As you may know if you are a regular reader of this blog, I suffer from food intolerances. These include dairy, wheat and barley. Sorry to keep banging on about it, but it does seem to keep coming up! Anyway, among other things, this make breakfast a very difficult meal.
The biggest hurdle for breakfast cereal is, of course, milk. However, I overcame this with the discovery of rice milk. How they milk rice I have no idea, I can only imagine that it calls for a very small stool and a lot of patience, but it is not as bad as it sounds.
As for the cereal itself, clearly Shredded Wheat and Weetabix are out of the question, but you would imagine that there are plenty of other options – Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies for example. But no, for reasons best known to Kellogg’s, these contain barley. There are in fact very few suitable cereals.
After almost giving up hope I came across Oatibix Bites. These are little biscuits of oats containing things like honey, raisins or cranberries and are delicious. And they contained no wheat or barley. Excellent – I had them for breakfast pretty much every day for months and never tired of them.
Then, suddenly, back in February, I went to the supermarket to buy some more and the box had a new red strip blazoned across the top saying “new improved recipe, now with wheat”. Nooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!
Now I don’t like to think of myself as a moaner, but on this occasion I was moved to write to the makers, Weetabix, to express my displeasure. The recipe is not improved for me, I said, nor the many other people out there with wheat intolerance or allergies. Please revert to the previous, superb recipe, I implored.
All credit to Weetabix, they responded quickly. But not positively:
“Our goal with this reformulation was to create a better tasting recipe, with a crunchier texture that still provides strong health benefits. The new recipes include… wheat which dramatically improves both the taste and texture of the biscuits.
“The market research we conducted showed a significant preference for the new products over the previous recipes.”
Well then, that was that: who am I to argue with market research?
However, sometimes the customer is right. Last week I received another e-mail, which said:
“Thank you again for taking the time to contact us earlier this year about how unhappy you were when we changed the recipe for Oatibix Bites to include some wheat.
“As we told you at the time, we did so in an effort to improve the product taste and texture experience for our consumers. However, many consumers, like you, had strong views about the change. We listened to your views and as a result I hope you’re delighted to hear that Oatibix Bites is going back to an ALL-OATS recipe.”
Yes! Triumph of consumers over market research!
I will now revert to eating Oatibix Bites provided the recipe is suitable. However, in the meanwhile I have discovered the joy of oat granola, so now they will have to share my custom. The danger, I suppose, of trying something new. If it ain’t broke…