Does anybody out there remember the New Coke fiasco?
Because The Hershey Company is making the same mistake, although in a less splashy sort of way. The company's chocolate products have been on a long trudge toward mediocrity lately as more vegetable oils and milk fat were added to replace the more expensive cocoa butter, and as PGPR snuck into the ingredients list.
There's been no Big Change and no expensive ad campaign trumpeting the different formulation. But more and more, people are noticing the Hershey bars and Kisses they buy today just don't taste like they used to. Cybele's troubling feature on CandyBlog illustrates the changes in bar weight and price, and addresses the ingredients changes as well. There's a depressing list of the recent changes in many Hershey products from chocolate to "mockolate," and a valid criticism of The Hershey Company's web site, which is rarely up-to-date and does an inadequate job of communicating to consumers.
But the most troubling paragraph in Cybele's analysis comes near the end:
In our house, where we have two chocolate-crazy kids (who are fourth-generation Hershey natives, by the way) and two foodie adults, we've stopped buying the inferior Hershey's products. We have chocolate in the house less frequently, but when we do, it's real chocolate. Sure, we stick with Hershey's products, but we end up paying the extra dollar for Dagoba or Scharffen Berger chocolates. We talk often about how the chocolate used to taste, and we wonder if Hershey would be better served to introduce a "Hershey's Classic" line -- Hershey bars and Kisses that recall the good old days, when chocolate was...well...chocolate.