The biggest trend in big food right now seems to be reformulation: axing artificial ingredients and preservatives and doing away with those recently banned trans fats. It’s making our food healthier (even those revelations seem to change every generation or so), but it comes with another issue: It changes the way many long-standing products can look and taste.
It’s a lesson fans of Country Crock have found out the hard way. The unique-tasting butter alternative has always had a bit of a cult following, and after switching to a “NEW! Simple Recipe,” that group of Crock-heads has gone ballistic. Frankly, if what they’re saying is true, I don’t entirely blame them.
“It is truly inedible, smells horrible, and ruins any food you put it in or on,” former Country Crock devotee “Terri” told The Consumerist, who recently dug deep into Crock-gate. Other fans have turned to the company’s website and social media accounts to have their voices heard. “It is not good, in any way. The taste is awful, then there is a thick filmy after taste that is so bad my gag reflex took over,” someone wrote in a one-star review on the Country Crock webpage (which may be a lesson in why you don’t let people write reviews on your official company website).
Country Crock, which is made by Unilever, is standing by their decision, responding to customers with language like this: “Family is at the center of our hearts here in Crock Country. Knowing that family is important to you, too, we wanted our products to have everyday ingredients you can recognize and feel good about giving to your loved ones. Our new simple recipe does just this, while still delivering the country-fresh taste your family knows and loves. We do hope you’ll give us another chance.”
The fact that they’re so adamant about not changing back to their old formula makes you wonder what was in there before. It’s a point customers seem to understand. But even if the recipe had to be changed, many feel the new one was created in haste. “They can’t bring back the old recipe but they should certainly go back to the kitchen and try to get as close as they can,” a customer complained on Facebook.
Country Crock has tried to help ease the transition via their FAQ page, which is now loaded with questions like “Why are these changes being made to Country Crock?” It sounds almost existential.