that we’re not doing enough to educate the public about nutrition.

I’m curious to hear someone else’s thoughts on this, though. I’m just one person. What do you guys think?

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