We were surprised to learn that Boston Market has been toying with its recipes to reduce sodium. After making a delivery to a location in East Brunswick, NJ, we didn’t notice any difference. And it seems that no customers have either.
That’s because the comfort food chain has gone to great lengths to make menu items healthier without sacrificing taste. So far, Boston Market has been able to reduce the sodium levels in mashed potatoes by 26 percent, poultry gravy by 50 percent, cornbread by 30 percent, stuffing by 19 percent, and meatloaf by 18 percent. Not only has the chain not received commentary over the change, but stuffing sales over the holidays actually increased. Virtually no one realized that the great food they’ve always enjoyed had become healthier — not even the associates serving the food.
The research and development team worked strenuously to maintain the same taste in each item. In some cases, flaky sea salt was used to reduce sodium. In others, like the mashed potatoes, the other flavors were increased to make up for the lack of salt. Once the team felt they had found the right recipe, the items are brought to company taste panelists. If the panelists can’t tell the difference between the old and new recipes, they are tested in select locations. During these tests, only management was aware the reduced sodium items were being served alongside the traditional recipes. The test is a success if the customers can’t tell the difference.
Currently, a reduced sodium macaroni and cheese is being served in about 40 restaurants. If the test is successful, Boston Market will have created a mac and cheese dish we don’t have to feel guilty about eating — a dream come true.