Last April, Kraft promised to remove all artificial food dyes from its mac and cheese products by January 2016.
Devout Easy Mac fans—who care more about preserving their childhood than avoiding artificial preservatives—were concerned. Would it still taste the same? Would it still have the same mutant glow?
Kraft insisted that we wouldn't be able to tell the difference, but we all collectively thought, We'll have to see it to believe it.
A year passed and everyone forgot about the announcement.
So Kraft decided it would make the changes without making a whole thing out of it—no ad campaigns or anything. Since making the switch in December, it has sold more than 50 million boxes.
It seems that, just as Kraft suspected, nobody noticed.
The new recipe replaces artificial dyes including "yellow 5" and "yellow 6" with paprika, annatto, and turmeric. Artificial preservatives were also removed.
This nifty little experiment—which has been named "the world's largest blind taste test"—has become the focal point of Kraft's new ad campaign, which presents the message: "It's changed. But it hasn't."
"As we considered changing the ingredients of our classic Blue Box, we did so knowing we had to maintain our iconic look, taste and texture," said Greg Guidotti, Kraft Heinz's vice president of meals, in a press release. "We'd invite Americans to try our new recipe, but they most likely already have."
But there's some debate as to whether or not "natural" ingredients are actually healthier than artificial ones. According to the Environmental Working Group, natural and artificial flavors really aren't that different. The term "natural" is thrown around very loosely. The FDA defines natural as "does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances"—but it can still be heavily processed.
Plus, as Food Republic points out, it "will still contain around 780 calories, 75 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and 1,710 milligrams of sodium."
So, yeah, maybe don't replace your morning smoothie with Easy Mac just yet. But if you do decide to give into Cheesasaurus Rex once in a while, you can justify it with the fact that "turmeric" sounds a whole lot better for you than "yellow 6."