20 June 2009

Open Letter to the Bahlsen Company

Posted in food at 10:21 pm by Tricia

Dear Bahlsen,

I am a big fan of your Afrika dark chocolate cookies (or rather, those delicate slices of wafer enrobed in dark continental chocolate). In fact, I once contributed some to a chocolate-lovers gift basket with a note that they were “the world’s best chocolate cookie, bar none.” I truly believe this. And the packaging was so simple – chocolate cookie squares, packed side by side, in a little cardboard tray that slides out of the cubic outer box. Lovely. Elegant!

Old Afrika box, found online. Notice end of box is square!

old Afrika box, product shot from web

But when i went to buy a box the other day, I noticed something had changed. Not just the picture (which had changed on the old box a while back), but the shape of the box. It was strangely bigger – unusual in the current economic climate! But as soon as I picked it up, I heard a little rattle inside that revealed the presence of inner plastic packaging. “Feh!” I thought. “They added extra packaging, I bet there are fewer cookies inside.” And while I can’t be positive, I think the weight has decreased and there are fewer cookies inside.

Newly purchased Afrika box. Notice end of box is no longer square!

Newly purchased Afrika box. Notice end of box is no longer square!

Now I shouldn’t begrudge you the need to cut a few corners. But honestly, did you think we would be fooled? I don’t have any old packages so I can’t compare the weights. But even if I’m wrong on that point, at a time when companies right and left are bragging about their eco-consciousness, did it really make sense to add excess packaging? Silly, that’s what it was. And the part of my brain that sat through a very basic operations research workshop eons ago suspects this costs more than what you were doing before. Sigh.

Recently purchased box. Notice excessive inner packaging.

Recently purchased box. Notice excessive inner packaging.

Oh well, at least they taste the same (which, I still concede, is fabulous).

World's best chocolate enrobed wafer slices, bar none!

World's best chocolate enrobed wafer slices, bar none!



  1. L said,

    Ugh, that is A LOT of extra plastic packaging. Bummer.

    What’s the weight on the new box? Because the photo of the square box shows 125g.

  2. L said,

    PS. I do hope you did write to the company.

  3. Tricia said,

    I haven’t written yet, but I might just do it. (I was halfway hoping to get an unexpected reply from them on my blog, like your restaurant rant generated!) I don’t have the box with me, but I have this vague notion it’s still 125g. So maybe they didn’t decrease the amount of cookies.

  4. Michele T said,

    I haven’t seen this brand of cookies around here, but they could be around, I just don’t make it to grocery stores besides TJs and WF’s that often. But shortly after reading your post we were in CT and went to the grocery store there to pick up a few things. I found the brand, but not the particular cookies. We got the type that had a “biscuit” with dark chocolate on top and they were very good. The when in SF last week we found these cookies at a little market near our hotel that we were buying water (and wine) from. So before we left A. bought a box to bring home. We tried them last night (and yes, they were in the plastic package) and yum! BTW the package said 4.6 oz. so they are actually .2 oz more than the old package, at least the one in the picture.

  5. Tricia said,

    Michele, how funny that you hunted them down. Or at least were made aware of them. Glad you weren’t disappointed!

    I did notice (after my post) the 4.4 oz vs 4.6 oz, but I don’t think there are more cookies. It’s either the same amount (32) or they’ve changed their conversion calculation (I think both are 125 g) or they’re counting the weight of the packaging! (which isn’t supposed to happen as far as I know, but I do tend to lean towards the conspiracy theorists on some of these things :^).

    Maybe I need to buy a box tomorrow (the store where I buy them is near my office), all in the name of research of course!

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