It’s news that has had chocolate fans fuming this week, but the effects of a seemingly innocent recipe change to Cadbury’s Creme Eggs are only now being felt behind the scenes.
Since the originally British chocolate institution was bought over by Americans Mondelez International (owned by Kraft Foods), they’ve been making subtle changes to some of their most famous recipes.
One of the most drastic alterations was to the humble Creme Egg: its usually delicious Dairy Milk chocolate shell was replaced by cheaper tasting, American-style choc.
Then they had the cheek to start selling them in boxes of five, instead of six.
It prompted mass outrage from Egg fans, setting off a storm of social media fury that the social media giant found difficult to contain.
But as we roll into Creme Egg season once more, it seems the change has had more of an effect than just a few disgruntled customers.
Market analysis by trade magazine The Grocer found that Cadbury’s usually best-selling Easter line lost more than £10 million in sales over the last year
It’s not all that surprising really, given how stubborn us Brits can be about change (especially when it directly relates to the taste of our favourite chocolate).
But Cadbury’s isn’t the only company to come under fire for a polarising change to its recipe.
Here are seven other example of recipe changes that have sparked food-related outrage.
Ah, HP Sauce, The Marmite of condiments.
Fans of the brown stuff were left aghast in 2010 when manufacturers Heinz reduced the salt content to meet new government guidelines. Less salt? What could be so bad about that?
Well, despite the salt content coming down, calories and carbohydrates both went up, so there really wasn’t much of a health benefit at all.
Plus, it tasted relatively awful in comparison to the ‘classic’ recipe. So bad in fact, that Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White reportedly sent back a plate of bangers and mash at Piers Morgan’s Kensington pub because he thought the food was off.
Turns out he’d just lathered it with HP Sauce (classy) and was tasting the new recipe for the first time.
Kellogg’s Special K
When Kellogg’s tampered with the recipe to its health conscious cereal (unchanged since 1983) in 2013, people wanting far too much from a bowl of cereal were up in arms.
A petition was started to bring back the original recipe, and although it was unsuccessful in reaching its goal of 1,000 signatures, it did describe the new look Special K as “horrible, like chewing sugar coated cardboard.”
After customers describes the flakes as “too hard”, Kellogg’s assured everyone that an extra ingredient – barley – was to blame. Complaints that the cereal had become too sugary were met with the explanation that some of the sugar (which remained at a steady 17%) was now baked on the outside of each flake, giving the perceived increase in sweetness.
Recipe change controversies often come when a company tries to make us all a little bit better off by removing a fraction of something unhealthy (fat or salt for instance) from their product.
When United Biscuits cut the fat from McVitie’s Digestives in 2009, many avid snackers complained of a blander biscuit, despite the company’s protestations that it hadn’t touched the recipe for more than two years.
One of the most infamous recipe controversais in consumer history came back in 1985, when Coca-Cola made its first change to the soft drink’s closely guarded recipe in nearly 100 years (since 1886).
Launching unofficially as New Coke (a nickname derived from the large “NEW!” slapped across its can), this fresh formula was devised in response to Pepsi gobbling up the large slice of market share that Coca-Cola had enjoyed dominance over since World War II.
Instead of revitalising the business, New Coke sparked a backlash from customers, uncomfortable that one of the world’s most recognisable brands had been tampered with, even if it had been tampered with by Coke themselves.
The outrage was so widespread that the company was forced to restock shelves with original Coke, and rebranded to Coca-Cola Classic just three months later.
Campbell’s Chicken Soup
The most recent big adaptation of a recipe, Campbell’s began rolling out a revised version of its Chicken Noodle Soup back in November of last year.
The revision was made in direct response to consumers increasing concerns about the health of their food, and removed a number of processed flavouring ingredients from the formula, dropping the list of components from 30 down to 20.
But despite the healthier nature of the soup, it’ll no doubt be only a short time before customers are harking back to the good ol’ days where you could actually taste the chicken in the Chicken Soup, despite that chicken flavour just being a chemical additive.
Cadbury’s Milk Tray
For fans of chocolate boxes it was bad news in 2012, after Cadbury’s made a number of changes to its Milk Tray classic.
The revered orange cream was placed by the orange truffle, and the company said goodbye to coffee creams and mocha-flavoured chocolates completely, as they did to the old paper menu.
Small changes for most, but for avowed chocolate fans this was the close to heresy. And don’t get us started on the rumoured changes to the hazelnut whirl.
Twinings’ Earl Grey tea
Not even the humble cup of tea is safe from recipe changing outrage.
Back in 2011, Twinings changed its 180-year old recipe for Earl Grey, claiming to have added “an extra hint of bergamot and citrus”. Overwhelmingly negative comments on the website were picked up by the press, and there was even a related protest group on Facebook.
A mere four months later the tea company reintroduced the original under the “Earl Grey: The Classic Edition” label, after complaints from tea drinkers.