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Powdered eggs really came into their own during WWII, when the Armed Forces needed to feed millions of men in the European and Pacific theaters of operation. Powdered eggs were an excellent solution to the problem of shipping foodstuffs to far flung locales. But the tradeoff is, of course, taste. Taste is not so much of an issue when you are supplying armies as when you are trying to sell to customers.

Eggs, milk, and cheese are mostly water.

When you remove the water, they no longer require refrigeration, take up less space, weigh less, are easier to ship, and have longer shelf lives. These five cost-savers make up the Holy Grail for packaged food manufacturers. The only thing missing was taste, so they added sugar, salt, and fats along with stabilizers and emulsifiers.

For a very long time, packaged goods companies chose to spend more of their money on advertising, mascots, packaging, huge marketing departments, and thousands of brand managers than on quality ingredients. They sold us the cheapest ingredients they could for a long time, because the formula worked well. But then things started to change, and as is the case with most large bureaucracies, they were slow to notice. The pinch for processed foods, sold in the middle of the store, is coming from the edges, where we now see bigger areas for produce, bakeries, delis, and take-home meals. It is also coming from high-end shoppers favoring fewer processed foods and low-end shoppers who are buying less heavily marketed (and therefore less expensive) store brands.

With the shift toward fresher, less-processed foods, these food giants are now proudly proclaiming they are reducing salts, sugars, and fats.

According to the Financial Post, peddlers of packaged goods reduced these substances in 180,000 products in 2016 alone.

In what passes for innovation, Hamburger Helper now has real cheese – after only 46 years.

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