General Question

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

What are some products that used to be good when they first came out, but over the years have lost their quality and are not that good anymore?

Asked by MRSHINYSHOES (13966points) October 8th, 2011

For example, when I was growing up, Worchester sauce used to be thicker and taste richer and spicier than the sauce made today, and the amount of macaroni you get in a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese was more than what you find in a box now. Manufacturers of certain products seem to be saving on costs by giving the consumer less bang for their bucks. This makes me kind of mad.

Can you name any other products (food or otherwise) where manufacturers appear to be “skimping” out and shortchanging the consumer, by altering the “original recipe” and making the product less satisfying in terms of quality/quantity?

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54 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Zenith used to be the top name in television and electronic products, but they were sold to an overseas company and the quality disappeared.

Automobiles used to be made to last, with metal parts and good engineering, but now they are made from aluminum, plastic and cardboard.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@YARNLADY Yes, that is very true about most cars today. Just hit a rail, and your bumper gets all crumpled. I read a recent article about a lady who drove her 1953 Buick for more than 20 years, over many miles across the country, back and forth, without any significant problem. Amazing.

Bellatrix's avatar

Hoover vacuum cleaners used to last for years and years. Not so now. The last one I bought fell to pieces after about three years. It was not cheap.

DominicX's avatar

The default laptop screens on PCs are now 1366×768 when they used to be 1440×900. I know the resolution changed because of “HD” but the new resolution is not only smaller, most of the screens are crappy in quality with washed-out looking grainy colors. I compared a new 1366×768 “HD” screen on a brand new laptop to my old Dell with 1440×900 resolution and the Dell screen was much better, though the Dell was technically a lower-end cheaper computer. It just happened to be from ‘06. Not that long ago, even. But things have changed… :(

Also, it just seems like many electronic things are “built to fail” these days and don’t last as long. Planned obsolescence at its finest.

Jeruba's avatar

Cadbury’s chocolate as sold in the United States. You have to go to the U.K. or Canada or buy an import to get the good stuff now.
Nestle’s chocolate bars. They didn’t used to be waxy and flavorless.
Hershey’s kisses, ditto, and they have shrunken with time.

Coca Cola.

Kleenex tissues. They can’t stand up to a real sneeze any more, and they’re smaller, too.

Classic brand name appliances that used to be proud of their quality and now are apt to be foreign-made junk.

Anything that used to be made of metal, wood, or glass and now is made of plastic, with the exception of shampoo bottles. I’m thinking of everything from cars to dustpans.

woodcutter's avatar

Anyone remember how big a Micky D’s hamburger patty was 40 years ago? I do.

plethora's avatar

@Jeruba Re Coca-Cola. I was recently in San Diego and my son came back from the store with cokes that were bottled in Mexico. The ingredients list was very short, sugar instead of corn syrup, and a flavor I had not tasted in years. Wonderful!!

plethora's avatar

Nike workout shirts. Didn’t take them long to go downhill. I bought one about 4 years ago. It had the Nike logo embroidered on the left breast and the shirt fit me (bought my normal size). More especially the neck fit me.

About two years ago, I bought another one, supposedly exactly the same. Even the same color. Instead of an embroidered Nike logo, it was printed on the fabric up around the neckline (totally out of place) and shirt, more especially the neck, does not fit me at all. Same size and i’m the same size.

My very LAST purchase of a Nike product.

plethora's avatar

Automobiles used to have metal bumpers. You know, just in case you happened to bump lightly into something it wouldnt tear your car up. No more bumpers. Now the entire car is encased in very expensive plastic, so that if you do happen to just tap someone (as I did recently) the repair is $1000.

Brian1946's avatar

The Honda Civic lost the Consumer Reports car recommendation for the 2012 model.

Here’s their evaluation:

“Redesigned for 2012, Honda’s best-selling small car is disappointing. Fuel economy is impressive at 30 mpg overall with the standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and 40 overall with the hybrid. But the Civic falls down on several counts. Handling has lost its agility and is now plagued by vague steering. The ride is choppy and road noise remains pronounced. Interior quality took a step backward. Braking performance suffers from long stopping distances. At least the rear seat provides decent room. Reliability is likely to be above average but the Civic scores too low to be recommended. ”

shrubbery's avatar

In terms of cars, they’re trying to make them lighter and lighter to make for better fuel economy, so I guess you can’t have it both ways.

And speaking of Cadbury’s chocolate, they started using Palm Oil (at least in their products from the Tasmanian factory, not sure if it was anywhere else too) to replace some of the cocoa butter in the recipe, claiming it was to make the chocolate smoother and softer. However, it changed the taste and of course palm oil plantation is destroying rainforests in Indonesia and so there was a huge outrage and boycotting of the Cadbury’s brand so they changed it back, for once listening to the consumers. However, the size of their blocks have definitely decreased like everything else.

2davidc8's avatar

@plethora I my area you can find Mexican Coca-Cola at Costco stores. Maybe they’ll have ‘em in your area, too. I understand it’s a local thing in that you can get them at some Costco’s but not at others.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

I can’t stand it when the box is the same exact size as it used to be, and you open it up and there is a tiny single portion sized foil pouch in place of the full box of stuff that you used to get for less money.

Fiddle Faddle comes to mind.

Cereal
Ice cream boxes are smaller and the price has doubled.
The list goes on and on.

I can’t believe they did it, and didn’t even try to hide it.

And why when something is deemed “Lower, less, ½ or whatever… implying something is missing, is it ten times more expensive as though they are making it, and then hiring molecular scientists to go back in and extract the bad stuff in an extremely costly process that must be passed on to the consumer… NO SUGAR, LESS FAT, should be CHEAPER, not more money

JLeslie's avatar

@plethora We have sugar can Coke, Mexican Coke, in Memphis in many stores and restaurants. I figure they do where you are too. Or, you can stock up whenever you are here. I stock up on groceries when I am in your neck of the woods.

FutureMemory's avatar

I recently tried a Mexican Coke and thought it tasted like shit.

I was so disappointed.

john65pennington's avatar

Toilet paper. It’s lost one-half inch in width and thinner. You now have to use more in order to achieve the same purpose of ten years ago.

Keep the hand sanitizer handy.

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john65pennington's avatar

Also, peanut butter jars now have a big bubble in the center/bottom. This bubble is pretty well hidden, unless you look for it.

The bubble reduces the amount of peanut butter in the jar by about 1–2 ounces.

LostInParadise's avatar

The sodium content of canned soups has in general greatly increased.

Scientific American magazine used to have some scholarly articles at a level that I had to struggle a bit to understand some of them. It was sold to another company and now it is really dumbed down and barely worth reading.

Jellie's avatar

Everything is worse!!! We are using a microwave, ice cream maker, television, refrigerator and toasters that are almost 20 years old. We’ve had em since I was a baby and they have not given us any trouble. Unlike a few grinders, processors etc that we bought recently in the past years. The quality on electronics has gone down!

Similarly, we have some wooden furniture made from walnut. It’s strong and has braved 23 odd years. Still looks new.

I haven’t had nice tasty fresh milk in a long long time either :(

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Jeruba Don’t get me started on Hershey’s kisses. In Canada, Hershey bars taste like those new kisses – yuck. The kisses used to be the only way to find the trademark Hershey flavour here, but now we’ve lost even that.

smilingheart1's avatar

Toyota, Honda, KFC, Campbell’s soup as examples from the pricey to the nit pickey in brand names. As generic groups I would say all paper products. Then there is antibiotic meat marketed everywhere and even bean sprouts, spinach and cantLoupe are death agents for some. Yes, mass producers or chocolate deserve no kisses for performance.

laureth's avatar

The Republican Party.
Yes, I’m serious.

cookieman's avatar

This is a local favorite here in the NorthEast US

Dunkin Donuts
For a place with “Do(ugh)nuts” in its name, theirs have become offensively flavorless and laughably small over the years. The outside diameter of the doughnuts has decreased from about 8–6” to 4” and become thinner. They lost their “homemade” taste (despite being made on premises in many locations), and are bland imitations of what they once were. Their crullers are now called “sticks” as they’ve been cut lengthwise so they are flat on the bottom (thus giving you half a doughnut)

And, of course, they’ve gone up in price.

“Time to make the doughnuts” my ass. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Luckily, there’s still a couple mom n’ pop joints nearby that do it right.

Nimis's avatar

Everyone’s had to skimp in some way. Bummer. But totally expected. I’d just rather they’d raise their prices or reduce their sizes than compromise their quality.

Increase in price:
– In ‘N’ Out just raised their prices this past Monday again. Two dollars for a burger. gasp

Reduced size:
– Pepperidge Farm cookies are getting real dinks. Though I actually wrote them to say I was bummed their cookies were getting smaller, but was glad they didn’t change their recipe (as far as I can tell).

Cheaper ingredients:
– Kit Kat
– Hershey
They don’t taste like real chocolate anymore. More like chocolate-flavoured. Like other people have already mentioned. You have to get the imported ones.

- Coca-cola. Did you guys try Coca-Cola Throwback? It was available for a limited time. Tasted the way it used to taste when I was a kid.

Nimis's avatar

And clothing! Everything seems to be made of polyester these days.

I don’t like wearing plastic.

Jellie's avatar

So basically everything…

woodcutter's avatar

Yup, pretty much everything. If you have something that is relatively old and still works, take care of it because when the time comes to finally replace it, the new item isn’t going to last half as long as the old one.
I’ve had a Ford F-100 for 27 years and it was 20 years old when I got it. Still runs great. Of course I’ve had to maintain it as one would have to do with any vehicle but my 2001 Dodge Ram is not going to be around in10 years much less 47. It is a given. But I really do like it a lot.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

All great answers folks. Please keep them coming.

I like to add—-

Hostess Ding Dongs. I remember as a kid, Ding Dongs used to be rich and chocolately——the consistency was much denser——and they tasted better. Now, the chocolate coating is really thin, wax-like, and the cake is dryish and the filling is light. Yeech. They used to package them too in foil wrappers. Much fresher. Now they package them in clear crisp cellophane.

Cracker Jacks. I remember when I was a kid, you’d find “real prizes” inside the box, like metal soldiers, a small yo-yo, etc. Nowadays, all you get is a cheap “tattoo” or a sticker! Even my children go “What? That’s all??”

woodcutter's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES Cracker Jacks. I haven’t tried any in 20 years maybe. Did they jip us on the peanuts too? I remember lots of peanuts but I don’t remember metal prizes. How old are you again?

YARNLADY's avatar

@woodcutter I thought of Cracker Jacks also – see this site of vintage prizes.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@woodcutter They still put peanuts in there, though not a whole lot. It’s the “prizes” that miff me. One used to get whistles, yo-yo’s, trinkets, toy soldiers, etc. Now all you get is a silly ol’ paper sticker or tattoo. Use it once and that’s it. You’ve seen “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1963)? Audrey Hepburn’s character gets a “ring” from her boyfriend, who got it from a box of Cracker Jacks. Early 30s.

@YARNLADY Thanks for the link. That’s it! See, they used to have such great things.

JLeslie's avatar

Toaster ovens. I just went looking for one and so cheapy made now. Annoying.

plethora's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES Tell me if I’m wrong. Have not had a Hostess Twinkie in years and recently ate one. It seemed to taste the same as the old days.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Men’s Cole Haan and Bruno Magli shoes. 15–20 years ago I remember them being made in Italy and lasting forever but the ones I’ve gotten in the past two years are made in China and wear like crap.

woodcutter's avatar

Hostess fruit pies. In the ‘70’s I remember paying about 25 cents a piece and of course they were bigger back then and they had a delightful icing on them that was really thick on the ends where the fold was. That was the best part to eat. They are fairly anemic now.

Boy, Hostess is taking a beating on this one.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@plethora Hostess Twinkies are still pretty much the same. I really never liked Twinkies, though.

@woodcutter Yep, you’re right. Hostess fruit pies used to have a thick white icing but now there’s scarcely any! And the filling is mostly gluey jellie, without much real fruit. What’s your favorite fruit pie @woodcutter ? Mine’s cherry. Yum. I’m getting hungry now. Gotta run to the corner store and buy me some. Blueberry Pop-Tarts rock too.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

This may not be a product, but Saturday morning children’s animated cartoons have deteriorated in terms of their quality also. I remember when I was growing up, cartoons used to be done artfully well, with good story lines and skilled artwork. Nowadays, children’s cartoons seem to be haphazardly put together in a rush——lousy artwork, silly storylines without a purpose, and shallow characters.

plethora's avatar

I know of one product which I think has maintained its quality, but the price has gone into the stratosphere. I speak of Krispy Kreme Donuts. I can remember paying a nickel for one in the early 70’s in a shop right across from where I worked. Think 90 cents or a dollar each now (They are as addictive as crack. I cannot keep them in my house. I will consume every single one, no matter how many before morning,)

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Yep, and men’s shoes used to be made of fine leather, and even the soles were made of leather, which allowed the shoe to breathe. Most men’s shoes nowadays are made with cheap leather, and are chunky and clumsy looking, with thick “hard plastic soles” and synthetic material for the lining. Some of the shoes are even made of imitation leather! Egads.

Bellatrix's avatar

(Has never bought Krispy Kreme Donuts for exactly that reason @plethora).

Something that is as good as ever is the Russell Hobbs kettle. I have only had to buy three in the 30 years. That impresses me in today’s throwaway society.

Ovens on the other hand are not so long lasting. We have had our Simpson fan forced oven about 6–7 years. The numbers around the controls came off when we wiped it over and now the handle on the door is broken and they don’t keep parts anymore. Bring on the new oven for about $1500.00 just because we can’t buy a new door part.

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woodcutter's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES I was partial to the apple pies with lemon a close second, or whatever was there. Like I said, it’s been many years since I’ve had one. They cost too much for what you get and I don’t want to ruin the memories of the good times we had when they were well…good.

Cartoons? I think Ren Hoek is a hell of an actor, I mean, he wears a fez ;p

LostInParadise's avatar

Here is the million (actually much more) dollar question. Why have we allowed the quality of all these products to decline? Have we become indifferent to quality? Are companies exercising monopoly power to maximize profit by turning out inferior goods?

JLeslie's avatar

@LostInParadise So many people don’t know quality so the cheap stuff sells. i have been complaining about the quality of clothing for years. Really gard to find decent moderate clothing, it’s all junk or very very expensive designer. This seems to be the case with almost everything. Just like the middle class is being squeezed so are the middle level products.

woodcutter's avatar

Soon everyone alive who got many years out of jeans will be gone ,and so will complaints of how crappy new stuff is. I mean, I hope the stuff made today won’t be thought of as the good old days. How much more can the quality of things slide? Don’t answer that.

Bellatrix's avatar

Obsolescence and marketing I think. Manufacturers want to sell products and we want the latest and greatest. They also want to produce things as cheaply as they can. So despite things actually still working, we replace them. While this may largely affect our purchasing of items like TVs and the latest sound system, I think manufacturers have built this into the manufacture of appliances too. And those appliances are not produced to the same standard as they once were. I would be very happy for my vacuum cleaner to last for years and years.

My husband was looking at new ovens the other day (see above for why) and noticed the latest thing in the stores are conventional ovens but with a steam oven built in. As a coincidence, I have noticed a few ads on television for ‘cooking with steam’. So, steam is obviously the ‘latest’ method of cooking we must all start to use if we are to be healthy and happy. Of course, we have had steamers for years and have been cooking with steam for years but now, we can have a special oven to do it in (if we want to pay the $$$ to get it). Bring on the marketing.

PhiNotPi's avatar

It seems that product designers take into account the fact that their products are likely to be replaced sooner, so they don’t worry about a long product lifetime. For an example, no one notices the limited lifetimes of electronic storage devices because everyone buys new ones before that happens. Software engineers don’t bother to optimize memory usage (which used to be very important) because all of the newest computers have 4 GB of RAM.

In fact, purposely lowering the advertised lifetime of a product so that people have to buy the product more often has been used as a marketing strategy.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Doritos original Taco flavor.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Ohh – that reminds me – bbq chips simply don’t have the same flavour they used to. I think Lay’s come the closest to the old standard bbq flavour, but Ruffles, for example, used to have a completely different bbq recipe. I miss that.

lonelydragon's avatar

@plethora Agree with you about the Nike shirts. I bought one about 4 years ago, and within two months there was already a hole in the fabric (despite the fact that it always got washed on the gentle cycle in an HE machine). I never shopped there again after that.

Jeruba's avatar

Pop Tarts. Never buy them any more; gave up on them about 20 years ago. I used to love the plain blueberry ones. I would slather butter on top while they were hot and eat them with a fork. That frosting on everything ruined them.

Post Shredded Wheat, now: there’s a product that’s still good—so much so that from one shopping trip to the next I worry that it just won’t be there any more. (I do think the biscuits are smaller than they used to be, though.)

plethora's avatar

@Jeruba And note the proliferation of variations.

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