Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Is Changing — But Will It Taste the Same?

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is going the way of Blockbuster and butterfly hair clips — it’s officially retro.

The company announced Monday that it’s removing artificial preservatives and synthetic colors from its product by early 2016, the Chicago Tribune reports. So you can say “goodbye” to that infamous neon tint, even in their Easy Mac and microwaveable cups.

The change comes after about three years of research, tweaking and consumer tests and is the company’s latest attempt to meet consumer demands for simpler, more natural products. A Change.org petition charging Kraft to remove food dye from its macaroni and cheese received more than 365,000 signatures.

“Consumers have been telling us, and parents in particular, that they want to feel good about the foods that they eat and that they serve their families,” said Triona Schmelter, Kraft’s vice president of marketing for meals.

Dyes Yellow Nos. 5 and 6 will be removed from the product — which has been on shelves since 1937 — while paprika, annatto and turmeric will help with color. But don’t freak out, Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese lovers: The company says that this change will not impact the taste.

Kraft announced that the revamped product would hit store shelves in January — but unbeknownst to customers, it quietly began selling the artificial-ingredient-free mac and cheese in December. (Only consumers who paid careful attention to the tiny print of the ingredients list on the back of the box might have seen the change.) Today, Kraft issued a self-laudatory press release revealing its little experiment — which it has deemed "the world's largest blind taste test" — and proclaiming that "fifty million boxes later ... people didn’t notice a difference."

It turns out that their silence was a carefully planned marketing move. Since the announcement last year, Kraft has not only finished reformulating the recipe, but they also sent it to market! If you've purchased and prepared Kraft Macaroni and Cheese since December 2015, it's very likely that you sampled the new recipe without even realizing it.

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