It’s hard to imagine mothers clamoring for red dye No. 40 and artificial flavorings in their children’s food.
What kind of alternate universe is that in 2017? In spite of the trend toward eating healthfully, and avoiding genetically modified food, MSG, sugar and gluten — some things cross the line.
According to General Mills, maker of breakfast cereal, that is exactly what happened. General Mills was following the good example of other companies who were trending toward all-natural colors and flavors. They decided to change the cereal called Trix to a more healthy breakfast food. It backfired.
All-natural Trix came out in 2016 and not too soon after, the demands for the return of Blue No. 1 and Yellow No. 6 along with high-fructose corn syrup were coming in. Natural colors were not satisfying the unicorn-butterfly generation. The calls, emails, posts and tweets were flooding social media.
Who knew additives had their own cult following? Who even knew cereal was taken seriously by anyone?
The truth is, as yogurt and natural cereal bars join the offerings for breakfast, the cereal companies had to consider marketing their products as natural and healthy. They never considered that it could create a response from the diehard Trix eaters who wanted tie-dye colors.
In days gone by, if you wanted to add hue to a bland piece of fabric or foods you would use beet juice, dandelion petals or whatever else was at hand. So General Mills pledged to eliminate artificial colors and flavors and use turmeric, purple carrots, radishes and the like to add the rainbow appeal that children loved. But these colors weren’t as vibrant. I am not sure the yellow spice used in curry and mustard affected the taste of the cereal, and you would think blueberry concentrate would improve the flavor, but nonetheless, the complaints began.
We all have had a secret love affair with Cap’n Crunch or Cocoa Puffs, but would we write the company to object to eliminating some of the sugar?
The complaints ranged from disliking the taste to just saying the colors weren’t vibrant enough. One man went so far as to say his childhood was fading with the colors of Trix cereal. This is where I really need to say “Get a life,” and I don’t mean Life cereal.
Having said that, there is little likelihood my children will have any nostalgic feelings for Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter on Catherine Clark Brownberry Bread. So maybe I just regret not allowing my children the fond memories of the sugar buzz in the morning. They weren’t so keen on my green eggs and ham either, but that’s another story.
When Kraft Heinz removed the yellow dye from the boxed macaroni and cheese in 2015, there was a murmur, but most consumers didn’t notice. Cereal is clearly more personal.
Fruity Pebbles and Lucky Charms need their vibrant colors to keep life worth living. To make cereal tasty and look more appealing, it takes more than natural fruit juice and some vegetable dyes. The more additives, the more satisfied the consumer. Go figure. (OK, no one should ever criticize coffee and donuts again.)
The end result is that instead of continuing to remove the artificial ingredients in all its cereal brands, General Mills is reintroducing the more colorful classic Trix. Back by popular demand, coming to a store near you.
Kellogg said it was going to remove dyes in its Nutri-Grain Bars and Fruit Loops by 2018, but this whole social media storm may have put the company off in fear of repercussions. Nobody wants their products maligned because of too few additives.
I guess the breakfast of champions wasn’t healthy enough for the organic crowd, and talking tigers weren’t enough to capture the imaginations of rainbow lovers. Let them eat dye.