When is one pound actually two?

The deli counter has three plastic containers on top as samples sizes, marked 1/2 lb, 1 lb, 2 lb. So if you want the middle quantity, what do you say?

I wanted the 1 lb size of cole slaw, so asked for “one pound”. When she handed me the filled container, it was the largest size, so I said I only wanted one pound, not two. She said, “Oh, cole slaw is light, so we use the large container for one pound.”

So who was right? Was I in error to ask for one pound? Should the customer take into consideration the density of the deli item before requesting a quantity?

Should this thread be in Cafe Society? Two Cafe Societies?


Had you asked for a pound of Mashed Potatoes you would have gotten the appropriate container.

I think you should have specified a “one pound containerful” or “the one pound container size” rather than “one pound.” The container is just an estimate of how much one might get, to keep people from saying “well, how much do I get in one pound” quite so often.

Well, yes, if you’re going to order in weight, you should get the weight requested. If you want the specific size, say, “I’d like this size coleslaw” and point to the container on the counter.

I think it’s rather strange that they label their containers like that, although I understand they must get asked a lot. But there are such varied densities on food at a deli, it seems like their examples would only work for a fraction of the actual orders.

I worked at a deli counter for a while. When a customer asked for something by weight, we would try to give him or her as close to that weight of product as possible, measuring it out on an electronic scale. The scale would also print a stick-on label showing both the weight and the price.

I think you’re both in the wrong here: you for ordering in pounds when you really wanted a certain volume, and the deli for suggesting that a certain volume equals a certain weight when it doesn’t.

I guess I have been spoiled by the two supermarkets where I usually shop, the only ones within 60 miles. The experience regaled above was at another location that I rarely go to.

I always wondered how a one pound container could be said to have one pound of whatever deli item was ordered; surely they can’t all be the same density. I think it would be better if they called the container sizes #1, 2 and 3 or red, green and blue. Then there could be no confusion if you said “a number 2 container of potato salad”. Or even a pint, quart or gallon. Metric? We don’t need no stinkin’ metrics!

Here, we simply have small, medium or large. We don’t have “This container for such-and-such grams” because each deli item is different. I thought what the OP described was odd, too. – that would only work if coleslaw was the only thing they sold.

At my local deli, meats and cheeses and such are sold by weight and they are sliced off the big piece and measured on a very fancy digital scale before being wrapped up and given to you. Cole slaw and mashed potatoes and whatnot are sold by volume in a variety of containers ranging from diminutive to voluminous.

Here items sold at the deli counter range from the dense heavy (sliced meat or cheese) to the light, (macaroni salads). The dispay containers are just a rough guideline. I have to agree with Friedo ** and Ice Wolf**. The containers are just eye wash. If I want some roast beast , some turkey, a bit of salami, and a smattering of ham, and a little cheese, (This is Wisconsin, eating a sub without cheese is a felony) for some subs for me and the boys to watch the game, I watch them slice it and say that is about right! What the heck were you thinking buying cole slaw anyway? Put the money into the meat! Just kidding on that last part. Coleslaw and potatoe salad are so popular they have pre-packaged stuff in the cooler. and from that you can guess what volume will equal what wieght. after that, how much do you need? You are on your own. I figure none. More salami.

When it’s ajar.

Well, the other day I ordered three ounces of proscuitto at the deli and the girl gave me 0.3 pounds. One ounce is not 0.1 pound! She also asked me if I wanted it in one slice. I think she must have been new.

Moving thread from IMHO to Deli Society.

If you wanted the one-pint container, you could have just asked for “one pint”. It’s only a one-pound container if it’s full of water, or something with the same density.

What did the electronic scale label say?
If it said 1 pound (give or take a reasonable amount) then you got exactly what you asked for. Apparently the what you asked for was not what you wanted, and the clerk left their crystal ball at home that day.
If you wanted the middle sized container, you should have pointed at it and said this size of cole slaw.