Dear Kraft Foods:

I was ALREADY angry with you. I have been ever since you made the bone-headed decision a few years back to discontinue sales of your classic Chicken Noodle Dinner - a move which I still consider to be a personal insult to me and my family. 

That delicious dinner in the little brown box had been an important staple of mealtime in the Small Household for as far back as I could remember. More than merely an easy-to-make side dish that went with almost everything, it was an important and cherished family tradition that my parents bequeathed to me, and that my wife and I had passed on to our two sons, and which we fully expected they in turn would one day hand down to yet a fourth generation... until you decided to yank it away from us without even so much as a “by your leave.”   

I grew up believing that as long as we had at least one box of your Chicken Noodle Dinner in the cupboard, then all was right with the world. I derived a great deal of comfort from that belief. And I don’t mind admitting that I shed a tear when I learned that I would never again have the opportunity to enjoy the taste of that golden goodness, or savor the aroma of it simmering on the stove.

Believe me, that loss was traumatic enough by itself. But it pales in comparison to the news that greeted us this week. Because now you’ve done more than simply break the hearts of a single family. You’ve shoved a fork right into the heart of America itself.

And what’s worse, you act as if we ought to be applauding you for having done so.

America has long been known for its spirit of ingenuity and inventiveness. We broke away from our mother country in a manner which history had never witnessed, and became a beacon of creativity for the world. We gave that world the light bulb, the telephone, rock and roll and Luke Skywalker. We landed a man on the moon - not just once but several times - and brought him home safely to enjoy the virtues of cable television and those little rolls of hard candy with the hole in the center. America’s questing spirit is the very cornerstone of her national identity.

At the same time, however, we are a nation that places great value upon a little thing called TRADITION. We didn’t like it when a couple of unknown look-alikes replaced the popular stars of The Dukes Of Hazzard. We reacted with great disdain when “New Coke” was forced upon us back in the 1980s. We wept bitter tears a couple of years back when it looked as if Twinkies had gone the way of the dinosaur, and rejoiced when they were returned to us a little while later.

We don’t mind change... but total upheaval is another thing altogether. Which explains the loud, anguished cry of “NNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” that accompanied this week’s news that you plan to change the recipe to your single most popular product: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

Starting next January, we were told this past Monday, the two kinds of yellow dye that has given your cheese sauce its famous gooey yellow-orange look since 1937 will be replaced with natural ingredients like paprika, annatto and turmeric. You have promised that this change will have no effect on how your Mac and Cheese actually tastes. I’ve heard promises like that before; I can’t think of a single one that ever turned out to be true.

Why the change, we asked? Because it will be good for us, you said. Translation: You people knuckled under to the health nuts. Those people who would rather have us eat rice cakes that taste like cardboard than a fresh out-of-the-oven cinnamon roll. The same sort of cretins who fought for so long to do away with our beloved tradition of Saturday morning cartoons. 

Why can’t people like that mind their own #@%! business?

Okay, I get that we all need to eat healthier. Exhibit A: The reflection I saw staring back at me in the bathroom mirror this morning. But will taking away this most beloved of our comfort foods really make it a better world?

I just don’t see it.

There is a solution that can make both sides of the argument happy, if you have the guts to make it. Let those of us who love it keep our traditional Mac and Cheese, but go ahead and introduce a separate variety with this new recipe of yours in order to appease the food police. The precedent is already there; in the past you have given us Mac and Cheese with white Cheddar sauce, Three Cheese sauce and whole grain pasta, not to mention all those different kid-friendly variations sporting noodles in the shape of spirals and pinwheels and characters from Peanuts, Scooby-Doo, Spongebob Squarepants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Surely there’s room on the store shelves for yet one more choice to make your health-conscious customers happy without punishing the rest of us who still know a good thing when we see, smell and taste it. (Maybe you could put it where the classic Chicken Noodle Dinner boxes used to be...)

That seems the best, most logical course of action... but I don’t think for one cheesy moment that you’ll have the courage to make it. It’s easier to simply bow to the whims of those heartless Grinches who wish to rob future generations of yet one more of the simple joys of life their parents and grandparents loved so dearly. 

So much for tradition. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to run to the store and stock up on the real stuff while there's still some to be had.


A Disgruntled Customer.

P.S. By the way, for what it’s worth, I’ve never liked Miracle Whip...