Monday, August 6, 2012

When "New & Improved" Isn't

We all have our comfort foods. For some, it's mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, bread slathered in butter... whatever your comfort food, it's probably something that you know really isn't good for you, but it takes you back to another time and place. With that first bite, the tension leaves your shoulders, you kind of sink into your chair, and a contented sigh escapes your lips.

Hamburger Helper is one of my comfort foods. Lasagna HH, to be exact. I haven't eaten it in years, but two weeks ago, I decided I wanted some. So I picked up a box and a pound of ground beef and headed home to make a comforting meal. At least, that was the idea.

My beef was browned and drained. I looked at the back of the box to double check how much water to add and to my surprise saw that milk was now listed. Milk? In my lasagna? There was never milk before. Did I get the right kind? I turned the box over, and that's when I saw it: New Improved Flavor.

My heart sunk. Because New Improved Flavor should mean that I'm going to really, really enjoy this food. But we all know it doesn't. What it really means is, We took something you already enjoyed, messed with it, and now it's completely different.

I still made it. I ate some of it. And I was extremely disappointed. Maybe it does taste more "homemade" like they claim on the box (although when I open a box and cook on top of the stove, I consider it homemade, so I don't know why that was even an issue.) But it doesn't taste like it used to. Not even close. And it doesn't look the same. I miss the almost-neon orange sauce. Sure it was artificial and a color not normally found in nature, but it was part of the experience. And now it's gone.

Sometimes, it seems like companies decide they have to constantly change things in order to keep people interested. Perhaps that's true. Personally, I cringe at the word upgrade. Because nine times out of ten, it doesn't mean better... it means now you have to relearn how to do something that was easy to you yesterday.

Sorry for venting about my disappointing HH experience. If you're waiting for it to lead into a philosophical analogy about the fluidity of life and how nothing stays the same, sorry to disappoint you. I've got nothin'. I'm just really bummed about a taste from my past that apparently is gone forever.
To leave it on a positive note, let's take a look at a dependable friend. A product that never disappoints because, despite all the different versions available, you can still get the old, dependable original... plain M&Ms. How I love you, little candy-coated chocolates!

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