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Dye Another Day: Kraft Switches from Artificial Colors to Natural Spices


mac and cheese

At the beginning of March, Kraft-Heinz pulled the ultimate magic trick by ripping a rug from under the feet of consumers who didn’t even know they were standing on one. That’s right—for the past few months, Kraft has been sneakily swapping the artificial dyes (yellow dye 5 and 6) used in their famous blue-boxed mac and cheese with all-natural spices: paprika, turmeric, and annatto (the lattermost used to color orange cheddars for a couple hundred years).

How Kraft has changed
The box of Kraft gone by.
New but still blue
The new Kraft Blue Box, now with a check list.

“As we considered changing the ingredients of our classic Blue Box, we did so knowing we had to maintain our iconic look, taste and texture,” says Greg Guidotti, Kraft Heinz’s vice president of meals. “We’d invite Americans to try our new recipe, but they most likely already have.” The idea was to do a “blind taste test” by replacing the boxes on the shelves and scanning for a reaction before the reveal. “The comments are no more or no less,” he concluded.

While this has been a long time coming, many feared the change by Kraft, believing the swap in ingredients would lead to a sharp change in taste and texture. Kraft has made this idea the leading point in its latest advertising campaign with the slogan, “It changed. But it hasn’t.” The most interesting thing about this shift is how it is entirely for the consumer. You’d only be able to tell something was different if you looked on the back of the box—not even the impressive 1,710 mg of sodium (72% of your recommended daily intake) per box has been altered.

Kraft isn’t the first company to take the step away from artificial ingredients. Due to public outcry, companies like Subway have also switched over to ensuring natural ingredients are all that can be found in their food. Subway’s case was a little more severe as they were choosing to strengthen their bread with azodicarbonamide, an additive also found in yoga mats and shoe rubber.

No matter what has been put in the product, it’s always satisfying to see a company stepping up to make it better for the consumer. Kraft had also announced they would be switching to using cage-free eggs, a really important step for such a large corporation. So, here’s to the evolution of Kraft mac and cheese—may the bright orange gooeyness carry me to my rest.

Cary Spector

Cary is a BFA Writing, Literature and Publishing Major at Emerson College. When not enjoying the luxuries of cheese and other dairy, he can most likely be found making guacamole. "If there are avocados, there will be guac,” as he always says.