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Old El Paso isn’t fooling anyone

My friend Mike spotted this packet of taco seasoning with an unintentionally funny callout: “Now! Even Better”

What made us laugh about this? It’s not the misplaced exclamation point (though that’s! pretty funny). It’s funny because the package simply declares the product “better” without saying why. Does it taste better? Is it healthier? Perhaps it contains a new chemical that extends the shelf life? Who knows!

One thing we know is that “Now even better” isn’t an opinion shared by all Old El Paso customers. Some customers have created a thread on a Betty Crocker message board titled “‘New and Improved’ taco seasoning SUCKS!!” More have taken to criticizing the seasoning mix on its product page. (Parent company General Mills markets the Old El Paso brand through its Betty Crocker website, for some reason.)

“This new stuff is awful!” says one customer. “Ruined taco night at our house!,” says another. And: “I hope jobs were lost over this product.” At least one customer has deduced that the main change in the new seasoning formula is the removal of monosodium glutamate (MSG), the hearty flavor enhancer.

* * * *

What’s the lesson here?

Never change anything? No, that’s the lesson we learned (jokingly) from the short-lived white Coke can.

Your customers are whining idiots? No, that attitude gets you nowhere.

I think the lesson is communicate change clearly. Don’t say “Now Even Better” if you can be more specific. A callout on the Betty Crocker site says: “Bolder Flavor. 35% Less Sodium.” They should have put that on the package. That might have helped prime people for the changed flavor of the product.

Of course, it’s possible that the new product just sucks, and no amount of good messaging will get anyone to like it. I haven’t tried the stuff myself, but I count at least 40 reviews of the product on the Betty Crocker site, and most of them express outrage and disappointment.

Then, in the wilderness of people who complain on the Internet about taco seasoning, a voice of reason:

yemoss said: “To all of you who feel cheated by the ‘new’ and unimproved version of the Taco seasoning, I offer a call to arms! Don’t buy their seasonings anymore, instead take pride in your cooking: learn about Mexico’s cuisine and culture, not something in a yellow cardboard box. If you’re buying this stuff and calling it a ‘taco night’ might as well go to taco bell, it’s easier and as unoriginal. Or explore the internet a little & discover authentic ingredients to make your own sauces, seasonings and dishes. Good luck!”

Amen!

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Marketing

18 comments

  1. stephanie says:

    I HATE this new seasoning! I REFUSE to buy ANYTHING from betty crocker! BOYCOTT THEM!

  2. Rob says:

    I can’t believe they changed the recipe, it is “Now! terrible”. Been making tacos with this packet for 10 years, ever Sunday. The day I made it with the “Now Even Better” was the last time. Almost 3 months without Tacos now. Willing to pay whatever price to be able to buy the original “original” formula. They are fools! They ruined a great product!

  3. Jason says:

    I can’t believe how awful the taste was.. I always get two packets to season well.I think I got a double whammy.I will not be buying taco seasoning for a very long time.It’s a shame they couldn’t leave it the same.I grew up on the flavor.Way to go!

  4. Jenna Windham says:

    It’s horrible !! Not the taste my family loves… did they not taste this stuff before letting in out to the public? And it stinks ! Sooooo disappointed !

  5. harold menefee says:

    it is true the new taco seasoning is not good at all. is it possible that they can bring the real original back like it was from the beginning.

  6. Karen says:

    I KNEW they must have changed it– it does indeed suck now.

    I figure they must have doubled the amount of cumin– which is nice in small amounts, utterly nasty-smelling (like B.O.) and overpowering in large ones.

    I’ll be getting Taco Bell seasoning from now on.

  7. Mike says:

    I agree it does suck. What I dont get is why come out and tell people to learn the culture and make it ourselves. Thats what we pay the company for when we buy their products. Its annoying to us about the way they changed it and offered it, not as another product, but this new and improved crap as the same product we come to love. And they failed miserably in the “improvement”. It’s about like it would be annoying to others if their favorite beer was “new and improved” only tasted like crap compared to what it was. Not a good business move in my (and it appears many others as well) opinion.

  8. Sherrie says:

    This new product sucks…worst tacos ever. I have been eating this stuff for decades. The first time I had it I thought I was getting sick. Just had tacos they are awful. Will have to go to Taco Bell because they are better. I am not going to learn how to make the seasoning…that’s why I bought it to begin with..I loved it

  9. Megan says:

    This new product sucks…worst tacos ever. I have been eating this stuff for decades. The first time I had it I thought I was getting sick. Just had tacos they are awful. Will have to go to Taco Bell because they are better. I am not going to learn how to make the seasoning…that’s why I bought it to begin with..I loved it

  10. Sam says:

    I don’t think its the grammer that makes the “Now! even better” laughable. Its the fact that it claimes to be the “original”. The truth is that it tastes like ass compared to old recipe and as you’ve noted people (including me) are furious. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they haven’t released any statement or comments to address the change.

  11. Seth says:

    i am not willing to spend the time learning to make seasoning from scratch, that is why i bought the packets. i will not go to taco bell or some other fast food resturant because that takes away the ability to eat tacos made with lean meat. this recipe is terrible and tastes just like every other brand now. guess tacos just aren’t for me any more. sad really

  12. william says:

    why did you make your new and imprv.taste like 7 11 hot dog toppings? well i guess ill just have 2 use the mccormic taco seasoning anything is better then that alpo flavor that offer now. why f up a good thing.$$$ ???.

  13. ewwww says:

    Omg! The new stuff is horrible! I agree with the user above, it does taste and smell like they dumped in a bunch of cumin. I actually did try and make my own. I researched and found a highly rated recipe and it tastes horrible, just like the new recipe old else oasis put out. I’m so upset!

  14. julie says:

    first time trying it, it’s terrible, my husband said what’s wrong with these, they’re different, then I saw the “new and improved” claim. Won’t be buying this again!

  15. Kris says:

    We just tried the “now even better” tacos and I got through half of a taco and got “hot sick.” Really pissed us off because we have always enjoyed this product. Really good and easy to prepare during the week. Taco night has always been a favorite but now we are changing brands. The flavor was too strong and just plain gross. Whoever was responsible for this marketing change needs to be fired!

  16. Paul says:

    Let me join the choir and say that the new stuff is terrible. It’s a shame because I used to make tacos every couple of weeks but haven’t made them since almost vomiting from the Now! Even Better seasoning.

  17. ryan says:

    Yea the new improved really does suck!!! Almost as much as the original!

  18. Krista says:

    The new recipe sucks. I thought it was just me because I’m pregnant, but something told me I wasn’t crazy. This new stuff tastes nothing like it used to. I’m done buying their seasonings. I used to LOVE Taco Night. And no, it has nothing to do with learning the culture…I’ve tried making my own and have YET to recreate the delicious taste I grew up on. Hmph :(

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