Last Updated Fri, 16 Dec 2005 16:18:40 EST
Canadians eat enough Smarties each year to circle the Earth 350 times, or so claims one of the fun facts on the package.
This bit of trivia got a teacher in Thunder Bay, Ont., thinking. And she had her Grade 6 math class crunch the numbers.
The result: Nestlé Canada, maker of Smarties, gets failing grades in arithmetic and responsiveness.
The students started with the number of the candy-coated chocolate spheroids Nestlé said Canadians eat annually: Four billion.
Then they took the size of a single Smartie and worked out how many it would take to form a 40,000-kilometre necklace around the planet.
That's when they figured out that something was wrong.
Four billion Smarties would go around the world just once.
"We broke it down from centimetres to metres and then kilometres," student Caitlin Henderson says, "and it was 114 kilometres that Nestlé suggested the circumference of the Earth might be."
To make the company's claim true, each Smartie would have to be bigger.
"Three and a half metres," says student Kaylie Rankin. "It's about the size of our chalkboard. I don't know if I'd be able to eat it."
Teacher Tanja Coghill says it took three letters to get Nestlé officials to admit their mistake, but it was important for the students to get that acknowledgement.
"We can make a difference," she says. "We're a little class of 10 students in Grade 6 in Thunder Bay, Ont., and you can make a difference with a huge multinational company."
A Nestlé spokesman says the packaging will be changed next year.