We're divided into two distinct groups: those whose parents prepared Hamburger Helper on occasion and those whose parents adamantly refused to. Kids who received the occasional beef, noodle and maltodextrin sautée most likely thought it was just another salty meal. But the children who were denied the boxed delicacy were whipped up into a fervor when they learned what they were missing.
There was school bus chatter, or worse, Hamburger Helper was served while they visited a friend's house. To have those passionate arguments (but Sally's mom says its OK!?) fall on deaf ears was an agony and it was compounded the second we began to grapple with the basics of finance.
Why in God's name would you deny me something that costs less than my allowance?
General Mills' product may not be cheap enough, though. BloombergBusinessweek reports that sales have slumped in recent years, and in response, marketing experts are reinventing the brand. Their first step? Ditch the Hamburger.
The products, which will be released in new flavors and with premium sauce pouches, will soon be known simply as Helper. With the advent of Chicken Helper and Tuna Helper, General Mills thought things were getting confusing. By sticking with just "Helper" they've attempted to streamline the brand.
They've also removed the only real ingredient from the name. To prepare the stuff, a cook browns ground beef (or choose your own protein) in a pan, adds water and then dried pasta and the seasoning packet that comes in the box. Without the hamburger, "Helper" is nothing but super-cheap pasta, a slew of dried "natural" seasonings and an anti-caking agent.
The move is supposed to help General Mills target a growing customer base. Young, single bros who grew up in a Hamburger Helper household have discovered that the boxed dinners can save them time just like their parents. Single moms, who work all day before they come home to work a whole lot more, are still hooked on the Helper, too, because it's fast and affordable. But no matter what you call it, Helper will always be familiar with either demographic. Lefty, the happy glove with a missing finger, isn't going anywhere.