Food Serving Sizes in the Philippines: 1 Serving for Filipinos is 1/2 for Americans

My American husband and I like watching “Headlines” segment on Monday night episodes of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  On one episode, someone sent Leno a Chinese restaurant menu.  On one of the combo items, it indicated,

No. of Servings:  Asian: 4.  American: 2.

It’s funny, but there is some truth to that.  In the US, food portions are large, such that when Filipinos travel or move to the US for the first time, they are shocked at what they would consider humungous portions, and tend to order more than they could consume. Conversely, in the Philippines, food servings at restaurants are smaller, sometimes even half, the size in the US. An American might have to place two orders of a certain entree to fill him up.

With pizzas, for example, a “family” size here in the Philippines is “regular” size in the US.  “Regular” here is “small” or “solo” in America.  And “personal” size here is non-existent in the states.  When I ask a waiter how big the portions are on a certain dish, he would say, “For one to two people” if I’m with my husband.  But if I’m with other Filipinos, say my mom or dad, the waiter would say, “Three to four”, for the same dish.

The first time my husband ordered a “small” Frosty at Wendy’s, we knew it was going to be smaller than the small size in the US.  But we didn’t expect it was going to be this small:

Wendy's "Small" Frosty

It was the tiniest Frosty I had ever seen, the size of a shot glass, and as tall as a dollar bill. It was not enough for my husband, but he didn’t feel like falling in line again to order a bigger size.  We learned our lesson.  After that, we asked to be shown how big cups are every time we go to a new fast food.

3 Responses to Food Serving Sizes in the Philippines: 1 Serving for Filipinos is 1/2 for Americans

  1. We have similar experiences. I moved to the States when I was 28, so my experience was the exact opposite of yours, i.e., I was astounded at the huge serving portions. :-)

    When you have the chance, you can read more here: http://denganda.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/culture-shock/

    • When I moved back with my family to the Philippines, I was actually expecting that serving sizes were smaller than that in the US. But I didn’t expect that they were going to be soooo small. When the cashier at Wendy’s gave me the Frosty, my husband and I didn’t know what to do with it. If we use a straw, we were afraid it would tip over. Should we use a spoon instead? Or just tip it over and swallow the whole thing in one gulp, like a shot of liquor?

  2. That’s why Americans are big ….and their serving size is proof that America is the fattest nation on earth.

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