Saturday, July 9, 2011

Help WANTED & FOUND: Hormel vs. Tyson Pot Roast

We do not buy much processed food. I'm a big fan of Michael Pollan's book Food Rules and so we strive to eat real food and cook most of it ourselves. Except when we go for fast food naughtiness too often. (Ahem, I digress.)

At any rate, one night when my brain was scrambled and dinner was NOT going to happen without some help from my husband John, he went to the grocery store for us. John chose a pot roast from the refrigerated section. A POT ROAST! You know, the food item your Grandma makes on Sunday afternoons because it takes hours to do it right? Well this one took a few minutes in the microwave, and was so delicious we scraped our plates and I was a little angry there was not more of it. I was THRILLED, mortified and stunned about how easy it was. Since the ingriedient label wasn't as long, complicated and gross as one might imagine, I decided we would buy this again sometime as soon as possible.

A few days later we were in the grocery store and I was looking for the pot roast. I was a woman on a mission. We got it home and when I cooked it, it didn't smell as good as I remembered and didn't look very appealing. I asked my husband if he'd shredded it or something to make it look so yummy the other time, and he said "Not really". I tried shredding it a bit but it wasn't real tender like I remembered and didn't smell like pot roast in my food fantasies. When I plated it and we sat down to eat I took one bite and was grossed out. It tasted like wet chunk dog food smells. I was mortified. I didn't eat it. I rarely let food sit idle around me, so you must understand this was A BIG DEAL. I was so disappointed. My husband did eat his, but he sure didn't come after my serving. We talked at length and figured it must have been a different brand of pot roast we bought the first time.

I actually got online after dinner and we figured out the pot roast my husband bought was HORMEL Pot roast with au jus. The nasty pot roast that was everything you would expect from a microwavable meat item was Tyson. I'm remembering the difference by the "T" T is for terrible, and the Tyson pot roast was TERRIBLE.

I was so disgruntled I called Tyson ("dinner made easy") to complain. I talked to David on 6/14/11 at 4:19 EST. I asked if they had an au jus version of their pot roast, he said they did not. I explained that we rarely buy processed food but my husband had brought home a packaged roast beef in au jus and we LOVED it and meant to buy it again. I said we bought a Tyson roast which was packaged similarly but was unappealing to look at and was so nasty tasting I didn't even eat, and I am not a girl who misses meals. He asked what exactly was wrong with it. I said it tasted like dog food. Which it did. He thanked me curtly for my feedback and said "I appreciate your feedback and will report it." End of call! No apology, no refund, nada. I guess they aren't just missing quality and flavor, but customer service as well.

I went to the Hormel web site and was pleased to find the right pot roast. I was also happy to read this:

"From microwave to plate in just four minutes and now with no preservatives, Hormel® refrigerated entrees are the centerpiece of a hearty, nutritious family meal! Just combine one of our entrees with your favorite side dish to help build a convenient meal in minutes."

This information made me feel pretty good about using Hormel brand of processed food in a pinch.
I emailed Hormel ("Life better served") through their website right after my Terrible Tyson phone call. Here it is:

"I LOOOOVED your beef roast, we rarely buy packaged food and my husband bought this. Meant to buy it AGAIN the NEXT WEEK but accidentally bought Tyson's beef roast. It was ugly looking and so nasty I didn't even eat it. When I called to complain I was curtly thanked and that was the end of the offer for refund or apology etc. I am a customer service blogger and cannot WAIT to write this one."

I got kind of a blase form letter reply in my email the next day. For as fabulous as their pot roast is, I would like to see a little more personality in their customer service interactions. Here is their response:

Mrs Novak,

We appreciate your taking the time to contact us with your compliment on HORMEL® Beef Roast Au Jus.

We continually strive to achieve the highest quality possible in our products. It is nice to hear from consumers who feel we have met this goal and appreciate our efforts.

Thank you for your comments.


Consumer Response Representative

Ref # 2061120

I guess when your pot roast is that good what more do you need? Well, I would have loved a coupon or something. Especially since I wasted seven or eight dollars on their competitor's 'meat'. I would have been over the moon with a measly little coupon. Great customer service is about more than just responding quickly or having a solid, desirable product. Having a satisfied customer isn't enough, you want to have Raving Fans! Hormel could have made me a raving fan of their COMPANY not just their one food item. It was a missed opportunity to do a little more and gain a lot in the way of brand loyalty from a customer. I still like them, but I'm not in love. (It's not you, it's me.) We will buy the Hormel Beef Roast Au Jus again, but we aren't running to the store this time. Even though their seductive meaty deliciousness still calls me. Mmmm. I'm once again gun shy of processed foods and look forward to attempting to make my own grass fed pot roast in the crock pot at home. I sure hope I earn Raving Fans!


  1. Hey, girlie! You inspired me to share my OWN recipe. Check out my recent blog post:

  2. OOOH I will go read that NOW. Ugh, check out the link from my friend on FB to a MOther Jones article on Hormel. I may be vegetarian again.