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Do M&S Percy Pigs really taste any different? What's the fuss?

PUBLISHED: 12:08 07 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:29 07 May 2019

Gelatine free Percy Pigs (l) and originals (r). Picture. LJM

Gelatine free Percy Pigs (l) and originals (r). Picture. LJM

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Percy Pigs are going totally vegetarian - causing outrage with some customers. What other foods taste different these days?

The new, veggie Percys - harder and maybe not as tasty? Picture: LJMThe new, veggie Percys - harder and maybe not as tasty? Picture: LJM

It's been a pig of a week for M&S... I speak, of course, of the uproar caused by turning Percy Pig veggie.

The popular “children's” confectionery − we all know it's the grown-ups who eat them − has a new recipe using vegetarian setting agents rather than pork gelatine.

And there have been bitter complaints from people who are unhappy with the new Percys.

M&S publicity has been upbeat though conciliatory. “Some people have given this a massive thumbs up (or trotters up), but others have got their tail in a spin.

The soft and succulent original Percys. Picture: LJMThe soft and succulent original Percys. Picture: LJM

“M&S wanted as many people as possible to be able to pig out on Percy and that's why the pork gelatine has been removed from the classic Percy pack to make it suitable for veggies. All the other Percy Pig packs were already veggie friendly as well as Colin the Caterpillar, with the classic Percy pack the last to join the veggie party,” says the retailer.

“M&S is recruiting 100 mega fans to form the Percy Pig Panel to vote on whether a special edition, classic Percy pack with the gelatine back in should be introduced.”

An admission that many Percy fans are not entirely happy, I think. But at least M&S is heeding the critics.

And if you're thinking “what's all the fuss about?” you may wish to note the Percy Pig brand is worth an estimated £20million and 200,000 Facebook friends, who, presumably are still happy to bit his ears off.

It looks the same... but it doesn't taste the same. Lynne fails to be revived by Lucozade. Picture: JHIt looks the same... but it doesn't taste the same. Lynne fails to be revived by Lucozade. Picture: JH

Here are some of the comments erstwhile Percy-lovers have posted online (I have not tidied grammar):

“Marks and Spencer have ruined percy pigs they was my fave till they changed them.”

“M&S you made a mistake! The new percy pigs do not taste as good. Keep the original version for meat eaters and keep the veggie version for non meat eaters.”

The Sun newspaper declared it was “hamageddon”... while we might suggest Percy “Apigalypse”.

Marmite - does it spread as well as ever? Picture: LJMMarmite - does it spread as well as ever? Picture: LJM

One tweeter declared the new Percy tastes like “washing up liquid” while another suggested mournfully: “The most sacred confectionery item on the planet is over.”

Meanwhile, presenter Piers Morgan spat out a veggie Percy on Good Morning Britain.

What will happen? I'm hoping Percy will be soon be available in omnivore and herbivore versions.

But consumer sadness is not confined to sweeties.

The blackcurrants are the same but is Ribena? Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe blackcurrants are the same but is Ribena? Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Other products that have been changed for (some people would say) the worse have not reverted to their much-loved originals. And we have to like it or lump it, as they say.

My own big bugbear is Lucozade, which now froths rather than effervesces. While it used to be the only thing I fancied when I was ill with a fever, now, it is the last thing I'd drink.

What did they do? They took around half the glucose based carbs (ie sugar) out. When you're feeble after a bout of flu, you really need those bright orange Lucozade carbs to perk you up. But, it seems, we all have to suffer for reduced sugar. There is a Facebook group called “Bring back original Lucozade recipe”. It has 130 members to date. One assumes many people were too weak to sign up.

Marmite - it tastes the same (although I am about to try the new lower salt variety) but the consistency is runnier and I find it really difficult to spread on to warm toast.

Here are some other thoughts on products that have changed.

• Judy Rimmer writes: “Remember the jingle 'If you want a lot of chocolate on your biscuit, join our Club?' I used to love the thick chocolate coating, which could easily be pulled away and eaten separately.

“But, after forgetting about them for decades, I tried one again more recently, only to find there was a not a lot of chocolate on my biscuit. Admittedly, there were probably fewer calories in my choc's away version of the biscuit, but it just wasn't the same.

As for Walnut Whips, another favourite of my childhood in the 1960s and 70s – where's the walnut? Nestle now makes a vanilla-flavoured “Whip” which does not contain a nut, apparently because nuts have become more expensive and not all of us like them. The walnut version is still made, I am assured, but not so easy to find.”

• Tim Warner on breakfast cereal Special K: “The Kellogg's classic was reshaped from nice little curved flakes sometime back in the 1970-80s and I stopped eating it. Recently, apparently, it was changed again to much uproar…”

Special K was changed in 2013 and fans were mightily upset. One consumer asked at the time: “Is it true they are going to rename Special K to “Not So Special K?”. The recipe was to include barley in addition to the current rice and wheat, and was made with wholegrain.

• Bethany Whymark says: “Ribena – I understand why it couldn't carry on being as sticky, sweet and delicious as it was, but did they have to ruin it so profoundly?”

• Jake Foxford writes... and how I agree with him: “Wagon wheels, every day of the week. Why are they so small now, why's the marshmallow gone all slimy - there should be national outrage.”

• On the other hand, Donna-Louise Bishop, who was disappointed with the change of chocolate in Creme Eggs, does welcome one change: “I have to say, I am delighted that KitKats now do a pink version!”

What favourite foods of yours have changed for the worse? Write to me.

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