The Hidden Secret of Shreddies

Another day, another run.  Tonight was an easy 5 miles to shake out any stiffness from Sunday’s 10 miler.  The run was good – relatively relaxed but still achieved 9 minute miles – and as has become my post-run tradition, I checked my feedback from adidas miCoach, stretched, showered and then had a nice cold half a pint of fruit juice.  Refreshing!  Tonight I felt like I needed something else.  Resisting the chocolate, biscuits and crisps I thought a bowl of cereal would be a healthy option.  But not all is as it seems!

The Wife and I have been paying a little more attention to portion sizes as part of a post-Olympic effort to improve our health and fitness.  It’s not that we eat unhealthily but we wanted to check we weren’t eating too much so we have been reviewing the food manufacturer’s guidance on portion sizes a little more closely on occasions.  And what better occasion that a post-run, healthy energy top up?

Hmmm.

Firstly, I should probably correct my title.  I say “Shreddies” as that is what I call them; they’re actually Waitrose Essential Malted Wheats.  Now I know the difference but apart from the fact that my title wouldn’t have been so snappy, it’s the same as I refer to the Electrolux “Hoover” and if we were still in the 90’s I’d be referring to my non-Sony generic personal cassette tape player as a “Walkman”.  So Nestle, please don’t take offence or umbrage with what I’m about to say about the Waitrose version of your fine, but over-priced breakfast cereal; take it as a compliment that your brand name has become a household colloquialism.

Back to topic: I placed the bowl onto the scales and weighed out the recommended serving of 30g of the “malted wholegrain wheat pillows”.  Excuse me as I LOL; I’ve never noticed they refer to them as pillows!

Here is the result.  For clarity and the avoidance of doubt, the cereal packet is on the left:

30g serving of Waitrose Malted Wheats
The recommended serving (right) of 30g of essential Waitrose malted wheats next to the image on the box (left).

Before I get onto the portion size it’s also worth noting that the spoon I have used, to match as closely as possible to the one on the box, is a teaspoon – not my usual weapon of choice for cereal devouring.

The bowl in use is a relatively deep Denby cereal bowl (thanks to our wedding guests) however th circumference is very close to the bowl on the box.  The portion size is anything but!  To ensure my post-run lack of energy didn’t contribute to any hasty conclusions I decided recklessly doubled the portion size.  I know, hold me back!  Here is the 60g, double portion:

60g serving of Waitrose Malted Wheats
The result of doubling the recommended serving to 60g. Again, in case you can’t tell, real life is on the right.

Now we’re getting closer to the “serving suggestion” on the box but I’m sure you’ll agree that we’re still a way off a match.  At this point my guilt stopped me increasing the portion size so I diverted my investigations.  Maybe the scale of the box photo is different causing an optical illusion of some kind?  Turns out, no:

Checking the scale of the box photo
You will notice a carefully placed “real” pillow of malted wholegrain wheat within the photo of the box: an exact match!

So the photo on the packet shows the “pillows” at actual size which leads me to one of two possible conclusions: either the bowl on the box is not so much of a bowl as a plate or, and this is only conjecture, the amount of pillows used in the cover shoot was “a little” in excess of the recommended serving.

“Surely not!”, I hear you cry.  Well, after eating my 60g, super-size portion I still wasn’t happy that I had an answer.

Now kids, don’t follow my lead here; you should not play with your food.  I, however, am a trained professional so I began counting out the number of pillows that were clearly visible in the box image.  I can confidently count 56 pillows – there are probably a couple more hiding and that doesn’t even count what’s under the surface of the “milk” (that is, of course, if there is anything under it – see my plate theory above!) – which I can confirm weigh a total of 33 grams.

Oh dear!  So if we are to believe the serving suggestion represents the recommended serving then they must have used a plate.  Who eats cereal off of a plate?  Not me.

So are Waitrose suggesting we eat cereal from a plate?  Or are they encouraging us to eat more than the recommended serving by showing a big bowl of malted wheat pillows?  Or are they using 30g as a serving so that the nutritional figures look better?

The only thing I can be sure of is that I can’t be sure of the information provided by food manufacturers.  Please feel free to leave comments with your thoughts or perhaps highlight other examples of conflicting “serving suggestions” and recommended portion sizes.

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7 thoughts on “The Hidden Secret of Shreddies”

  1. These are foul, so bad that no one in my house will touch them, a really odd taste that gets worse as you go along. Asda and Sainsbury’s do own brand versions that are perfectly good and much cheaper than brand shreddies, but this one from waitrose is unusually nasty. Avoid.

    1. I thought hard before approving your post but in fairness I felt it should be there – I’m not a Waitrose employee or spokesperson of their goods. What I will say is that I struggle to believe your point of view as I wouldn’t be able to tell any difference between these or the Nestle version. I’d say the same for the Sainsbury’s version too. Perhaps my pallet is not as refined as that of you and your household. Thanks for commenting.

  2. A while ago I started measuring cereal portion sizes and realised that the “recommended” portion was less than we would normally eat even though I don’t think we ever have particularly huge portions. I think as you suggest it’s down to trying to make the nutritional figures look better (and also probably historical from when bowls were much smaller)!
    On the plus side your blog has alerted me to an alternative to Nestlé Shreddies having stopped buying Nestlé products due to their policy of giving powdered milk to third world mothers.

  3. Shreddies are my cereal of choice too, although mine tend to be of the Tescos variety and enjoyed with skimmed milk (probably too much by all accounts) and a banana. I definitely have more than the recommended amount. Perhaps this is where I am going wrong more generally.

  4. Great article 🙂 i love shreddies, but didn’t realize those portion sizes. In the i will future will watch out.

  5. I always have this problem with my quaker oats granola the 45g serving is a joke, I may as well not bother, so I double that up too. The packets must have 4 or 5 times the serving pictured, I guess it makes the packaging more appealing

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