General Mills Might Be Going Off The Rails With Yoplait Yogurt

I love yogurt and typically eat one cup every day.  I’ve not hopped aboard the Greek yogurt bandwagon, as I really don’t care much for the texture and taste, but I still stick with ‘regular’ yogurt.

A year or two ago, as part of an effort to eliminate the consumption of artificial sweeteners in my diet, I switched from the low calorie (100 calories in most varieties) to the regular version.

By and large, I stuck with three different brands that I enjoyed the most.  Yoplait, plus two store brands (Meijer’s Purple Cow brand, and Aldi’s house brand).  My wife usually got me whatever brand out of the three that was the best price for the week between sale prices, coupons, etc.

It’s been a good system, but just in the past few weeks, the Yoplait brands have made some significant changes:

  • Lower Sugar – Yoplait regular yogurt (red cups) now have 25% less sugar than they did before.  This reduces the calories in a cup (on average going from 170 to 150 calories in a cup).  To offset, they increased the amount of milk in order to attempt to keep the same texture.
  • New Advertising Campaign –  To go along with their new formulations, they seem to be making a push to more TV and print advertising.

On the surface, both of these things seem like pretty good movements.  After all, more healthy options seems to benefit all, and getting the word out has to be a good idea, right?

My Impressions

However, having seen both firsthand, I feel that either one could blow up in their face, and the combination could be catastrophic.  Let me explain:

  • The new taste – I tried out a few cups of the new formula and I was not overly impressed.  You can definitely tell the lower sugar content as it’s not as sweet.  If this was the only change, I’d probably be OK as I could use a little less sugar in my diet, but the problem is that texture seems off.  It seems more chalky and thicker at the same time.  Honestly, it seems they sacrificed quite a bit just to offer a healthier option and cut 20 calories from their offering.
  • The new ad campaign – The TV spots are hard to miss.  They feature a young, pixie-type woman talking in a very heavy French accent about Yoplait.   The colors and general theme can only be described as loud and bouncy.  The first time my wife and I saw one of the commercials, we both looked at each other with an expression wondering if this was for real.  I said: “I don’t get it.” She asked, “Are they making fun of European people?”  I’m not quite sure what message they’re intending to send, but I’m pretty sure it’s not being very well received.

Social Media As A Gauge

mb-2015-07-signMany times, when I have opinions like this, I am not sure if I’m in the minority.  Maybe people love the new flavors or think that the commercials are fantastic.  Who knows?  So, in order to get a read, I’ll head over to Facebook and check out their product page.  Looking at the Facebook page for Yoplat, it appears that my concerns about both the product change and the advertising are well shared.  People think the product change is too drastic (New Coke, anyone?) and wish they hadn’t changed it or offered the new formula as an alternative instead of a replacement.  Many people don’t understand the commercials and turn the channel or fast forward through them as soon as they come on.

It seems the changes are not being well received at all.  Yikes!

I love yogurt and I’d hate to see my number of favorable options reduce from three to two options, but the way things are looking for Yoplait, I’m not convinced they’ll stay in  my rotation.


Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

9 Reasons Why We Don’t Buy Shredded Cheese

It’s been a long time since we’ve bought a bag of shredded cheese.  Back in my single days, that’s all I ever used.  I’m honestly not even sure I owned a cheese grater!

Now, we buy only block cheese and shred it ourselves.

Here are six reasons why block cheese is better than shredded cheese.

  1. Less Chemicals, Part 1 – Shredded cheese is very convenient but in order to make a product that sells, the companies have to make sure that it stays in shredded form.  If you shred your own cheese, you’ll often note that it will very quickly start to clump together.  That’s fine if you shred and use, but if this happened while it was sitting on the shelves, nobody would buy it!  So, after they shred it, they coat it with chemicals to make sure that it does not clump up.
  2. Less Chemicals, Part 2 – Another problem with shredded cheese is that it is quite
    susceptible to mold growth.   Cheese in any form will start to mold when exposed to air.  Block cheese works great because there’s no air, but with a bag of shredded cheese, there’s just no humanly way possible to get the air out of the bag.  So, in order to lengthen the time before it starts going moldy, the companies, you guessed it, add more chemicals.  Now of course, they’ll tell you that the chemicals are perfectly safe, but why take the risk if you don’t have to?
  3. Shredded cheese is difficult to melt – If you’re using shredded cheese in a recipe that calls for nice, gooey cheese, chances are you’ll be disappointed with shredded cheese.  I’m guessing that the chemicals are doing what they’re designed to do, but it makes for terrible melting.  Block cheese that you shred yourself, however, melts just fine.
  4. Shredding cheese is easy – It’s really not that hard to shred cheese.  Grab a grater, open a block of cheese and away you go.  I do most of the shredding in our house, and an 8 ounce block doesn’t take but a couple of minutes. If you rinse off the grater right after you’re done, cleanup is a cinch.
  5. If you shred cheemb-2015-03-cheesese, you get to eat cheese! – I’m the go-to guy in our house when it comes to shredding cheese.  I actually like it, but my little secret is that I like doing it because when I’m done, I grab a pinch of freshly shredded cheese and enjoy it!  Few things top that.
  6. Block cheese is often cheaper – Depending on the cheese and the store, we’ll often find that you get an ounce or two less of pre-shredded cheese compared to what you get in for a package in block form, yet the price is the same.  To me, it’s worth getting the most cheese for my buck for the simple task of shredding it.

3 Other Things To Know About Shredding Cheese

The items above are full of some good information, but here are a few other things to know:

  • Block cheese keeps well – If you only need 4 ounces, there’s no need to shred a whole block. Simply cut off what you need and shred that, wrap the rest up, and put it back in the fridge.  That will keep the rest of the block lasting fresh for much longer than if you put the remainder back in shredded form.
  • Block cheese freezes – I actually did not know this but apparently you can freeze block cheese and as long as it’s not cream based (most isn’t except for, well, cream cheese, of course), the cheese will be just fine.  This is actually useful information, as we’ve generally shied away from buying larger bricks at Costco or when they’re on sale at the grocery store, for fear that we wouldn’t be able to use all of the cheese once opened.
  • Mold on block cheese isn’t the end world – If you get a little mold growth on the end of an open container of block cheese, you can simply cut it off and use the rest.  On shredded cheese, once you get mold started, chances are it exists through your entire package and needs to be discarded.  Waste less with block cheese.

Readers, for your cheese needs, are you a shred or block household?  What importance does convenience play?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Pizza: Homemade vs. Carryout vs. Sit-Down

Pizza.  Who’s having it tonight for dinner?  Chances are, somebody reading this is already planning on pizza as tonight’s dinner.  And, now that I’m writing about it, chances are at least one more person will choose pizza for dinner.

It’s just that good!

Our family loves pizza, and we love all three kinds of pizza. I’m not talking three different brands of pizza, but I’m talking homemade, carryout, and sit-down. What’s our favorite?  Read on to find out.

To start off, here are some pros and cons of each.

Homemade Pizza

I never knew how easy it was to make homemade pizzas, but now we make a couple of different kinds.  In the cooler months, we’ll make a pizza in the oven using pizza crust yeast, which mixes in with flour and a couple of other quick, easy ingredients to provide crust.  In the summer months, we will get pita bread and make pizzas on the outdoor grill. Yum!


  • It’s fun to make a pizza together.  Everybody gets in the game
  • It’s cheap
  • It’s customizable.  Every person can get exactly what they want and how they want it, even on the same pizza
  • It’s healthier (if you want it to be).  You know what’s going on your pizza so you can control what goes on, and we’ve found that things like turkey based pepperoni work just great, and make things a lot less greasy.


  • Dirty dishes. One of the best benefits to pizza is typically less dishes, but you need a pizza dish, a bowl to mix the dough, something to roll it out, and a pin, all of which require washing.
  • Rolling out pizza dough.  The first couple of times rolling out pizza dough is interesting and it usually doesn’t come out very round.  The good news is that after a few tries, you get the hang of it!

Carryout Pizza (or Delivery)

mb-2014-11pizzaWhether it’s Little Caesars Hot & Ready or something a bit more upscale, there’s just something great about picking up a phone and a few minutes and a quick trip later, having a hot pizza in a box ready to drive back home and eat.


  • It’s easy.  With Little Caesar’s, you don’t even have to call or wait.  Other places, you might have a quick phone call and a short wait, but it’s quick and easy!
  • It’s hot. There’s nothing like getting a piping hot pizza that can only seem to work after it’s been in one of the super hot pizza ovens that only pizza places have.
  • More toppings. Pizza places typically have more toppings available to choose from than you’ll find at home.


  • Risk.  Every once in a while, opening the pizza box at home yields less than satisfactory results, whether it be overdone (or underdone), too much sauce, too little cheese or just made wrong.  Since it’s often more trouble than it’s worth, many times you end up stuck with it.

Sit-Down Restaurant Pizza

Who doesn’t love going to a restaurant that specializes in pizza, and will bring it to you?  We have several local places around Detroit, The Alibi and Buddy’s to name a couple, that make pizza an experience.


  • Quality.  Typically, quality is top notch and a step above carryout or delivery places.
  • The other stuff.  Our favorite pizza places are also our favorite places for salad and bread sticks.  Typically, a place that does pizza well seems to find a way to do other things well, so when it comes to good things, you get two (or three) for the price of one.
  • Full service.  Going out means no dishes or tables to clean up.  It’s all right there!


  • Cost.  The pizzas are more expensive, and you also pay for drinks, tip, and other things that can add up quickly.
  • Wait.  Your favorite pizza place is probably the favorite pizza place for a lot of other people, so you might have to wait…and be really hungry!

As you can see, all pizza options have their share of great things and maybe not so great things, but the one thing that trumps all is that in every scenario….you get pizza!

And, that is the number one thing.

For the record, our favorite out of all three…is all of them!  That sounds like a cop-out and it might be, but we love all three.  The difference is that on some pizza days, one stands out more than another, but overall, we love all three and would never dream of dropping any option out of our ‘rotation’.

Readers, who’s having pizza tonight?  What are your favorite pizza options, toppings, and all the rest?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Red Lobster Appears Doomed For Failure

Ever since I was old enough to actually enjoy eating fish, Red Lobster has been a pretty solid option for getting some seafood.  We don’t go very often because we have a local place that we enjoy much better, but we’ve been a number of times over the years.

Recently, Red Lobster was sold by their former parent company, the Darden Group (who also owns Olive Garden as the most comparable type of restaurant), and the new holding company, Golden Gate Capital, just completed the sale, and has already announced some changes.

They boil down to two changes: They’re going to charge more money and they’re going to try to present the restaurant as more fancy.  Both of these things are with the intent to curb years of steadily declining sales.

After reading the article and absorbing the strategy, I think that Golden Gate Capital may have just wasted a whole lot of money.  Personally I don’t see things working out.  Here is why I think that Red Lobster may be doomed for failure based on the strategy and their history:

  • People love promotions – Red Lobster wants to get away from low priced specials and many promotional items.  On paper their reason looks good: Promotions like that tend to erode the brand, so why not end the erosion?  In reality, the damage has been done and it’s going to be next to impossible to unwind that clock.  People are used to promotions, and by eliminating them, the people that would have come in the door are now going to go elsewhere.  If you want to see how eliminating promotions works out, let’s remember the massive failure that almost sent an iconic department store chain into bankruptcy.
  • Chain restaurants aren’t fancy – Apparently laying food out on the plate is another big part of the turnaround strategy.  Instead of having the fish side by side with the other items (potatoes, rice, vegetables), the fish will now be placed on top of those items.  This will make the fish the centerpiece of the…..You know what?  I can’t even finish the sentence.  This strategy might make a difference in a high end restaurant with one or two locations, but for a chain restaurant with thousands of locations, this is not going to be a difference maker.
  • Things run their course – I was originally going to split this post into two parts, the reason I think the strategy stinks (which I did), and what they should do instead.  Then, I got to thinking that maybe there really isn’t anything much they can do.  Many things simply come and go in terms of popularity.  Maybe Red Lobster has been around for long enough that it’s simply run out of steam.  It happens.  Especially in the food industry where tastes change and what’s cool one day is replaced by the new cool thing down the street the next day.

Simply put, I think Red Lobster is going to continue on the downtrend.  I just don’t see how different pricing or plate arrangement is going to change that.

Readers, what do you think?  Is Red Lobster a brand that can be revived or is it a brand that has run its course?  What do you think about the new approaches?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.