Few things are more disheartening than falling in love with a food or drink item just to have it ripped out from under you, never to be enjoyed again. Unfortunately, that's the way of the world, and this despairing phenomenon affects both restaurant and grocery items—hitting consumers from every angle.
Just this year, Taco Bell's Quesarito and Dunkin's Dunkaccino were shaved off fast-food menus. At the supermarket, the list of discontinued products in 2023 is even longer—adding insult to injury as the nation continues to recover from 2022's losses, which included two sweet icons, the Choco Taco and SnackWell's Devil's Food Cookie Cakes.
The reasons for this year's discontinuations range from low sales to health concerns to production issues. Almost every grocery category has taken a hit, including beverages, candy, pantry staples, and plant-based items. Let's take a look at what products we bid adieu to in 2023. Here's to hoping they end up sharing a similar storyline to Dunkaroos or French Toast Crunch and make a heroic comeback in the near future.
For this one, we have to take a trip back to January, when PepsiCo delivered a devastating blow to kick off the year. The company announced that it would be sunsetting Sierra Mist, a longstanding fizzy favorite that often went head-to-head with Coca-Cola's Sprite and the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group's 7-Up. The decision was made due to the soda's declining market share and inability to keep up with these big-league competitors.
Pepsi didn't completely leave fans high and dry, though. Instead, it introduced a celestial being called Starry to take Sierra Mist's place. The two share a similar flavor profile, but Starry is made with high-fructose corn syrup rather than cane sugar. This soft drink switcheroo has sparked some controversy—while some consumers enjoy the new variation, Starry has not been met on our planet with the warmest of welcomes.
Rothbury Farms Croutons
Since February 2023, Rothbury Farms Croutons have been toast, and salads will never be the same. The brand announced this discontinuation on its Facebook page and noted that they were "not able to sustain [the croutons] in the current market." All flavors of the product were pulled, including the Texas Toast and All-Natural lines, as well as classics such as Seasoned, Buttery Garlic, and Italian Style.
Fans were visibly upset and crusty in the comments, sad to be losing the "best croutons ever" as many of them put it. A petition was also started to bring them back to life, and it has received more than 1,600 signatures.
Due to inflation and supply chain issues, Italy was in hot water earlier this year and warned about a possible pasta shortage. Fortunately, here in the U.S., the largest impact on consumers was price hikes. Most of our favorite pastas have held steady on the grocery store shelf. That is except for one very specific product from the Ronzoni brand: pastina.
The pasta shape, which is tiny and round, was stripped from the company's lineup in January—an act that one angry fan called a "jailable offense" on Instagram. Ronzoni said that the cause for discontinuation was that its long-term supplier would no longer be making the product and an alternative distributor could not be found.
Ronzoni's other 35 pasta shapes and variations from rigatoni and rotini to linguine and lasagna are safe, sound, and ready to soak up some of those sorrows brought on by the loss.
Enjoy Life Foods Bakery Items
Enjoy Life produces snacks and sweets that are free from 14 different allergens, with a specific emphasis on creating nourishing and healthy foods that are kid- and school-friendly. The brand has gained a great deal of traction since its start in 2002 and was acquired by food giant Mondelez in 2015. But, this year, it said goodbye to its flagship treats that started it all: bakery items.
Word spread back in May about the closing of one of Enjoy Life's factories in Jeffersonville, Indiana—a facility focused primarily on production of the brand's baked goods. Enjoy Life later confirmed on Instagram that its bakery items had been "delisted" and noted that "numerous business aspects" impacted the decision. Specific items parents will no longer be able to pack in their kids' lunches include Chewy Bars, Brownie Bites, Soft-Baked Cookies, Crunchy Cookies, Protein Bites, and Breakfast Ovals. But, Enjoy Life's Lentil Chips, Baking Chocolate, and Candy Bars remain available.
This year's holiday season just got a little less jolly—especially for those who are lactose intolerant. Silk announced it will no longer be producing its dairy-free Silk Nog made from soy milk. The product has historically been a seasonal one that pops up in the colder months. But, this year it is sold out at most retailers, and Amazon currently has it listed as "unavailable" with a note that reads, "We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock."
Over on Facebook, Silk confirmed what customers already feared. In response to an inquiry about the nog just this week, the brand wrote, "I'm sorry our Nog has been discontinued. We know this news may be a little disappointing; we'll be sure to share your comments!"
Atomic Fireballs simply couldn't take the heat. Unleashed in 1954, the cinnamon spheres were once one of the hottest candies on the market. But now, many sources are spreading the word that their production has been halted in 2023. There has been no official statement from the candy's maker the Ferrara Candy Shop. But, smaller resellers, such as Blooms Candy & Soda Pop Shop and The Old Time Candy Company, have leaked the news, and are warning customers to stock up before they run out for good.
Once you burn through the remainder of your stock, you can continue to get your cinnamon fix with alternative candies like Tongue Torchers, Hot Tamales, Red Hots, or even Jelly Belly's Unbearably Hot Cinnamon Bears.
WPOP Wegmans Brand Soda
Sierra Mist wasn't the only soda that faced extinction in 2023. East Coast-based supermarket chain Wegmans also retired WPOP—its private-label brand soda—after concerns continued to bubble up over the drink's questionable ingredients. The company began to pull the beverage from shelves in August, and signs took its place which read, "Our Wegmans brand sodas contain aspartame and high fructose corn syrup, artificial ingredients which do not meet our Food You Feel Good About requirements. For this reason, we've made the difficult decision to stop offering Wegmans brand soda."
Despite these unfavorable add-ins, customers had a lot of love for the affordable soda and its many variations including Ginger Ale, Lemon Lime W-Up, and Dr. W. It was truly a sad farewell for many who had been enjoying the drink for decades.
Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
Along with Oreo, Nutter Butter, Chips Ahoy!, and other packaged cookie classics, Nabisco is also well-known for its Famous Chocolate Wafers—a product that certainly lives up to its name. The thin chocolatey biscuits were introduced nearly a century ago in 1924 and became an instant favorite to use as a pie crust, in a no-bake icebox cake, or to enjoy by themselves.
But, to the dismay of home bakers everywhere, the cookie sleeves have become more and more elusive, eventually to be discontinued by Nabisco this year. Ever since, many grievances have been aired on social media. And, in September, one Twitter user said, "i just found out @nabisco discontinued their chocolate wafers and i am ready to RIOT."
Trader Joe's Hi-Protein Veggie Burger
Trader Joe's is well-known for rotating inventory in and out. But, in 2023, the store was feeling particularly ruthless, doing away with a few staple and OG products. For starters, the Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks bit the dust this year, later to be replaced by a slightly altered alternative, and the Hi-Protein Veggie Burgers were also axed.
An Instagram account dedicated to sharing Trader Joe's discontinuations first flagged the burgers' demise in April, and the public did not seem happy about it. One comment read, "I'm a carnivore, but these were super good! BRING EM BACK @traderjoes." And, another Trader Joe's shopper wrote, "This is a travesty."
Fairlife Ice Cream
The ultra-filtered milk brand Fairlife–owned by the Coca-Cola Company–proudly introduced a line of lactose-free ice cream in 2020. Initial flavors included vanilla, chocolate, cookies and cream, chocolate peanut butter, double fudge brownie, java chip, and mint chip, and a few others were later tacked on. But, during the past year, the pints have slowly melted off the shelves of retailers including Kroger and Vons. And, over the summer, Fairlife fessed up on Twitter, letting consumers know it had been officially discontinued. Guess life isn't that fair after all, is it?
But, the good news is that it's simple enough to make your very own version of the frozen treat at home—and many fans are already taking advantage of this simple hack. Just combine Fairlife's ultra-filtered milk with your favorite mix-ins, give it a whirl in your ice cream machine, and enjoy.