Parents who were outraged when Kellogg’s SA replaced its original Kellogg’s Rice Krispies with a far sweeter, multigrain version 18 months ago will be happy to know the originals are back — but at a price.
“Yes, we have listened to our consumers who enjoyed the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Original cereal; we’ve been working behind the scenes and have now relaunched the product in the market,” Kellogg’s SA’s head of external relations Zandi Mposelwa told TimesLIVE.
But they are no longer made here. The company imports the large 510g box from the UK and sells it for about R70 — far more expensive than the local, sweeter, vanilla-flavoured multigrain version which replaced the original in mid-2018.
Rice Krispies Vanilla is sold in 400g and 600g boxes for about R40 and R63 respectively.
For many lovers of the iconic original Rice Krispies, a once-popular choice among parents as a relatively low-sugar alternative to the likes of Coco Pops, the switch to the sugar-coated, multigrain version was a great big snap, crackle, flop.
Many of the hundreds of consumers who shared their anger on Kellogg’s SA’s Facebook page accused it of “tricking” them into buying the “new, improved” Rice Krispies by not making it clear that the product was entirely different.
“I bought two boxes and my son HAAAAATES them!” said Gugulethu Zungu.
“And it’s shady how you guys just put them there like they are the originals, cos the vanilla flavour wording is so small and unnoticeable. Please stop production and return the original Rice Krispies.”
“Omw … can’t believe the nation feels the same,” said Rukshana Dollie-Ismail. “I lodged a complaint with Kellogg’s two weeks ago and nothing has been done. My kids really don’t like it and Kellogg’s has taken away the originality and memories too …”
“What were you thinking?” asked Mohammed Sader. “Epic fail. You are just destroying a strong household brand. My four-year-old nephew refuses to have the new product …”
But Kellogg insisted that all members of a large test group gave the new Rice Krispies a thumbs-up before the product was put on to the market as a replacement for the original.
With 21.7g of sugar per 100g, Vanilla Rice Krispies have twice the sugar of the original previously sold in SA, and a whopping three times the sugar of the UK-made original now being sold alongside them.
But will 18 months of eating more sugary cereals have turned children off the original version?
That’s just what happened in the case of eight-year-old Hannah of Durban. After a couple of mouthfuls of the now very expensive imported original Rice Krispies, she told her mother: “These taste of nothing!”
Apart from the sugar spike and the dramatically different taste, many complained at the time of the switch that the packaging of the vanilla-flavoured Rice Krispies does carry a clear warning that despite the product’s name, it contains wheat, a common allergen.
“This makes it high risk for wheat-allergic consumers,” said Cape Town-based allergen specialist Dr Harris Steinman.
“While the original Rice Krispies also contained gluten, wheat-allergic individuals need to avoid wheat, not gluten.
“Imagine if the ingredient added was peanut.”
Kellogg’s SA said wheat was “clearly and adequately” reflected in the ingredients list on the pack, as well as in the allergen statement below the ingredients list.
But the company has since redesigned the box to make the words “Vanilla flavour” more prominent and included the word “wheat” on the front of the pack.
BY: Wendy Knowler Consumer journalist