The Most Controversial Snack Food And Drink Changes

The Most Controversial Snack Food And Drink Changes

We often create a very strong connection to the foods and drinks we eat, particularly when it comes to snack foods and soft drinks.

Part of the reason for this is that, unlike the meals we choose to cook or take time to prepare, cheap snacks are impulsive and are there to fill a very immediate need.

As well as this, snacks are something we have a lot more choice and control of from an early age, so we have firm connections to our choices.

To many people, a chocolate bar, or a soft drink represent more than the food itself, but a feeling of fun, or freedom or other values we hold dear, something that snack makers are more than happy to indulge.

However, sometimes manufacturers will make a change too far. Perhaps they removed a cult favourite flavour or changed a recipe that has seemingly stood since the dawn of time. Maybe people have noticed that the bar is distinctly smaller than it used to be.

Whatever the case, here are the most controversial changes to the drinks and snacks we love.

Irn Bru

Scotland’s other national drink is utterly adored in Scotland, to the point that it is the third best selling soft drink in the UK, only behind the two big guns in Coca Cola and Pepsi.

As such, people, especially in Scotland, tend to be fairly protective of the rusty looking distinctive drink made in Lanarkshire, which is part of the reason why the 2018 formula change was particularly controversial.

In 2018, the UK instituted a sugar tax, causing many manufacturers to change their formula to avoid the 18p per litre surcharge experienced by full-sugar Coca Cola. A.G. Barr, the manufacturers of Irn Bru, did the same, and some people were not happy with this.

Whether it tastes noticeably different or not is a matter of personal opinion, but in any event, there were campaigns to reverse the change and fans stocked up on the original formula to tide them over.

Whilst other companies moved to low-sugar and zero-sugar formulations Irn Bru’s was by far the most controversial.



Owned by the same parent company as Cadbury, Toblerone is a chocolate bar that is almost entirely defined by the festive season, often making for an indulgent tasting gift.

However, to lower costs due to increased ingredient prices in 2016, Mondelez infamously removed two of the peaks and increased the gaps between them, creating a rather stark and sad looking bar.

To say it was not well received was an understatement, and led to a Member of Scottish Parliament launching a motion to try and get the original bar back.

The change lasted two years, the Toblerone returned to its original shape, increasing the size and price instead of altering the look.



This is a borderline example and depends on whether you see the Dairy Milk Bubbly brand as similar enough to Wispa, but the change proved that people’s connection to products are more than formulation or size.

Cadbury are no stranger to controversial changes, with the alterations to Creme Eggs causing considerable complaints and costing the company nearly £10m in sales. This, along with the constantly increasing price of Freddos has highlighted Cadbury as a magnet for controversial changes.

Cadbury wanted to turn their flagship Dairy Milk into a family brand that the majority of their other main chocolate bars would come under, except for the white chocolate Dream.

This lead to Dairy Milk Buttons, Dairy Milk Caramel and Dairy Milk Fruit & Nut, which were largely uncontroversial. However, the attempt to change the cult favourite Wispa bar into Dairy Milk Bubbly caused significant consternation.

Several online campaigns were set up in the early era of online petitions, and it even led to a stage invasion at Glastonbury. Eventually, the bar was set to be re-released in limited quantities in 2007, although this was simply a prelude to a permanent return in 2008.

Wispa and Dairy Milk Bubbly now share the same shelf, proving that even after controversial situations you can return to some kind of harmony.


New Coke

Perhaps the single most controversial change in soft drink history, Coca-Cola’s ill-fated attempt at changing their core drink to taste more like Pepsi was meant to stand the test of time, but ultimately just 79 days later the new formula was back on store shelves.

Arguably the issue with New Coke wasn’t its taste but the sheer audacity that it replaced a drink so many people had formed an attachment to.

However, whilst New Coke was a failure, much like the Wispa relaunch, it reconnected a certain group of people with a drink they found a lot more value in than just its taste.