One of the benefits of sharing an office with Coudal Partners is that I get to read trade pubs like Nation’s Restaurant News while I’m having lunch. Coudal has food industry clients so they get food industry news.

I like reading industry trade pubs from industries I know nothing about. It opens your eyes to all sorts of new things. I find articles about trans fats, point of sale displays, digital menus, seasonal high-margin menu items, restaurant designs, premium vs. standard items, romaine salads vs. spinach salads, and fast food kitchen automation fascinating. I really do.

While I was paging through the paper today I spotted an ad for McCain’s Sweet Classics. These tiny “desserts by the bite” help “turn a $1 coffee into a $3 dessert.” The full ad spread makes sure you can tell that these tiny desserts fit neatly near the edge of a saucer with a cup of coffee. I fucking love this idea.

I’ve got a sweet tooth, but I don’t like ordering a 1/2 pound slice of cheesecake or a 6” tall piece of pie for dessert—especially after plowing through the huge portions that are so popular at restaurants these days. Give me a couple of small cookies or a tiny piece of cake or a little brownie and I’m more than satisfied. I suspect I’m not alone.

Ordering dessert also comes with a dose of guilt. McCain Foods knows this too. They know a little dessert is an easy sell when a big piece of pie could turn someone off completely.

McCain cites a survey that says 82% of casual dining customers said they were too full to order dessert. That makes sense, but I bet a good chunk of that decision has to do with the perceived dessert size. They are too full to order a massive piece of cake, but they’d probably enjoy something 1/8 the size.

That ties nicely into their “turn a $1 cup of coffee into a $3 desert” angle. Give the customer the option to have just a little dessert and the restaurant can extract some easy incremental profits. Instead of “just a coffee” the restaurant has the opportunity to value-add the coffee with a bit of dessert for only a couple of bucks more. It’s likely an easy sale and a win-win-win for everyone.

While this isn’t brand new thinking (mochi or biscotti or a piece or fruit come to mind), McCain is revitalizing it. And it’s a great example of offering less to create more value. More cake, more pie, more dessert isn’t an easier sell. Less is. I think they’ll benefit hugely from it. It just makes sense.