Math is powerful.
No one has demonstrated this more frequently and more convincingly than Al Sicherman of the StarTribune. In his Tidbits column, Sicherman keeps tabs on prices and variations of processed foods. A favorite category for him recently has been Oreos. Writing recently on the topic of the new Peppermint Creme Oreos (which he describes as toothpastey), Sicherman says:
All of that is not to say that there is no significant difference between Cool Mint Creme Oreos and Peppermint Creme Oreos: They are the same price on the shelf, but the package of Cool mint Oreos is 15.25 ounces (30 cookies), and that of Peppermint Creme Oreos is 10.5 ounces (20 cookies). So Peppermint Creme Oreos cost 45 percent more per ounce — or 50 percent more per cookie.
Whoomp! There it is! Math, baby!
Gotta love this guy. (But seriously, would it kill the Strib to dispatch a photographer with a camera that has more than 1 megapixel?)
Inspired by his example, I’m prepared to turn up the heat on Nabisco’s Oreo division. Are you ready?
Double Stuf isn’t double stuf.
Let me say that again…DOUBLE STUF IS NOT DOUBLE STUF!
How do I know? Math.
How should we do this? Reductio ad absurdum? Let’s assume it is double stuf. Then, according to Nabisco’s own data (found on the Nutrition Facts), one serving of Oreos is 3 cookies and 160 calories. Double Stuf is 2 cookies and 140 calories.
Let me translate that for you. One serving of regular Oreos has 6 wafers, 3 stufs and 160 calories. Meanwhile one serving of Double Stuf Oreos has 4 wafers, 4 stufs and 140 calories.
That’s hard to compare. So let’s consider two servings of regular Oreos (6 cookies, 12 wafers, 6 stufs, 320 calories) and three servings of Double Stuf (6 cookies, 12 wafers, 12 stufs and 420 calories).
Those Double Stuf Oreos account for 6 additional stufs and 100 additional calories (same number of wafers, remember). We conclude that each stuf is approx. 17 calories. And from this we can conclude that each wafer has approx. 19 calories.
What, you prefer the formal mathematical solution? Fair enough:
Let w be the number calories in a wafer and f be the number of calories in a unit of stuf. Then Nabisco’s calorie claims yield this system of equations:
We can rewrite this equivalently as:
And then solving by combination, we get:
You’re comfortable with that. No problem, right?
Tune in tomorrow for the dénouement.