Can we raise an entry for next year’s IG Nobels?

Not that I know how to write a scientific paper. Nor do I have access to the cash to pay the fees to get one published.

But. “An estimation of capital turnover from baked bean can sizing”.

Standard baked bean cans are still Imperial (actually, I think, American, No. 3 cans? 330?) which equates to 430 or 440 grammes, about. But some are beginning to appear in 400. And newer varieties, or totally different sizes – half cans say – often seem to be accurate metric – 200 grammes.

Why is this? Because canning lines – including the whole deal of getting the steel cut to size and so on – last for decades. How many decades? We can estimate by how long it takes for can sizes to change after metrication.

Capital turnover/technological lockin can be estimated from can sizes. Actual real science but clearly jocular….. a shoo in, surely?

7 thoughts on “Can we raise an entry for next year’s IG Nobels?”

  1. Capacity is measured in ml (or fluid ounces); but most products are sold by weight. If Heinz goes from selling a 454g tin of beans to a 450g tin, perhaps they just removed 4g of beans & sauce, rather than re-working their canning machinery. Even if the can is equally full, there might be more beans and less sauce, which would lower the overall weight.

    You’d need a perfectly consistent product (no fiddling with the bean-to-sauce ratio) in order to perform such comparisons over the long term. Bird’s Custard, perhaps.

  2. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    Happy to write your paper if you have enough data.

    But isn’t this the standard ploy to increase prices? You see it with washing powder perhaps, more than canned goods. There are multiple standard washing powder box sizes, E-something? Standard supermarket-issue pack gets slightly smaller every 6 months/year, then price goes up 30%, then gets reissued as the biggest size with “40% EXTRA FREE!”.

    The more irritating (and perhaps Ig Nobel-worthy) thing about many brands of cans is how many still don’t make cans that you can easily stack one atop the other.

  3. As a confounding issue, some packing/manufacturing lines are set up to allow changes in size.

    “In economics, shrinkflation, also known as the grocery shrink ray, deflation, or package downsizing, is the process of items shrinking in size or quantity, or even sometimes reformulating or reducing quality, while their prices remain the same or increase.”

  4. Hmmmmm… Even a decades-old line should be adjustable for just about any size of can, depending on setup and willingness to invest in molds/stamps and finetuning it all.
    Certainly the relatively minor fiddling you need for just a minor adjustment of a couple cc’s, which you need to do during standard maintenance anyway.

    Given that the adjusted amount is less, ypou’d not even adjust the can manufacturing line, but rather the filling line to the desired amount/weight.
    If stuff is heavy enough, the customer won’t notice the difference visually, and you can still use the old cans…

    And svs… the igNobels do not disqualify on utility. Quite a few igNobels have practical applications.. Quite often more directly so than the actual Nobels.
    The main requirement is to Provoke Thought, regardless of the superficial initial appearance of the research.
    Which is why they are presented by actual Nobel Laureates….

  5. “Not that I know how to write a scientific paper. Nor do I have access to the cash to pay the fees to get one published.”

    1) is why there’s such a thing as “collaboration”.

    2) PLos, and the paper publication needn’t be major. May even be an official report by the Adam Smith Institute, for instance. As long as it’s Officially Published ( and preferably quoted Officially elsewhere..) it’s valid.

    And the “primary researcher” *cough* must be an accredited academic in the relevant field. But that shouldn’t be too hard with the lot commenting here…

    I’d love to see what you come up with… 🙂

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