Smaller Appetites

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Million-Calorie Difference: One man. One cookie. And one million calories saved. This is the story of how Dan Gorman, a foodservice director in one US school, made a small portion change that added up to an impressive achievement.


Person holding cookie

A couple of years ago, we had 70g, 310-calorie cookie that we baked from a dough. Children could purchase the cookie as a snack every day, and on average, we sold about 30 cookies per day. Using the same dough, we switched to a 28g cookie that has 110 calories.

Some people thought the kids would just buy two or three cookies. We didn’t do anything to prevent that, but what we found was that we still ended up selling about 30 cookies per day. The kids didn’t buy extras because they were smaller. They were satisfied, and out of habit, they’d still just buy a single cookie.

We’re open 175 days a year, so for that building, we saved about a million calories a year just by changing the portion size. Our profit margin also increased from 16 cents on the larger cookie to 20 cents on the smaller one. That adds up to a 25% increase over what we earned before.


Child’s Play

Rethinking your restaurant's kids’ menu? These simple ideas can help encourage healthy changes while appealing to young diners.

  • Artistic presentations can make it more fun for kids to go beyond chicken and chips. Try arranging items into a friendly face. Using ingredients typically found on your line can ease any extra efforts in the back of the house.
  • Offer a palette of colourful fruits and vegetables that kids can use to decorate their own plates, since taking part in “making” food may encourage them to eat it.1
  • Offer a range of tasty healthier dessert options such as frozen yoghurts and sugar free jelly.
  • Serve cucumber and courgette slices for an edible game of noughts and crosses while kids wait for the rest of their meal.
  • Give children’s dishes fun names on the menu, like “Celery Swords” or “Broccoli & Bouquets,” to encourage them to eat their vegetables.
  • If healthier alternatives such as salads, baked/mashed potatoes are available on the adult menu, make them available on the kids menu too as children love imitating adults. 

Did you know? Some Japanese parents create elaborate “Bento box” lunches for their kids using everyday ingredients. Try making your own by cutting fruits and vegetables into stars, flowers, or animal shapes.



  1. van der Horst, Ferrage, Rytz, 2014