Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Warning: This is another one of my rants


Last week I went to a restaurant I’ve been going to for years. Some great entrees and it’s a block from Cedars-Sinai hospital so if I have any kind of attack during dinner I’m covered.

There are three or four dishes I always like and their soups are m-m-m good (which is the official standard for soup). I hadn’t been there in a few months but when I picked up the menu I was shocked. They had completely changed it. Now there were a million appetizers and only four main courses. And none of my favorites made the cut. What the fuck? I asked the waiter what soups they had and he said, “Not sure we still have soup. Let me check.” (They did, much to his surprise)

I guess this is a new trend. Skew towards tapas items, “small bites”, or whatever cute name they have for charging you $9.95 for a crab cake the size of your eye.

So today’s topic: Things that change for the worse, or, as I like to call it -- “the New Coke Phenomenon”.


For those unfamiliar, Coca Cola decided for some inexplicable reason to change its formula in 1985 and sales plummeted. People were so upset in the south that there was almost a second burning of Atlanta. Coke eventually went back to its original “classic” formula.

Side note:  It should be noted that the original formula was not the first version of Coca-Cola.  My grandmother used to say that Coke was the greatest drink ever when she was a kid.  Somehow they ruined it.  Uh, yeah... in that initial formula there was cocaine in it.  

Meanwhile, the Necco candy company has now ruined Chocolate Necco Wafers. They’ve made them different flavors of chocolate and they’re awful. Who are they even kidding with “flavors”? It’s chalk. Chocolate Necco Wafers never tasted like chocolate. Sweetbreads don’t taste like sweet breads. And Rocky Mountain Oysters sure don’t taste like oysters. So what? Chocolate Necco Wafers tasted good. Now they don’t. Were Chocolate Necco Wafer sales down so alarmingly that the stockholders demanded a change or heads would’ve roll?

When you think of industries that have changed for the worse, you have to put airlines at the top of the everyone's list. At least when restaurants change their menu it’s with the hope of attracting new and more customers. But the airlines don’t give a shit. If they could get away with just strapping you to the wings and filling the cabin with more cargo they would.

XM radio used to be much better. The minute Sirius merged with them the cost cutting began. Less live talent, less musical variety, and more syndicated fare. There used to be a baseball-only talk channel. Now they just simulcast MLB-TV in the late afternoons and evenings. So this is a highlight they might now feature: “Whoa, will you look at that? Can you believe it?” And I’m paying good money for this?

Speaking of baseball, what was wrong with stadium organs? Going to a big league game used to be a night of Americana. Today it’s like stepping into TRON. Kudos to those few clubs that still have stadium organs. Is the ballpark experience really better with Snoop Dog?

And closer to home, Blogger “improved” their format and now it’s impossible for me to upload pictures if I’m in Firefox. And every time Facebook changes something I worry that all my private settings are being viewed and mocked by Mark Zuckerberg, Sean Parker, and the rest of the drunk nerds at Mark’s rented party house in Palo Alto.


Has anyone used “Advanced” Cascade on their dishes? “Advanced” means crusty film on your dishes. Nabisco Ginger Snaps are now awful. With all the things in the world that really do need changing, why start with Ginger Snaps? And Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup used to be m-m-m-m good. Now the “new improved” version is eh-eh-eh ech!!!

These are just a few examples, the Chocolate Necco Wafers being the most disturbing. I bet you guys can name others.

75 comments:

Stephen Gallagher said...

Don't get me started about Universal's new King Kong ride. They replaced a giant robot with a 3D movie. At six times the cost of a new animatronic. Was there ever a more profound misunderstanding of entertainment appeal?

And Kit Kats ain't been the same since they went from a foil wrapper to a sealed plastic sleeve. I'm convinced they simultaneously downgraded the quality of the chocolate in the hope that people would be too annoyed about the wrapper to notice they'd cheapened the product.

They had one of those 'tell us what you think' phone numbers on the new wrapper so I called it. Got a nice lady at the company who had no idea what I was calling about.

Steve Zeoli said...

Well, my all-time most hated change is trading Diane Chambers for Rebecca Howe...

Also, sports footwear (call them tennis shoes, sneakers, whatever...) have become ridiculous. We used to get a pair of Keds or Converse All-Stars and wear them for playing basketball, running, bicycling, etc... Then they invented specialized shoes for all those things. And then someone came up with the brilliant idea of creating cross-training shoes -- shoes you could wear for running, bicycling, playing basketball... Brilliant.

droszel said...

I'm with you on XM Radio. My brother, a former Sirius subscriber, said the same about that service. After the merger, it went to hell. XM sounds like they're in an echo chamber and the music has gone all Musak. I've unsubscribed. I now listen to Pandora via my iPhone connected to the AUX input of my car

Mark Thompson said...

Over here in the UK, Heinz "improved" the style of their squeezy ketchup bottle a few years ago. It used to work very well with a little squeeze resulting in a sensible amount coming out. Now you squeeze a bit. Nothing. Squeeze a bit more. Still nothing. Then more, and finally it will suddenly come splurging out. It's almost impossible now to get the correct amount out. Sometimes I find myself unscrewing the top and pouring the frigging stuff out manually thus totally defeating the purpose of the design of the bottle.

I know it's a little thing but it really pisses me off and actually makes me a lot less likely to buy the product these days!

Tim Hunter said...

Quick sidebar on the Coke thing. Seattle newscaster from a long time ago, Ruth Walsh (her ex brought the Goodwill games to Seattle) use to always tell the tale of her grandfather who had a chance to buy into Coca Cola at the ground floor and passed it up.
But you know, in the grand scheme of things, it just would have made life too easy.

VP81955 said...

Nothing against Blogger, but LiveJournal is far easier to work with -- it's completely compatible with IE, Firefox and other browsers.

dgwPhotography said...

Actually, I don't think they went back to the original formula of coke - it still doesn't taste the same. I think they went to the Pepsi-like taste because it was cheaper to produce, and when it bombed, went to something that was closer to the original taste, yet was cheaper to produce.

I agree with the Steve on the Diane and Rebecca swap.

The first Darrin was better, too....

Jonathan Korman said...

Tide detergent.

Every year, they tell me they've improved it. "Check out this stain; old Tide doesn't get it out, but new Tide does."

First of all, this erodes my faith in the process. Last year you were telling me Tide was awesome, this year you're telling me that actually it sucked then but now it's fixed? How many times am I supposed to fall for this?

Second, Tide is good enough. Seriously. My clothes, they're clean. Can you get those scientists to work on something more worthwhile now?

iain said...

So this is the Grandpa Simpson "Old Man Yells At Cloud " thread? Good, I'd like to chime in with the evil Wendy's has done to their "new & improved" fries. If I want to add sea salt to my diet, I'll jump in the ocean, tyvm.

If they ever screw with the Frosty, I won't be held responsible for my actions.

Anonymous said...

SweeTarts: They really screwed them up. No lemon or lime anymore. No Green Apple. Eeech. Green SweeTarts used to be the ultimate. Now, I throw them away.

BC in OC said...

It's funny you mention Cascade b/c The Weekly Standard just ran a piece on dishwasher detergent (seriously). There's a reason why the new formulas suck: http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/another-triumph-greens_536862.html

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

Aussie (brand name) hair products. They completely "updated" their line by changing the formula, names, and packaging of all their products. Had they only changed the names and packaging, I wouldn't complain, but the new formulas are far inferior. It's so disappointing.

danrydell said...

And what's the deal with GrapeNuts? No grapes, no nuts, what's the deal?

Gary Allyn said...

I have some RANTS of my own too. Take potato chips(please), we're now paying 5 bucks for a half filled bag in a so-called "family" size. Five years ago it was 2.99. I went to buy an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce that this recipe called for, and could find only 7 and a half ounce cans. This scaling down has been going on when coffee was scaled down from a 39 oz. can to 33 to 31, to 28 etc. for the same price in some cases. Even candy bars come in so many sizes one is hard pressed to figure what is the best buy. There's "bite-size", "mini", regular, large(which now has two medium sized bars in one wrapper. As for soft drinks, try to figure out which container to buy. the 8oz can or plastic bottle, the 20 oz. bottle, the 2 liter, or a six
pack, a 12 pack, the new 20 pack, which is the scaled down 24 carton.
There's even a 6 and 8 oz. small can and/or bottle. And has anyone figured out why an opened can of 7UP goes flat over night, but a Coke does not? Is there a difference in the carbonation process or something. Pricing, it seems, has no relationship to the many sizes and shapes the merchandise comes in. Bring a calculator, also scissors and pliers just so you can open these "easy" containers and packaging too. America, we're being duped!!!- Gary Allyn

Blaze said...

Change for the sake of change. Desperate mid-management types frantically trying to prove their worth and keep their jobs. Coming with ridiculous schemes to save 0.02 cents per unit cost to present at the next big board meeting. Totally clueless about what is "hip" or "now", but pushing their notions anyhow.

I don't know if this can be compared to the "Grandpa Simpson Syndrome". Once, such changes in products and services did flow at a generational pace. "It were so much nicer in my day". Roll your eyes at Grandad. Currently, these changes come not by the decade, but annually. It's a 30 year old complaining to a 25 year old.

Once I would feel your pain about losing a restaurant. That area in me is long gone. Restaurants come and go like leaves on the trees. And even if the same sign remains over the door, the staff inside rotate like mayflies. If I get a dozen reliable, yummy meals in a restaurant before it all changes, I feel myself quite amazed and lucky.

RCP said...

Rant on, Ken!

My two cents: Items from a junk food childhood - candy bars, Hostess Fruit Pies, etc. - that are now half the size they used to be but 10x the price. (And it's not that I'm bigger).

Products like macaroni and cheese with "Made with Real Cheese!" on the package - we're supposed to be grateful?

Drivers who can't be bothered to use turn signals.

Oh, and the state of the world.

Ronnie The Ranter (UK) said...

You ought to try being a vegan. Almost weekly some product you enjoyed appears with the dreaded words: "New improved recipe!" Which 99.9% of the time means their new wizz-kid head chef (probably 15 years old and fresh out of catering night college) has stuck egg in it. Not to mention takeovers. 10 years ago Linda McCartney's Vegetarian range were taken over by Heinz and they immediately stuck egg in everything vegan so even Linda's own (vegan) son couldn't eat his mom's products. In their favour they have now taken the egg out again, recently.

Fry's Chocolate Creams have been vegan since the stone-age but were taken over a few years ago and production moved to France where they can't guarantee they now haven't got milk in them.

Ditto Green & Black's Chocolate.

And, this was the crime of the century: Smash changed their "instant mashed potato" from magical chunks that swelled and turned into mash in a mysterious whirl that I swear no CGI could replicate, to a dull powder.

And they did stick milk powder in it for a while to make it "easier" for their customers who liked to make it with milk instead of water - (like it was too difficult to pour in some milk instead of water?) but I assume their sales plummeted as they took the milk out again a year ago.

Like the Kit Kat, I suspect this was to distract people away from the lack of magical chunks.

The latest culprit is Co-Op Low Fat Salad Cream. "New Improved Recipe!"...

PatGLex said...

Have to agree on the Wendy's fries. I used to love the fact that their fries actually had some potato substance. Now everyone's fries are crusty grease and little potato taste.

And I remember when Pantene shampoo disappeared; poof! off the market. After a protest, they brought it back. And it's worthless. I've ended up with the cheapest shampoo I can find;; it does the job just fine.

Bill P. said...

You know, I was skeptical about the idea to let Andy Rooney guest blog for you, but it works really well. Good call, Ken.

Johanna said...

I spent twenty minutes in the grocery store today reading labels of cranberry juice bottles.

Which ingredient was I looking for in my cranberry juice? Cranberry Juice.

I couldn't find one, out of about a dozen brands, that actually contained cranberry juice....lotsa apple and grape with cranberry flavor, though.

Jonathan said...

Too bad about the Bean with Bacon soup. haven't had it in years, but it was always my all-time favorite. And what needed to be "improved"? Beans + Bacon = Good.

Oh well, nostalgia isn't what it used to be, either.

Cap'n Bob said...

The Army. Now, with co-ed basic training, the drill sergeants can't cuss and recruits can ask for a time out if they're overwhelmed.

Cap guns. They were beautiful when I was a kid, with Gene or Roy or Hoppy on on the grips and as realistic looking as possible. And they were metal. Now, you get pathetic non-gun lumps of plastic with red tips. A few kids shot every year in order to have neato cap guns sounds like a fair trade off in my book.

chas said...

The one that really irritates me is toothpaste. It seems like they change the names and packaging every month. Try to find the same one on consecutive trips to the drugstore or market. I find my preferred brand and flavor about one in every for trips, so I stock up.

Sardine Mama said...

Totally agree with the ketchup. I have five kids and with that new freaking ketchup bottle it is superty stressful at mealtimes...everyone winces and clenches and squints and cringes, and just when you think it's safe and nothing is gonna come out - splat!! Everywhere. But how come nobody is complaining about Oreos?? When I was a kid I would twist open the Oreo like a normal person but then, instead of licking it like an idiot, I would take great care to "peel" the entire beautiful white little pad of white stuff off of the cookie - ta da! It was satisfying in the way that pulling a table cloth out from under a full set of dishes without breaking any would be satisfying. Then I would put the entire little unbroken pad of white stuff in my mouth and throw away the cookies because they left unappealing black chocolate cookie chunks on your teeth. Now? I don't know what the white stuff is, but you can't peel it up. It doesn't stay in one piece. You can't even curl up an edge. I'm highly suspicious that they took the freaking lard out and replaced it with something unlardish but equally unhealthy. I won't even look at an Oreo now - what's the point? And if you don't care....I suspect you were/are a licker...which is clearly a substandard (but now definitely a last resort) way of handling the white stuff in an Oreo.

Hot in Cleveland said...

I also agree with XM radio. You used to be able to listen online for free before the merge. Now I listen to Pandora for free (until I reach my monthly free allowance). Then I go to AOL radio. All the money I spend on XM for 2 radios and they have the nerve to charge me to listen online!

Nathan said...

1. I don't have any problem posting pictures to Blogger using Firefox. (I'm sure you find that really helpful.)

2. Facebook just announced "Sponsored Stories" ads. Yeah...you gotta love that idea. Look at me mom, I'm a paid endorser; just without the paid part. (http://tinyurl.com/5sfh6er)

3. But I suppose the most shocking part of your post is...They still make Necco? Holy Shit.

Gary said...

Bill P. hit it on the head... Welcome to the blog, Andy! Very entertaining!

Tomorrow: Keith Olbermann?

jbryant said...

The last Peanut M&Ms I had didn't taste right. Maybe they were out of date.

I so like the "Throwback" soft drinks -- I guess you'd call them "Old and Improved" -- Pepsi and Mountain Dew with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Also "Heritage" Dr. Pepper.

Barbara said...

Chocolate covered Altoids...where the hell did they go? I demand answers!

Larry said...

I'm with everyone else on Wendy's fries. For some reason, over the past decade or two, almost every fast food place has systematically replaced their good fries with bad (but more "natural") fries. Now Wendy's, one of the last places that had decent fries, has gone under. I don't see any reason to go there any more.

tb said...

No more 'Big Bacon Omelette' at IHOP. What? That was my favorite! With the parmesan cheese. Bastards!

Mark said...

Thanks for mentioning Bean with Bacon soup. I've been eating that stuff for years, and lately I thought I was going crazy.

Anonymous said...

Ken, Target sells their house brand of ginger snaps. I refuse to pay $5 for a box of Nabisco Ginger Snaps. Target's price is about $1.50 for a bit less, but they taste very good. Not too sweet, with just enough pepper bite.

Dear Hubby is really pissed at Necco. He didn't mind the chocolate thing too much, but when they changed the regular Necco wafers, he was apoplectic.

Another change that happened a few years ago was Kraft's Macaroni & Cheese Deluxe. This has the foil pouch of liquid (?) cheese. They changed the recipe of the cheese and it is really awful.

Pam aka SisterZip

Bob Claster said...

It started when they cut back on the salt in Mister SALTY pretzels. You'd think that someone who's buying Mister SALTY pretzels has already decided that, all things considered, he doesn't mind the health risk, and likes his pretzels salty. That's why he chose Mr. SALTY pretzels. After a while, the pretzels became less popular (maybe because, with less salt, they weren't as good), and were phased out. Now nobody makes pretzels that are nice and salty anymore.

Charles H. Bryan said...

It gets on my nerves that I don't complain as well as I used to. What the hell happened to me, anyway?

benson said...

Nestle's Quick. Less sugar, no more wonderful grainy-ness in ice cold milk, nowhere near as good as it used to be.

It's all those damned do-gooders. Too much sugar, too much fat, too much everything. Newsflash. We're all going to die. Deal.

Dawn Marie said...

Girl Scout Cookies Scot-Teas used to be yummy. Now whatever passes for shortbread tastes just awful. I dare not try the Thin Mints.

Mike said...

Ken,

I love you and your blog, and I am not about to argue any of your points.

But you sound so very, very old right now.

Love,
M

Ruth Harris said...

I'm stunned that no one has mentioned the crappy new politician-approved light bulbs. They don't give enough light even tho the lies on the package says they do...75 watts doesn't give 75 watts worth of light any more no matter what they say.

And don't even start me on non-phosphate politician-approved Cascade.

These two gems to supposedly protect the environment. But you use twice as much and they still suck!

K-E-L-L-Y said...

Hi Ken: Whole Foods 365 Brand makes a decent Gingersnap with real ginger. Tastes great AND the price is right. Necco's shoulda left their sweet treats alone. But, noooooo. Whenever I buy Necco's or Chuckles, I feel like I am committing a misdemeanor. It's just wrong, but I like the chemicals laced with sugar. Kinda like those pink Snowballs made by Hostess. Don't wanna know the ingredient list. That would ruin everything. I do realize that these items are NOT food and are perhaps just suggest I am a sleigh ride away from an Oxycodone fix. I also wish God or whomever didn't mess around/tweak the man with whom I sleep . His balls were "up there" but now they are hanging "down here". Droopy and stuff. Things keep a changing. Also, my New Balance running shoes seem slightly different. Sincerely, Kelly from CHEERS

MrEd said...

If you don't like the way Coke tastes anymore, try Coca-Cola that's bottled in Mexico (which I get at Costco). It's made with real sugar and tastes just like it did when I was a kid. You can thank me later.

Tim W. said...

For the last 17 years, my wife and I have gone to the same restaurant for brunch on Christmas dad. We started the first year we moved to Vancouver and when we had kids, brought them in on the tradition. It's a nice restaurant, but not incredibly expensive. This year, I got the bill and was horrified. Literally twice the price as last year, and for basically the same dishes. $75 for two adults and two young kids (who don't eat much, quite frankly) with no alcohol and not including the tip. That might have been the last time we go there, unfortunately.

Doktor Frank Doe said...

Well the damned reasons things like this are changing is simple. The people that know something are being replaced by idiots that don't. These idiots are usually in the age range of 22-32 that somehow got a job making decisions and actually think after all-these-friggin-years THEY'LL be the revolutionary individual that makes things better. They're stupid, but they're cheap and they're plentiful and NOBODY seems to give a rat's ass about quality and customer service anymore, so it's easy now for them (Corporations) to tread water in an iron raft.

I can't explain coke, nobody can, that could only be a CEO on the original formula. Meanwhile the world is imploding around us with idiots now in control and things are a changin.

What I want to know is why the "F" can't Jack in the Box bring back the Bonus Jack and just leave it on the menu? Why does it have to be "seasonal" and seasonal defined in San Diego seems to be "any few months now and then" as comes to a thought bubble in that big plastic head.

LASTLY, when In & Out proliferates based on a fundamental ideal that change is NOT good, why do you suppose nobody else can grasp that idea and give it shot?

YEKIMI said...

Here's my 5 cents worth [Up from 2 cents, inflation you know]

COCA-COLA: It should come in glass bottles only! I don't know what happens to it when they put it in cans or plastic bottles but it tastes like shit! The area groceries around here stock it in a six pack of 8 oz glass bottles but you got to get there pretty early to grab it before it sells out. Half a football field of unsold Coke products on the shelves and they allot one measly row for the glass bottle Coke. And bring back the 16 oz GLASS bottle of Coke...and if possible charge 10 cents for it like I used to pay back in the 60s.

XM Radio: Used to be good until Sirius bought it and Mel Karmazin decided to fuck it up just like he did with CBS Radio. Why should I pay to hear the same damn songs that i can hear for FREE on any FM Station in the country? I listened to XM for the "WOW" factor...hearing a song that I literally hadn't heard in decades.

YEKIMI said...

More of my 5 cents worth:

NECCO Wafers: Always thought their chocolate tasted like Hulk Hogan's sweaty armpit.

IC CREAM: WTF happened here? Used to be able to buy a gallon of it, now it's down to a pint and a half for TRIPLE the price! Sure, I could buy a 5 gallon bucket of some off-brand ice cream but it usually tastes like spackling compound and only is good for sealing driveway cracks in the winter.

I'm waiting for the day some marketing genius comes up with a grocery store that just sells bags/boxes of empty air and charges you for the privilege of buying it....and I'm sure there would be people out there that would pay it.

DwWashburn said...

Game Show Network. In its early years it had the entire Goodson Todman library. They devoted Sunday night to black and white game shows. Now it's either Deal or No Deal, modern Family Feuds, or sucky shows produced by GSN themselves.

MSNBC is heading that way with the firing / removal of Keith Olbermann. I've got a feeling that Comcast wants to turn the station into a Fox News clone. Fear and biased.

As far as consumer products go, I think soft drinks in general were screwed up when they eliminated returnable glass bottles.

Buttermilk Sky said...

The Great American Packaging Conspiracy. Pill bottles that can only be opened by the nimble fingers of children. Coke bottles with stupid little feet that balance precariously in the refrigerator. CDs that require a special tool HMV used to sell but probably doesn't any more. Oreos in that "reclosable" package that makes all the cookies inaccessible except the ones in the center of the middle row. Bread that get instantly stale unless you put the loaf in a ziplock bag. Ziplock bags. Yes, rehyxpu, Mr. Levine, my verification word says it all. Rehyxpu!

Damn clouds...

Roger Owen Green said...

#the new light bulbs
#the food containers that contain less food, hidden by trickery such as indenting the bottom of the packaging
#American Idol

normadesmond said...

in case you don't know this:

GO TO TRADER JOE'S.
BUY A TUB OF "TRIPLE GINGER COOKIES."

you'll never think about nabisco again.

The Milner Coupe said...

Double Features

Baseball with at least 50% of the sam line up for a few years.

TV producers cutting away for commercials between plays in football.

Former players who use their 'color man' status to criticize every decision and play.

Fast food in general has always BEEN shit but now it tastes like it.

The Green Burrito out in the valley.

Bob's Big Boy

Newscasters basically reading tweets instead of stories.

Graphic illustrations during vagina related product commercials (ladies, you know how they work, keep it a secret)

America in general. We had it right a while ago, now it's out of control.

Now I'm depressed. Way to go Ken.

Rachel said...

Quilted Northern double roll toilet paper! It's now not as wide or as thick. The whole reason I bought it is so I wouldn't have to change the roll as often. Their reason for change is it's "50 percent stronger." I never had problems before!

Lifesavers 5 flavors roll. They replaced orange, lemon and lime with the gross-flavored raspberry, watermelon and blackberry.

I hate change. :-)

34 and already feeling old.

Thanks for letting us all vent our rants!

Anonymous said...

With your Seattle roots, I'm surprised you hadn't heard about the dish detergent fiasco those guys hoisted on the country.

Has nothing to do with Cascade, and instead is all dish detergents.

Phillip B said...

Doktor Frank got me. Had to stop reading twice to catch my breath and then read the whole thing aloud to savor the rant. Well done!

My knee jerks whenever anyone sends me anything starting with the phrase "for your convenience." For your convenience the bank will now be closed on Saturday mornings; for your convenience we've reduced the number of elevators in the building from four to one; for your convenience your parking area will be under construction the next two years....

Graham Crackers. My spouse is unable to find just plain graham crackers on a shelf of crackers flavored with honey, or cinnamon, or chocolate, or soy sauce, or mesquite.

And the flavor of all sodas changed when real sugar left the building to be replaced by sweetened corn syrup. Sure the cost of a six pack of Coke could triple in a week, but now we're smuggling this shit across the Mexican border. Some guys are even moving in cases of fully sugared Sprite, for christsakes..

So we've just workshopped a fresher script for Shit My Dad Says a damned sight better than any of the crap I've seen in the precious few minutes I've been able to watch it. Damned sight better!

Spatch said...

As a New Englander who grew up on Necco Wafers, worked in the same neighborhood as the Necco factory and who now lives a stone's throw from a movie theater that stocks 'em in the concession stand, all I can say is I'm sorry. Every now and then one of them outtatownahs gets into Necco and suggests change, not knowing that change is the one thing New Englanders fear most. We do our best to resist change and cling to the ways of the old. There's the old joke about how street directions in Boston include phrases like "Hang a right where the Dunkin Donuts used to be" only it's not a joke because it's real. (We navigate by landmarks, not street signs, so things like GPS devices only serve to confuse and mystify.)

So it is with Necco. Someone comes in to change something, New Englanders pitch a fit. And rightly so! The chocolate Necco wafer is a delicacy unmatched by any other candy. It was the reward for slogging through the other vaguely minty fruity clovey wafers. Ah! Here's a chocolate one. Relax and enjoy it. Take your time, your next one is licorice. To change this recipe is to flirt with disaster and honestly, the world doesn't need more chocolate-like Necco flavors. Do we?

I can only hope Necco keeps putting out rolls of Only Chocolate (and only the "real" chocolate flavor at that) to satisfy the cranky New England palate. We're loyal to the products we love (which explains why the Sky Bar is still in existence) but are quick to scorn when our loves try to branch out a bit.

And for what it's worth, I miss Lemon Cooler cookies. Shortbread cookies dusted with powdered sugar and lemony flavor. Sunshine used to make 'em until they were bought out. My grandma always had them for us, so I have very fond memories associated with 'em. There are recipes floating around on the web to make your own but it just isn't the same, darnit.

A_Homer said...

These anectdotes on remembering another taste or sense of value to a product are always so strong and specific -- which makes me wonder how a company doesn't realize that built-in obscolesence (to move the consumer to the "improved" version) is never worth exchanging for brand loyalty towards a solid product. Sure, it's more about a shell-game they play with portions and filler. That said, when I travel in Europe, the same Kit Kat can taste like the most exquisite chocolate (around Switzerland for example) while back in the U.S.... well, not.

Jerry Rancher said...

You used to be able to buy a box of Lemonheads. Chewy, tart, perfect.

In the last year, that product has been replaced by something called "Lemonhead and Friends." Translation: 1/4th Lemonheads and 3/4ths other flavors. And since when was Mr. Lemonhead a beloved personality who had adventures or a cast of supporting characters? It's a fucking candy. Should the Three Musketeers adopt a talking dog?

Kill the friends, dissolve their flavorful bodies in an iron smelter, and let Larry Lemonhead spend the rest of his life alone and friendless.

Matt Tauber said...

Every one who hates the new Wendy's fries is WRONG. I used to avoid Wendy's because of their fries. Once I even wondered, am I eating fries made of cloth? Now I go more often because they taste more like McDonald's fries. YUM.

Naz said...

A future trade I will hate is the replacing of Regis Philbin.

Anonymous said...

Um...hello? Lawn JARTS? Also, I thought Necco wafers were only for throwing into the toll booths to escape paying the $.25.

PatGLex said...

Have to agree with Philip B. re: the "For your convenience" phrase. At the retail store I work at part time, the cashier, when announcing the store will close soon, ends with "For your convenience the store will be open tomorrow at 9 a.m." What a crock! If the store WAS open for "my convenience" it would be open 24-7 and wouldn't close at 9 p.m.!

I determined earlier this week that I have become a misanthrope.

Charles H. Bryan said...

@Jerry Rancher

That was funny. Thanks.

I have one actual gripe about things that have changed. It's not an original gripe, but I miss TV theme songs.

Part of the fun of The Big Bang Theory is that there are actual funny lyrics, over and above some horsecrap "tra-la-la-la-la: hey-we're-a-showwww" or eight notes and a title graphic like we get nowadays. The vanity cards are supposed to be at the END of the broadcast.

(And "Men, men, men, mennnnnn" doesn't count, especially when I think it's a semi-ripoff of an old Martin Mull song.)

Gnasche said...

Thanks for reminding me of Brent Spiner delivering the punchline: "We ate the Necco Wafers"

VP81955 said...

I rant about TV pro football coverage -- too many closeup shots of quarterbacks, even when they're not involved in the particular play! If you're going to do that, you might as well change the NFL to a punt, pass and kick competition between quarterbacks, although I bet none of them today could do all three as well as Sammy Baugh did.

Henry D said...

I need a good rant.

Sardines! I know. They are the Rodney Dangerfield of foods. But I love them and here's the problem: they aren't packed like sardines anymore. They just stick three in a can with lots of room between them. That's just wrong.

And what's with those public toilet paper dispensers that only allow you to pull out a single sheet at a time -- and you have to contort your hand to even get the single sheet. Sorry, but one sheet isn't enough for a hygienic wipe.

And speaking of bathrooms, what's with all the nudity in gym locker rooms? Guys are peeing naked, blowing their hair naked, I even saw a guy blow dry is pubes with the gym hairdryer! It's a locker room, not a nudist colony. Simple rule. You can be naked if you're changing your clothes, otherwise, wrap a towel around your waist.

But I do like Wendy's new fries.

Anonymous said...

@Matt: If you want McDonald's fries, go to a fucking McDonald's. Leave my Wendy's fries alone!

Jeffrey Leonard said...

One thing that HAS improved is...a certain "Levine" will be back on the airwaves of Seattle. Not everything has gotten worse.

Dave Arnott said...

Oreos: I have no idea why the "white stuff" may have changed (or even *if* it really did), but I can tell you that it never had lard in it. Oreos have always been, and continue to be, vegan*

*(technically the sugar is not strict vegan; the cookie is definitely vegetarian, though)

Coke: New Coke was when they switched from cane sugar to high fructose corn syrup, right? So even though they went back to the "old formula," they kinda didn't.

Mexican Coke: not all Mexican coke is made with cane sugar, an increasing amount is being made with HFCS. Check that label carefully, especially if the glass bottle does NOT look old and recycled :)

I wish comedians still made albums, and by "albums" I mean CDs (though I still have and occasionally enjoy my record collection, I'm quite happy with the new tech in this area). Sadly, most new comics just put out DVDs, now. And if there's a companion CD, it's often $5+ more than the DVD :P

And I'm surprised Bob "Salty" Claster did not also rant on about NyQuil and Sudafed.

Barbie said...

I finally tracked down a box of Post's Alpha-Bits last year and was sad to learn a) the "trusted brand" featured a "new great tasting formula," (wrong) and b) no longer sold the marshmallow version!

Not Anonymous said...

I'll take @Buttermilk Sky's rant on the Great American Packaging Conspiracy even further--even if a product hasn't changed and I love it, when I go to buy it again it takes 40 minutes to hunt through the shelves to find it because the "New Improved" packaging is a different color and uses a font closely related to Comic Sans but harder to decipher. And, as you point out, the packaging has gotten downright obstructionist and even dangerous to your health.

Ah, that feels better. Let the crankiness out.

WV: pyogging. First there was blogging. Then vlogging. You don't want to know what you have to do to be a pyogger.

Gerald Rude said...

Things that have changed for the worse, how about textbook binding? I am a physics student and am forced to buy these horribly bound textbooks at over $150 a pop. Students in this field pour over these texts and take them everywhere. One semester in a backpack and the modern textbook will disintegrate into a pile of toilette paper.

When you look at the textbooks published in the 70s and 80s, there are a few things you will notice. First, the pages are still attached to the cover. This is the first thing to go with the few hardback texts still distributed. A month of use and the text will have it's pages hanging off of the spine. The only thing preventing total sepperation being those two glued on pieces of paper on the front and back covers. With the trade paper backs the situation is even worse. The binding on these texts crack in a few weeks. This usually results in the book splitting entirely in half.

The second thing you will notice about the books printed in the 70s and 80s is the remarkably solid heft of the text, as well as the high quality paper used by the publisher. It seems that the publishers will do everything they can to foist this poor quality paper down our throats. They will even try to market this as a "green" book due it being made from recycled paper. Yes, the paper is recycled. Does it have to be rough as sandpaper, and so incredibly thin that a highlighter will bleed all the way through and highlight 3 pages at once? I am all for recycling, however a textbook which costs as much as a netbook computer is not the place for it.

I feel like a sucker buying these poorly bound hunks of junk every semester. I try to buy the older texts used when I can because I know they will last. Why is it that textbooks cost so much more today (even when one includes the rate of inflation) yet the quality of the binding is so much worse? It is a scam. I want it to go back to the way it was before.

Thank you for posting such a wonderful column. MASH and Cheers are my two favorite sitcoms and coming here and reading how these shows were made is enjoyable.

Cheers,
Gerald Rude

Rhoda Weinstein said...

Uneeda biscuits are gone for all time. I spent months hunting for them until finally told the truth. Jam on a Uneeda biscuit was heaven and always a hit with kids.

Tom Quigley said...

Main pet peeve right now: WGN America not playing episodes from the last two seasons of CHEERS often enough -- Did you hear that, Kelly from CHEERS? :-)

Mike McCann said...

Thanks for the tip on Cascade... I thought our dishwasher was bad. Now, instead of the $105 "call fee" for a repairman, I'll just buy a bottle of Cascade's competition for 1/20th of that.

Betty Furness would be proud of you.

kaleberg7 said...

Coca Cola reformulated Coke to remove cocaine twice. First, back around 1904, when cocaine was outlawed as a narcotic. It was replaced by a non-narcotic extract that was being manufactured by Stepan Laboratories in New Jersey well into the 1980s. The narcotic component was used in pharmaceutical, primarily for eye surgery. In the mid-80s, Coca Cola reformulated again, and removed the cocaine extract. When they released Classic, it did not have the cocaine extract in it, but a synthetic variant.

(They also removed the cane sugar which is why I quit drinking it.)

chuckcd said...

I worked with Joe Tripoli, who was the organist at Angel Stadium when Disney took over. They fired him for no reason (unless mighty Disney wanted to save a couple dollars),
and replaced him with canned music.
Later, in typical Disney fashion, they hired a new organist who was half as good as Joe.