Day 087: How Is It More Free?

There’s a phrase in marketing that has always confused me. It was a huge trend in the ’90s, especially in snacks, crackers and snack crackers. Instead of saying that the packaging is bigger, they used the phrasing, “____% More Free”. I would see the word, “free” and immediately spazz out to my Mom.

“Mom! Mom! The Cheese Nips are free!”

“No, Troy, they’re not free…”

“But it says, ‘free’!”

“It’s more free than it used to be”

“So it’s on sale?”

“No…it’s just bigger”

“But if it’s ‘more free’ then it’s cheaper!”

“You get more…for free…”

“Can I get it?”

“You don’t like Cheese Nips”

“Yes I do!”

“…you don’t.”


I didn’t like Cheese Nips. Nobody likes Cheese Nips. They shouldn’t exist, let alone be “More Free”. I just wanted a free 4 ounces of crackers. Which probably ended up in the trash, because I was an asshole kid. This was a weird strategy by makers of bad products. Instead of mandating a cheaper price, the norm was to produce the same amount but put more in a package. These snackmakers are responsible for a whole generation of food wasters, obese people and obese food wasters. But that’s not the main beef I have with the tactic.

The main issue is that even as an adult, the phrasing is confusing as hell. There’s not enough info in the statement. A couple of extra words could clarify a lot. It could be, “____% more, for free”. Or they could simply say, “Bigger size, same low price”. Those are clear and direct statements that wouldn’t cost much more ink or confuse the consumer further. To be fair, I hadn’t seen “More free” be used an a while. Or at least I hadn’t noticed. That reality came crashing last week when for some reason, my store got a case of Tootsie Rolls.

Oh God. It’s back. These Tootsie Rolls are 25% More Free. Because when I buy a 12 oz bag of Tootsie Rolls, I yearn for that extra 3 ounces. In fact, if the Tootsie Rolls don’t weigh more than 14 ounces, I’m simply not buying it. I make all of my candy purchasing decisions on how “More Free” it is. At least this time, there’s a slight clarification. It’s 25% more free compared to a 12 oz bag. The fact that they have to mention that tells me Tootsie Rolls have been 25% more free for a long time. So long, in fact, that people are expecting an extra 3.5 ounces on top of the 15 ounces. Why not just mark it 15 ounces? Or say “Bigger Size”? Nobody is tracking the price of Tootsie Rolls and the value isn’t the determining factor when buying them. The only determining factor is whether or not the consumer wants to buy Tootsie Rolls. The conversation ends there.

All of the companies that still use “More Free” phrasing is stuck in the past. How do I know this? Tootsie Rolls still uses the registered trademark of “Midgee” to name their mini candy variety. That word is very clearly used to describe a dwarf child. As soon as a word gets cancelled, companies really need to reflect on whether or not their products are politically correct. Nobody’s clinging onto Tootsie Roll Midgees. In fact, you probably didn’t know they were even called that. They should just be called “Mini Tootsie Rolls”. We’d still get the idea and nobody would feel uncomfortable about buying/selling them.

Tootsie Roll Corp, if you’re reading this, I implore you to get your head out of your ass. To everyone else, just know that “More Free” doesn’t mean cheaper and life will come to you much easier.

– TeeCoZee