Sometimes I bite into one of my favorite snacks and think it tastes a little different. It’s easy to assume that maybe I’m catching a cold or my taste buds have changed. But as it turns out, I’m not the only one who has noticed these secret product changes. In fact, many companies secretly change their formulas to save money, meet new government guidelines, or make a healthier product. Prepare to be amazed by this list of ten secret product changes.
I know I’m not the only one who remembers enjoying the delicious, cream-filled cakes of Twinkies as a kid. Unfortunately, around the late nineties, parent company Hostess brands, decided their profits just weren’t sweet enough to keep the lights on. Eventually, Twinkies were discontinued, although they were reintroduced after what was left of the company was purchased by a Wall Street holding company. The newly reinvigorated Hostess called the return of Twinkies “the sweetest comeback ever.”
However, my taste buds aren’t the only ones to disagree. Many people noticed the cakes were smaller, drier, and the creamy filling just didn’t taste as good. Hostess admits it “tweaked” the cakes to extend their shelf life and make them slightly smaller. But despite having a longer shelf-life, the cakes taste less fresh to a lot of consumers. Sadly, the “sweetest comeback ever” has left many with a bad taste in their mouth with this secret product change.
This isn’t the first time Twinkies changed their iconic flavor though. When the sweet treat was first introduced in 1930, it was made with banana-flavored filling, but then bananas were rationed during World War II.
That’s when the company came up with the tasty vanilla flavoured filling we all know and love—or used to, anyway. I don’t know about you, but I’m glad they left the banana filling in the past—what’s next, an applesauce-stuffed Ho-Ho? Cupcakes with coconut filling?
9. McDonald’s Menu Items
McDonald’s sells a lot of vanilla ice cream, between cones and using it as a base for their famous McFlurries.
It’s hard to believe they changed the ingredients last year and no one even noticed, but that’s what happened. The fast food restaurant started removing artificial ingredients in late 2016, and pulled artificial flavors from the vanilla ice cream that contributes to about sixty percent of the chain’s dessert menu. The artificial ingredients apparently didn’t contribute much, because no one noticed a difference in flavor.
Meanwhile, the company also changed their iconic Chicken McNuggets when they stopped sourcing chickens raised with antibiotics, another tweak that likely went unnoticed in the taste department.
One thing consumers HAVE noticed? The chain changed their french fries in 1990, switching to vegetable oil instead of beef tallow for the frying process.
While this made vegetarians happy, many customers remember the french fries of their youth tasting better and complain that today’s fries are more like cardboard. But hey, at least they don’t advertise with a giant cow holding up a sign that says, “Eat More Fries.”
Don’t you want a Fanta? Maybe not, if you’ve noticed the new taste like I have. And I’m not alone—many fans are annoyed at the new formula, particularly of the orange flavor. In an effort to avoid a sugar tax on soda, the company changed its UK formula to have less sugar—and more artificial sweeteners. The logo and bottle also changed, but consumers were most annoyed by the new flavor.
Many fans complained that with the secret product change it has a nasty aftertaste common with artificial sweeteners, and have told the company they would rather have the full-sugar version back. So far the soda remains unchanged from its new recipe. In fact, despite consumer complaints, the soda’s parent company even bragged about how well-received the new drink was—I’ll have more on that a little further down the list.
7. Subway Bread
Subway has a “healthy” image, and many people probably get a Subway sandwich after yoga class.
However, health-conscious consumers don’t want to eat their yoga mat, and some got angry after learning that a chemical used in yoga mats also found its way into the chain’s bread. Azodicarbonamide—try saying THAT three times fast—is used to make shoe rubber and those sticky mats we use in yoga class.
It was also added to the sandwich restaurant’s bread as a “bleaching agent.” When a popular food blogger demanded the ingredient be removed, calling it unnatural, fans agreed and bombarded the company with complaints. Subway tried to save face by claiming they were planning to remove the ingredient anyway, and so they did. Guess that means that now your footlong won’t taste like an old shoe.
6. Taco Bell
Subway isn’t the only fast food place trying to pull a fast one removing artificial ingredients from its menu. Taco Bell started doing the same in 2015.
It may affect the flavor of your Nacho Cheese Dorito’s Loco Taco Supreme, among other items that contain nacho cheese and/or beef seasoning. If your cheese looks a little pale, that’s because it has no more Yellow Number 6. Artificial flavors were also replaced with natural ones in the chain’s seasoned beef.
Moo-ove over, artificially flavored beef and dairy products, today’s fast food restaurants are going the natural route. Now you can “live mas” the clean way.
5. Not Even Your Coffee is Safe
With all these changes to fast food menus, at least my coffee is safe—right? Not so fast. I noticed my Nescafe Original just doesn’t taste the same, and that’s because the formula has changed. I wasn’t the only one to notice—numerous consumers complained about the new red-topped cans.
Some even compared the flavor to a dishwater. This juxtaposed badly with the company’s claims that it was “new and improved.” A spokesman responded by repeating how full the flavor was multiple times in this statement: “At Nestle, we continually improve our product experience for our consumers. Consumers told us that while they loved the full flavor of Nescafé Original, they’d love a fuller flavor. Our new recipe captures the fullest flavors and aromas of freshly ground coffee to deliver our fullest flavored Nescafé Original yet.” All I get out of that double talk is that the old flavor was full, but the new flavor is fuller. And I agree—I think the “new and improved claims” are definitely ‘full’ of… something.
4. Nestle Chocolate
I need a nice, gooey chocolate chip cookie to help me get over my massive coffee disappointment. Whoops, those changed too. Now the chocolate morsels made by nestle just aren’t melting like they used to.
Is nothing sacred? After people complained their chocolate-chip cookies weren’t coming out right with Toll House morsels, the company admitted to making what they called “minimal tweaks” to its formula, replacing artificial vanillin with real vanilla, although it claimed these changes shouldn’t affect flavor. Fans disagreed.
Meanwhile, the baking and candy company took some heat for slashing the sugar in Kit Kat bars. In the UK, both KitKats and Milky bars got new labels that touted, “Now with extra milk and cocoa,” as a cover for reducing their sugar content by ten percent.
“Break me off a piece of that lower-sugar bar” just doesn’t have the same ring to it for some consumers, who wish companies would stop breaking up relationships between fans and their candy.
3. Cadbury Creme Eggs
In another candy catastrophe, Cadbury Creme eggs were also secretly changed by the company’s US owners. The egg was swapped out from dairy-milk chocolate to a cheaper cocoa-mix chocolate.
The company claims cost had nothing to do with it, and the cocoa-mix chocolate was just “the best one for the crème egg.” Never mind that it was also best for their bottom line. Many fans were angry at the change and claimed the new flavor was “cheap-tasting.” If the company was hoping the Easter Bunny would bring it egg-stra sales, they were wrong—angry fans’ poor appreciation for the new eggs cost the company millions of pounds in losses, both in the US and the UK . Sounds like they need to hop on back to that old formula. Recently, Cadbury also came under fire from fans of their mini eggs who claimed they tasted ‘cheaper’.
However, experts claim the change in taste is down to rising cocoa prices. Others can’t help but think it’s due to changes made by Kraft after it took over Cadburys in 2010.
Coca-Cola is one of the most famous examples of a disastrous change in formula. In 1985, they tested a new recipe for their iconic drink. In taste tests, the new drink beat the old one by a wide margin. Taste-testers LOVED the New Coke—even more than Pepsi, which Coke considered an important selling point.
So the company made a bold, unprecedented move, replacing their tried-and-true old formula with the new one. No one could buy old Coke for several months that year, and the company expected the new product to sell well. It did at first, but once the novelty wore off, people realized they missed the old flavour, and stopped buying Coke altogether. Eventually, the corporation admitted its mistake, pulled the new beverage, and re-released the old one.
Conspiracy theories abound about how such a large company made such a colossal blunder. Some thought it was a huge marketing plot, or a way for coke to transition from sugar-cane sweetened coke to the less expensive high fructose corn syrup.
However, the cheaper sweetener was already almost entirely used in the old coke before the transition. It was just down to the nostalgia and familiarity consumers had with the original product.
Recently though, the company has started tinkering again, at least with some other drinks in its cola collection. In Australia, the company quietly replaced 15% of the sugar in Sprite with stevia, and claims customers are fine with the change.
Of course, they also claim the UK release of the 30%-less-sugar Fanta was a huge success. I guess they’re not counting the angry customers I mentioned earlier. Meanwhile, in the US, Coke Zero was renamed “Coke Zero Sugar” to make it clear the product has no sugar – although it never did.
The ingredients list is the same and the flavor is said to be similar, so this is more of a rebranding effort. Not surprisingly, Coke doesn’t want a repeat of the “we want our old beverage back” debacle that happened in the eighties.
1. Nutella—Lighter in Color, Heavier in Sugar
While Coke and other brands try to quietly reduce sugar, other products have done just the opposite. Fans were recently outraged that the new Nutella spread is lighter in color—but has more sugar.
The new recipe also has more powdered skim milk, and a spokesperson claims the “quality is the same.” Fans of the product, however, begged to differ, saying the taste is all wrong now, while others complained that the higher-sugar formula was unhealthy. One Twitter user actually compared the company’s self-described fine-tuning of the recipe to ‘drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa.’ While the nutty spread is now lighter in color, it may leave you a little heavier.
Did you noticed any of these snacks had changed before reading this? Do you know of any more secret product changes that we missed out? Let me know in the comment section down below! Thanks for reading!