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Stadium beer outrage: Large and small are the same

There was a $3 difference in price, and the cups were shaped differently, but they held the same amount of beer.

By Mar 14, 2014 2:12PM

This post comes from Bob Sullivan at partner site on MSN MoneyHow often do I get to combine my favorite topics — consumer behavior beer, hockey, and ripoffs — in the same story! Hockey fans (of course, hockey fans) in Idaho have sued a minor league team for using differently-shaped but equal volume plastic cups for their small ($4) and large ($7) sizes.

Video still of beer cups at a Boise stadium Courtesy of HeathandGwenHunt via Facebook
Thanks, Idaho Statesman for being all over this story.

A YouTube video produced by hockey-and-beer fans Heath and Gwen Hunt pours out the convincing evidence, as the couple pours to contents into one tall and thin cup into the other short and fat cup, and the volume is clearly similar.

The team has responded to a social-media driven outcry, and more than 800,000 YouTube views, and ordered larger beer cups. Now that’s what I call a happy ending.

"It was recently brought to our attention that the amount of beer that fits in our large (20-oz) cups also fits in our regular (16-oz) cups. The differentiation in the size of the two cups is too small," wrote Eric Trapp, the president of the Idaho Steelheads in a post on the team’s Facebook page. "To correct that problem, we’re purchasing new cups for the large beers that will hold 24 ounces, instead of 20, for the remainder of this season to provide better value to our fans. As we do every offseason, we’ll evaluate our entire concessions menu for next season over the summer,"

These kinds of optical illusions are a common staple in the war that is consumers vs. retailers. Humans are actually very bad at judging volume, for example. Tell the truth — aren’t you surprised the cups are equal?  And of course, shrinking volume on items we love is a time-tested, sneaky way for companies to make more money from us. (Go ahead, try to find an actual quart jar of ANYTHING these days.) Rather than raise the price, they shrink the item, a technique sometimes called inflation by degradation. My friend Ed Dworsky covers this issue all the time at

Let this be a lesson to you: Buy beer from bartenders you trust.

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In a plastic cup??

And I have to get up and go get it myself?????

Just another reason why I stay at home and watch it on TV....
Wife wears the maids outfit and carries a serving tray....
Beer is cheaper and the bathroom is closer.....

Mar 17, 2014 8:35AM
The irony here is that if the team moves to a 24 ounce cup, that is 50% larger than a 16 ounce cup.
1.5 x 16 = 24.
Therefore, the price should be no more than 1.5 x $4.00 = $6.00.  And yet they are still charging $7.00 for $6.00 of beer, let alone the fact that there should be some kind of cost savings for buying the larger size (i.e., the 24 oz. should cost less than $6.00 to be a value over the smaller size.)
Mar 16, 2014 9:25AM
Sports teams are Nuts. I can buy a 6 pack of Bud Light at Wal-Mart for the same price as a 12 oz draft beer at an Orlando Magic game.
Mar 18, 2014 12:10PM
it's still more cost effective to buy two smalls.
Mar 14, 2014 3:05PM
Maybe they consumer was getting a deal on the small cups.
Mar 14, 2014 4:02PM
So many (almost all?) good colleges are overpriced.  Its hard to justify the loan, no matter how great the name.  The colleges' reputation matters for getting your first job, after that its about your performance on the first job.   But the connections you make help throughout your life, and the more difficult the school the better the connections.    

Mar 14, 2014 4:11PM

I think there needs to be some separation between geographic familiarity and preference in hiring.  Here in Texas there is a preference for hiring from Texas schools.  Not being from Texas I find it to be a bit provincial.  Also, I think that when discussing degrees it's important to make a distinction between undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees.  Some universities spend far more attention and money on the their graduate programs than their undergraduate programs.  I feel undergraduate degrees from the state supported public universities are superior to the private/ivy league universities. But at the graduate level Harvard among others are able to outspend and to a point out recruit the state schools for teaching professionals. 

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