If you browse the breakfast aisle at your local grocery store, you’ll find two varieties of Quaker’s Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal: the regular kind and the “Lower Sugar” recipe. The packaging for the latter announces that it contains “35 percent less sugar than our Regular Flavor” — but each of the single-portion packages in the box includes a 28 percent smaller serving.
The “Lower Sugar” variety also, not surprisingly, has fewer calories than the original version — though the packaging does specify that the oatmeal is “not a low-calorie food.”
The uproar erupted due to a realization that the two oatmeal boxes were being sold for the same price. However, one “diet-friendly” version just contained fewer oats.
One particularly math-savvy Reddit user defended Quaker, commenting, “If you look at the actual sugar count, it’s half the sugar of the larger packet, so the packet size has been taken into account.” Touché, careful reader. After deliberation and debate, the commenters’ investigative journalism uncovered that Quaker made up for the reduction in sugar with sucralose, an artificial sweeter that has been linked to some cancers and is found in diet soda. "If they removed 6 grams of sugar, then you expect the product to weigh approximately 6 grams less. If you don't, then you're a fool," explained another careful comment.
Additionally, the serving size was still significantly reduced — without reducing the price. Essentially, consumers are paying for portion control, artificial sweetener, and a label that makes them feel better about their sugary breakfast.
“If you really want less sugar try the new maple banana flavor,” advised one Reddit commenter. Or, to stay on the safe side and avoid misleading marketing altogether, you could make your own healthy, delicious bowl of oatmeal.