Welcome to our new weekly column with Russ “chords of gold” Palmer. This week, he writes with a concerned sweet tooth to Wagon Wheels…
Dear Mr WagonWheel.
I was recently perusing the biscuit aisle of my local supermarket when the wrapper for your delicious biscuit based snack, the Wagon Wheel, caught my eye. I bought myself a multi-pack and took them home. When I arrived home I proudly took them out of the wrapper and placed them on a plate, and then took them into the living room where my Mother and Father were sat. I proclaimed:
“I have brought Wagon Wheels for you!”
My Father took one look at the plate and said:
“I’m not eating them! I remember when I was a lad Wagon Wheels where the actual size of the wheels of a wagon. It’s all the fault of these obese kiddies. They have had to shrink them because little kiddies these days will eat a whole multi-pack and turn themselves into a whale of a kid.”
I disagreed with my Father and told him that it was probably just perspective, as when he was a child with his small child hands the Wagon Wheel would look larger in comparison to the way it looks in his big man-hands. He would not believe me so I investigated the matter further using the Internet and here are my finding:
First, I studied my Father’s claim that Wagon Wheels used to be the size of an actual wheel from a wagon. My research uncovered that most prairie type wagons had a wheel diameter of 22”. Most covered wagons (or ‘Lil Runners, as they were more commonly known) had larger wheels coming in at around a 25-28” diameter. I considered that to maintain a decent profit margin you would have probably have used the smaller type of wagon wheel to base your biscuit snack on. So I drew out a 22” diameter circle on a piece of cardboard and cut it out to show my Father. I then worked our the diameter of the common-day Wagon Wheel Biscuit by finding the circumference and using Pi and then deducing the diameter from that.
I borrowed a small projector from work and wrote on the first laminate:
“If your statement is correct Father: Today’s Wagon Wheel is roughly 18” smaller that it was in 1955.”
I showed him the cardboard cut out of the size he believed Wagons Wheels to be and ran through the statistics and a few argument I had raised to disprove his theory such as the fact that genetically humans are getting larger as a species so again perspective will play it’s part. The cost of importing cocoa and other ingredients have dropped rapidly since the 1950’s so logic would suggest that it would be more profitable now to make bigger Wagon Wheels than in the 1950’s.
After my presentation I asked my Father if he still believed that Wagon Wheels used to be bigger. He said he still believed that Wagon Wheels used to be the size of an actual Wagon Wheel. So this is why I am emailing you today.
Could you please tell me if the Wagon Wheel has varied in size in the last 50 years and, as my Father suggests used to be the size of an actual Wagon Wheel, and if so, is it the fault of all the obese kiddies? Or, have Wagon Wheels always been the same size and is my Father a liar?
Please could you reply as soon as possible as this is the only way we will be able to resolve this family dispute, as it is causing a lot of friction between us.
Wagon Wheel (Burtons Foods) Reply
Dear Mr Palmer
Thank you for your email regarding Wagon Wheels and their size.
The following may help – from the horse’s mouth so to speak!
… Records show that the size of the Wagon Wheel has not changed in more than 40 years. The only physical difference between the Wagon Wheel of today and the very first production if that it no longer has a scalloped edge. This was removed many years ago so that the product could be wrapped automatically. The perception amongst some consumers that Wagon Wheels are now smaller is the result of tighter packaging around the biscuit., compared to the packaging we used in the past. Another key point is that many of today’s adults consumers were also consumers as children and the perception of a child is that everything is “relatively bigger”….
We are sure that you Father will still not believe us, but we think we can safely say Wagon Wheels never measured 22” or more in diameter.
Thank you for taking the time and trouble to contact us, it is always good to hear from our customers.
Consumer Services Department
Burton Foods Ltd.
Editor’s note for Mexican readers: Wagon Wheels are pretty much like Mamuts (para ese apetito feroz!)