An Oldie But A Goodie: The Return Of MSG

LOS ANGELES , January 29, 2020 () –

Did I really fall in love with Popeyes’ chicken sandwich? Or did I fall in love with MSG?

That’s the question I was faced with recently just one day after posting my blog from earlier this month raving about Popeyes’ first-ever sandwich offering, dubbing it the best chicken sandwich I’d ever had, fast food or otherwise.

The morning after the blog post, I was doing my normal research when I came across a couple of news articles explaining that recent chicken sandwiches from several major fast-food players—McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A and the aforementioned Popeyes—contain MSG as a flavoring enhancement.

MSG. Now that’s something I haven’t heard about since I was a kid. It was the 1980s. It was a simpler time. A time when we weren’t quite aware that so many things that tasted good and felt good could kill you. It was a time of smoking sections in restaurants. A time of riding bicycles without helmets. And yes, a time when MSG was prevalent in food.

For those of you who don’t know, MSG is short for monosodium glutamate. It’s used as a flavor enhancer in food. If you grew up in the 1980s, you know it as the thing that made Chinese food taste good. You heard people talking about it but didn’t know what it was (but man, was that Chinese food tasty). Then as the 80s moved into the 1990s, MSG’s reputation took a downturn and it was phased out of our food supply.

At least, I’m assuming it did. To be honest, it’s not 40-year-old Nevin Barich writing this blog right now. It’s 9-year-old Nev, an innocent lad who knew he liked his Chinese food and couldn’t understand why MSG was so bad if it made something taste so good. I was told MSG went away, but maybe it didn’t. Maybe it’s always been there, quietly biding its time until it could suddenly appear one day in fast-food chicken sandwiches that the masses have become addicted to. After all, if (spoiler alert) Emperor Palpatine could make a triumphant return in the latest “Star Wars” film, why couldn’t MSG also make a grand re-entry?

All I know is this: When I ate those Popeyes chicken sandwiches, I was sent back in time to the 1980s. I was as happy as a kid eating Chinese food way back when. Maybe, like Palpatine, MSG’s return will be short-lived. But for now, I’ll think of it as an old friend that I feared was lost forever.

Nevin Barich is the Food and Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence, which can help YOU better address your own industry challenges. We invite you to come take a look at our service.Call us today at 310-553-0008 and we’ll schedule you for a 15-minute demo.

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