Baked beans and half-baked Britain

Baked beans…up there with Marmite, brown sauce, rice pudding and evaporated milk as quintessentially British ‘cuisine’.

I don’t eat baked beans too often, although a spoonful with a full English breakfast or something like sausage and chips is quite pleasant.

Indeed, last night I had some rather nice farm-made pork sausages which I grilled and then served with homemade chunky chips and baked beans.

But…what the FUCK have they done to baked beans?

Gone is virtually all the flavour and what remains is so bland that you could be eating almost anything from baby food to wallpaper paste.

They were Heinz Baked Beans and I’ve discovered that the recipe was changed in 2003 and now the salt and sugar content in the standard line is reduced from previous levels.


Do I detect the meddling hand of the Diet Police?

Wikipedia has this to say:

In 2002 the British Dietetic Association allowed manufacturers of canned baked beans to advertise the product as contributing to the recommended daily consumption of five-six vegetables per person. This concession was criticised by heart specialists who pointed to the high levels of sugar and salt in the product. Some manufacturers produce a “healthy option” version of the product with lower levels of sugar and salt.

Whilst I appreciate that times have changed, during the war canned baked beans were classed as ‘an essential foodstuff’  under rationing regulations.

Oh, how the mighty baked bean has fallen!

Once a ‘must-eat’, as soon as it fell foul of the Nutritional Nazis it stood no fucking chance.

It tried to reinvent itself for the brave new world of the dietary-correct by getting a separate incarnation in a reduced salt and sugar version which you can still get, but now has reduced sugar and salt in even its ‘leaded’ version.

That’s why it tastes like shit – or rather doesn’t taste of anything much at all.

In a way, the humble baked bean is a metaphor for much that is wrong with 21st century Britain.

Harmless – apart from fueling flatulence – the baked bean happily bumbles along minding its own fucking business for years and years until some over-educated, over-paid, government-sponsored, interfering shit-for-brains comes along and says that eating baked beans is bad for you. Therefore, we will take the bad stuff out and we will make baked beans good for you again.

Goodbye choice.

Now you can get low fat, low sugar, low calorie, low GM, low cholesterol, low alcohol versions of virtually anything you want to cram in your mouth hole and even if you choose the ‘unhealthy’ version then they’ve still reduced all that ‘bad’ stuff in it.

However, the main concern I have with this is that whilst I’m aware of the change because I’m old enough to remember when baked beans were very much tastier than they are today, children today, of course, won’t be.

They’ll just scoff the beans knowing no different.

Just as they’ll grow up with no experience of a society that let the individual make his own mind up about things a little more often than he’s allowed to today.

Baked beans – a symbol of broken Britain.

16 Responses

  1. When heating them up in the saucepan I add salt and oregano. I don’t mind them being less sugary though, but I don’t see why you couldn’t add that back too.

    This only works until they ban the sale of salt of course.

  2. Toast + Beans + Cheese = Success!

  3. I had some recently and thought I was coming down with a cold. Now I know better…!

  4. Rescue can be effected by adding honey, chilli and coriander, in whatever quantities please you.
    May sound bizarre but, like adding pepper to strawberries, once you’ve tried it …

  5. Personally, I put curry powder in mine, followed by a splash of Encona Hot Pepper Sauce.

    Serve on toast that’s been spread with Marmite or Bovril. Mmm…bliss!

  6. Easily cured, add half a teaspoon of sugar, a sprinkle of salt and a knob of butter before heating, voila full fat beans as they used to be.

  7. Those of you saying “add your own” are rather missing thje point.

    Why the FUCK should you HAVE to?

  8. Quite.

    I was expecting some people to come up with cunning ruses to make Heinz Baked Beans palatable once more – for which I thank you – but as Krähwinkel says, why should we have to?

    Were you, or anyone, fucking consulted by the Department of Health or Heinz over whether you wanted baked beans changed?

    No choice offered – just the usual use of stealth tactics to impose yet more restrictions on what the individual does.

  9. “…nice farm-made pork sausages which I grilled and then served with homemade chunky chips and baked beans.”

    This has to be one of my occasional traditional favourites too. And, yes, at some indefinable stage I did notice the beans weren’t tasting quite the same. I just started adding spices without thinking about it.

    I would accept that it’s harder for the consumer to take the salt/sugar out of a product than it is to add it. But we’re not talking about joyless Tesco Value crap. Better still for the consumer to have an open choice between ‘traditional’ and low salt/fat recipes. It wouldn’t seem like such a deception then. How disappointing that I was aware that something was not quite right but never consciously considered what.

    BTW, I wonder if they could get away with sneeking out a low salt version of Marmite.

  10. XX Dave H., on December 21st, 2009 at 6:06 pm Said:
    BTW, I wonder if they could get away with sneeking out a low salt version of Marmite. XX

    They can get away withANYTHING, because as has been shown here, the fucking public are so damn imbicilic, that instead of boycotting the shite result of the firms tampering, and writing to the company to tell them WHY they will no longer by buying their product, they give you a thousand and one ways how “you can make it better by adding………”.

    THEN they think they have exercised their “democratic right” because they write a “stiff letter” on some obscure newspapers comments web page.

    Any one would think you were still in the fucking Blitz and my Grandfathjer and his mates were still sinking your ships.

    Some good news people, you do NOT have to make do and mend any more, the fucking war and rationing is OVER!!

  11. Krähwinkel, that comment would have got you my ‘Comment of the Year’ award – if I had one.

    Please come back often.

    Merry Christmas to you!

  12. Hmm. Well, nice to be appriecieted.

    Merry christmas to you too.

  13. Probably unwise to reply. Will anyway.

    “they give you a thousand and one ways how “you can make it better by adding………”.

    Nope, like I said, they didn’t have too. I did it instinctively.

    There’s some truth in the make and mend bit. Not sure why that’s necesssarily a source of shame. In fact I will soon have to do much more, not less.

    Slightly spooky you should raise Germany/UK in this context: Because I found it near impossible to find half-decent baked beans in Germany, and didn’t think much to the local sausages either, I used to stock up on such things whenever I flew back. Better than being without, even when despite the long intervals between supplies I noticed they began to taste a bit different. Threaten Heinz with a boycott? They were the best available to me.

    Now back in the UK, I really miss Nürnberger Rostbratwurst and I can’t get them*. Fucking irony eh? Though when making my enquiries, Richmonds** told me they produce a healthier equivalent which is just as delicious.

    *without a day’s journey. **Disgustingly crap sausage, never to be source of British nostalgia outside of genuine famine.

  14. XX Dave H., on December 22nd, 2009 at 4:01 pm Said:

    Slightly spooky you should raise Germany/UK in this context: Because I found it near impossible to find half-decent baked beans in Germany, XX

    Well I AM German, and lived long enough in the U.K. So it is relevant.

    I have a kitchen cupboard FULL of Heinz baked Beans.

    WHERE do you think HEINZ origionated from, if not Germany or Austria??? ;-))

    Tell you what I DO miss here though is PIES!!! Lambs navy rum, REAL fish and chips, and a “Fryer” that does not look at you like you are satan pesonified when you ask him to deep fry your pizza, or Mars bar.

    To compare German sausage over British, is like saying Whitbread Lager is equivalent to Kindl, or Paulaner.

    Marmite is always available, as is Birds custard powder, in the Chinese shops.

  15. Well, still don’t understand why the hell would you eat tinned food and consider it a “must” when there is fresh food all over the place these daysssssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!! War times are over for goodness sake!!

  16. ahhhhhh im not the only one that thinks beans are now bland.

    Why doesnt someone market a bad for you 80’s range of products with fat, sugar, salt and flavour

    or at least the beans makers could put some pepper, garlic, onion or chilli in them

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