The Real Reason Kraft Mac & Cheese Doesn't Taste The Same Anymore

What happens when you take a perennial family favorite, get rid of artificial dyes (known in the food industry as yellows No. 5 and 6), and replace that with paprika, annatto, and turmeric? You get artificial ingredient-free Kraft Mac and Cheese.

Company officials had said Kraft's decision to ditch the artificial colors came after careful consideration. "We constantly talk to our consumers and get feedback from them, and we knew they wanted to feel better about the ingredients they serve their families," Kraft-Heinz's vice president of meals Greg Guidotti told Eater. "We saw an opportunity in the marketplace to improve our ingredient line, but we didn't want [to] make the change before we had the right recipe."

The decision wasn't taken lightly, because Guidotti also told Eater that it took the company three years before they were comfortable with a new formula. And to make sure the healthier formula would not be badly received, they did the switch a month early. "We knew the recipe still tasted just as good as you expect from Kraft, but whenever you say you've changed something, consumers will say it probably won't taste as good," Guidotti said. "Since we knew it tasted exactly the same, we wanted our fans to experience that for themselves without even being prompted."

Kraft announced the switch after what it called 'the world's largest blind taste test'

So when they finally announced the switch, they also confessed to the switcheroo by calling it "the world's largest blind taste test." It seemed to be a success because "fifty million boxes later ... people didn't notice a difference." (Well, they would have, if they had checked the ingredients on the back of the box). 

But some fans did notice (paprika, annatto, and turmeric are spices and have unique flavor profiles after all), and they went on to petition to switch it back to the old recipe. The group called themselves #Wenoticed; their petition (which is still online) only picked up 70 supporters.

Don't think the all-natural flavored Mac and Cheese is any healthier than its predecessor though, because it carries 720 mg of sodium per serving — or about 72 percent of your RDA for salt. They're also still heavily processed, making them as healthy (or unhealthy) as they always were (via CNN).