Serving Size: 4 grapes

You can pick up a box or bag of some arbitrary food product, and it’ll have the nice little standardized nutrition information box on it somewhere. (ObCanada: do you have these things up there? Are they similar to ours?)

My question is: how do they decide what a “serving” is? They always seem woefully small to me. I’m a small guy - 5’5-ish, of slight build. And when the breakfast cereal box says 9 servings, I usually get 3, tops. Similar for most food products - usually a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio. I don’t think I’m a really huge eater!

And a related question: is it my imagination, or has this changed sometime in the past 10 or sp years for soda? I have a dim recollection that there used to be like 2 servings in a can of soda. But I don’t know if my brain is just inventing things here - was that really the case, or has my memory gone wonky? I just checked a few new soda cans I have here, and they all say 1 serving per can. When did it change, and why? I would guess it was some sort of mandated realism, since people mostly drank the whole can? And if so, why hasn’t the same realism been applied to foods?

peas on earth

I have discovered that the FDA has an absolutely massive web site which tells you more than you ever wanted to know. It’s at if you want to explore on your own.

I haven’t tracked everything down yet, but the relevent information seems to be here. This is the food nutrition labeling book. There is a large section on Serving Size. The relevent parts for your question are:

This is why soft drinks are now one serving per container instead of two. The information is dated 1993, so the rules may have changed at that time; before that the rules may have let them use two servings. I know this was done originally to make the calorie counts on diet drinks look smaller. (Calorie counts are rounded off to the nearest 5 so a one serving can with 4 calories would have to claim 5 calories; a two (2 calorie) serving can could claim zero calories per serving.)

As for the grapes, the appropriate parts are


I haven’t tracked down the CFR references above to see what they say, but it looks like there is a table that says what the serving size is for a particular product. Apparently the table says a serving for grapes is four. How they arrived at that number I don’t know.

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I also have noticed that when most boxes of pancake mix give directions for “4-6 pancakes”, they must mean pancakes about the width of a hockey puck.

“they must mean pancakes about the width of a hockey puck.”

“Silver dollar” pancakes. My dad used to make them. Small and thin, about the size of a silver dollar. A lot more trouble to cook, but they were great. Soak 'em in maple syrup, put a dab of butter or sausage on, fold in half and stick in your mouth. Yum.
Oh, sreving size. I think they do that to make you feel guilty about eating 3-4 servings. It works for some people, so I guess it’s a good thing.

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Thanks for the link, tanstaafl - I will check it out!

peas on earth

FOUR grapes? It is utterly impossible for me to eat four grapes and stop. More like forty :wink:

My mom asked the same question about “serving sizes” to some of her friends at work. It was a slow night, and she started reading the nutritional info on a bag of microwave popcorn, and read something very interesting. She asked all of her friends how many servings they thought were in a bag of the popcorn. They all said one. According to the bag, though, it’s four. The general consensus, though, was that IT IS SO one serving, because we’ll be doggoned if we’re sharing our popcorn with four people. :slight_smile: