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Does a fun-sized candy bar feel fun when you eat it, or does it just feel funny? What does it mean when someone calls somebody fun-sized? What does “fun size” really mean?
What “Fun-Size” Means
Oxford Languages officially describes “fun-size” as “smaller than the regular or usual size.” The Urban Dictionary defines it as “someone who is cute and below average height.”
So, when something or someone is smaller or shorter than the average, they’re called “fun-sized”.
When Do People Stop Being “Fun-Sized”?
Short is relative. In countries like Indonesia, Bolivia, and the Philippines, the top 3 countries with the shortest average height of people in the world with a combined average height of 62.9 inches (5 feet 2 inches) everyone would be “fun-sized” if you were a lot taller than them.
In countries like The Netherlands, Montenegro, and Denmark, the top 3 countries with the tallest average height of people in the world with a combined average height of 72.13 inches (6 feet), you would be the “fun-sized” one if you were way shorter than them.
Where Did the Term “Fun Size” Come From?
The term “fun size” was born out of the darkness of the Great Depression. People couldn’t afford luxuries, and sugar – a taste of how sweet life can be– was hard to get, so candy-bar makers experimented with new approaches.
Curtiss Candy Company – the maker of the famous favorites, Butterfinger and Baby Ruth – started creating smaller versions of their candy bars in the 1930s. Curtiss used the term “junior” to advertise individually wrapped, miniaturized, and cheaper sweets.
People loved it! You don’t feel like you’re putting yourself out there financially to have a taste of the sweet life, even if it’s only on your tongue.
Competition followed. Mars, Inc. – maker of M&Ms, Snickers, Three Musketeers, Twix, Milky Way, and other classic confections still popular today — started selling smaller versions of their products in 1961. Initially calling them “junior”, too, Mars, Inc. dropped this term when it launched new candies in 1968 that were slightly larger than the “junior” ones but still smaller than the traditionally sized ones, calling them “fun size”.
The first fun-sized candy bars that were called “fun size” were Snickers and Milky Way, followed by Three Musketeers and M&Ms in little packs, not bars.
In later years, other candy makers, including Curtiss, followed suit, calling their smaller-than-average-sized candies “fun size”. Mars objected and registered a trademark for the term “fun size” in Illinois, then sued Curtiss for violating its trademark rights.
The lawsuit arguments considered legal questions like “why are you calling this fun?”, “what makes it fun?”, “how can you own generic words like fun and size?” which didn’t sound fun anymore.
Curtiss fought back in this landmark 1972 case, arguing that Mars never considered the term to be a trademark until just before it filed the lawsuit. Also, another company had already trademarked the word “fun” in 1926 for candy-based use, so how can Mars monopolize the words “fun” and “size”?
Mars lost the case yet still owns the trademark for “fun size”, even if many candy makers sell their miniature bars with this name today.
Fun-Sized Stuff Around Us
Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, warm woolen mittens on small babies – they are all fun-sized!
Here are other fun-sized things around us:
The Mamiellophyceae class are tiny algae that photosynthesize and are eukaryotes (any cell or organism with a clearly defined nucleus) so they can be considered as fun-sized plants, at 0.2 microns to 5 microns (a micron is one millionth of a meter).
All the young of animals are always fun-sized, but there are animals which remain fun-sized well into their adulthood.
The top 3 are:
Paedophyryne amanuensis (smallest frog in the world) discovered in New Guinea in 2009 with an average body size of just 0.3 inches (7.7 mm)
Slender Blind Snakes or Thread Snakes found in North and South America, Africa, and Asia, averaging at 4.3 inches (11 cm) in length
Kitti’s Hog-nosed Bat found in Thailand and Burma, measuring at 1.1 inches to 1.6 inches (30mm to 40mm) in length, and weighing only 0.05 oz. to 0.07 oz. (1.5 g. to 2g).
The ElBil Norge Buddy Cab is the smallest car in the world at 96 inches (2,440 mm) in length, 56.3 inches (1,430mm) in width, and 56.7 inches (1,440mm) in height. It’s a Norwegian electric car that is the 6th generation of the Kewet model first developed in 1991.
Buddies come in a variety of strong, bright colors, with many using bold decorative elements like hearts, clouds, flowers, and flames. Fun, indeed!
It’s strange, though, how the smallest car in the world comes from Norway, the fourth country with the tallest people in the world!
Fun-sized famous people
What do Ariana Grande, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Danny DeVito have in common? They are all 5 feet tall – fun-sized in a country where the average height is 5 feet 9 inches for men and 5 feet 4 inches for women. But, think of all the power, talent, and influence they pack in such fun-sized frames!
Although they aren’t real, with how tall a Minion is, they would definitely be considered fun-sized as well.
Why Fun-Sized Things Make Us Happy
Tiny things make us happy. It’s backed by the psychology of cuteness and research going back 70 years.
Konrad Lorenz, a German ethologist introduced the concept of “baby schema” (Kindchenschema) in 1943 to describe how certain physical features typically associated with babies prompt most humans to feel a delightful desire to take care of the thing or person possessing these features.
Seeing something small and cute stimulates bonding behavior as the body releases oxytocin and dopamine. Oxytocin makes us feel in love with the object of our attention and dopamine makes us feel happy. They also bring back the comforts of childhood, are non-threatening, and encourage awe and wonder.
The very power of fun-sized things and people is in their smallness. They draw people to them and influence people to open up and care more.
Fun-sized inspires fun!