There’s nothing worse than revisiting a childhood snack, only to find that it’s nowhere near as tasty as you remember. Taking a bite out of something that you thought was awesome, only to discover that it takes like chemicals and cardboard is a uniquely disappointing experience. Maybe you’re getting old and slowly losing all sense of flavour, or your memory isn’t quite what you thought it was. Either way, you only have yourself to blame for getting so worked up. Right?
As it turns out, some of your favourite brands have an unsavoury habit of altering their recipes, often without warning. Many of these changes are barely noticeable. Others are done for sensible, ethical reasons. Every so often, however, a business may make a decision that not only ruins the taste of their food, but also turns whole legions of devotees against them forever. Here are seven foods that were absolutely delicious, before they changed the recipe.
1. Taco Bell’s Cheese
Even the most die-hard fans of lurid yellow American cheese sauce have to admit that there’s something weird about it. As anyone who’s visited an actual cheesemonger will attest, no normal cheese actually comes out looking as yellow as a jaundiced golden retriever. Taco Bell agree. In 2015, they committed to removing all artificial colours from their food, including the luminous Yellow Dye Number 6. Hence, their cheese now looks slightly less radioactive, but tastes worse.
There aren’t many condiments that people feel more strongly about than Nutella. Maybe it’s because having chocolate for breakfast is inherently exciting, but Nutella’s global fanbase can get seriously riled up if anything goes wrong with their favourite spread. When it became clear in 2017 that Nutella had added more skimmed milk and sugar to their recipe, people predictably freaked out. Even though Ferrero argued that it still tasted the same, people weren’t having it. Chaos ensued.
3. HP Sauce
You can’t have a proper full English without HP Sauce. A staple of the British breakfast table, this classic condiment is just the right amount of acid, sweet and salt to make bacon, sausages and eggs just that bit better. Or, should we say, was. In 2011, HP’s recipe was changed after 116 to cut down on the amount of salt in order to comply with new government regulations. According to Mashed, this led celebrity chef Marco Pierre White to describe the new flavour as, “definitely dodgy”. Breakfast hasn’t been the same since.
There’s always been something suspicious about a Twinky. Nothing ostensibly made from sponge and cream should have a shelf life of almost a month. That’s just science. Nonetheless, Twinkies were undoubtedly awesome until their tragic 2013 recipe change. Having been taken off shelves for eight months, Twinkies were reintroduced with a smaller size, fewer calories, and an even longer shelf life, making them more mysterious and less delicious.
5. Creme Eggs
It’s bad enough when a brand meddles with something you love, but it’s even worse when they do it behind your back. In 2016, Cadbury’s made just that mistake with their beloved Creme Eggs. When people read that the confectionary was no longer encased in Dairy Milk in what was seen by many as an attempt to cut costs, they were quick to let their feelings be known. In the year after the change, Creme Egg sales were down by over £6 million.
6. McDonald’s French Fries
There are many things that set McDonald’s apart from the fast food competition, but one of the secret weapons had always been their French fries. For the better part of four decades, the franchise had cooked their fries in beef fat, giving them a unique flavour and setting them apart from the competition. That all changed in 1990. On the back of a public health crusade, Maccies switched to supposedly healthier vegetable oil. It’s never been the same since.
7. Dairy Milk
When you take something that’s been a part of people’s lives for more than a century and mess around with it, there are going to be consequences. To the chagrin of chocolate fans around the world, it was announced in June of this year that Cadbury’s would be reducing the sugar content of their signature Dairy Milk by 30%. The public reaction has been predictably hostile to say the least.
Recipe changes can be an all important part of foodie evolution. After all, if we aren’t prepared to take risks then we’ll never go anywhere with our cooking. But there are some things that should be sacred. When you’ve already achieved perfection, what’s the point of trying to improve it?