Ohio senator calls out companies for ‘shrinkflation’

(The Hill) – Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, called out companies for “shrinkflation” Monday after Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster expressed frustration with the practice in a social media post.

“Me hate shrinkflation! Me cookies are getting smaller,” Cookie Monster wrote in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Brown, who serves as the chair of the Senate Banking Committee, agreed with the fuzzy blue Sesame Street character and slammed companies for shrinking the size of their products without cutting prices.

“Me too, Cookie Monster,” Brown wrote on X. “Big corporations shrink the size of their products without shrinking their prices, all to pay for CEO bonuses. People in my state of Ohio are fed up — they should get all the cookie they pay for.”

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 13: Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) attends a hearing with the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill on June 13, 2023 in Washington, DC. The committee held the hearing to review “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Semi-Annual Report to Congress.” Photo by Michael A. McCoy/ Getty Images)

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., also replied to Cookie Monster’s post Monday, saying, “I’m on it.”

Both Brown and Casey are bracing for tough reelection races in November. Former President Donald Trump won Ohio in both 2016 and 2020; he won Pennsylvania in 2016 before narrowly losing the state to President Joe Biden four years later.

The White House similarly took aim at “shrinkflation” last month ahead of the Super Bowl, with Biden releasing a video slamming the practice as a “rip-off.”

“Some companies are trying to pull a fast one by shrinking their products little by little and hoping you won’t notice,” Biden said in the video. “Give me a break. The American public is tired of being played for suckers. I’m calling on companies to put a stop to this.”

Americans have expressed frustration as companies have either raised prices or turned to “shrinkflation” in the wake of high inflation.

Inflation, which peaked at a 40-year high of 9.1 percent in June 2022, has steadily eased over the past year and a half, falling to 3.1 percent as of January, as measured by the Labor Department’s consumer price index (CPI).

While smaller sizes might be harder than outright price increases for shoppers to notice, the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes both when calculating the CPI.

Despite the Federal Reserve’s repeated interest rate hikes — which sought to tame inflation — the economy has remained surprisingly resilient, continuing to surpass expectations in jobs created while maintaining an unemployment rate below 4 percent. 

As inflation continues to fall and the U.S. appears to have avoided a widely anticipated recession, many have touted the apparent “soft landing” of the economy. 

However, Biden and Democrats have struggled to change Americans’ largely negative views on the economy.

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