In the interest of not being sued (the email has one of those confidentiality thingy's at the end) I won't post a reprint of the email I got back from Zeke's, but here's the summary.
They attributed the softer product to the new packaging (sealed better probably), and while they didn't outright admit that the formula had been changed, they did say that the Z-bones are designed to be softer --> I'm assuming that the unsaid statement is "....than the Z-ridges". The reason given was that the softer product prevents it from breaking into potentially hazardous choking pieces.
Zeke's did say I could leave the bones out of the package to dry them out (tried that and it still isn't close to how the old product was), or baking them in a 120 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Haven't tried that......
As far as the variety goes, they suggested the apple flavor as the closest to the original flavor Z-ridge that I liked.
So, I'm dissapointed. I don't like the new, softer product and don't particularly want to pay top dollar for something that I'm going to turn around and bake in my oven (If my boyfriend doesn't like my biothane endurance tack in the dishwasher, horse blankets and pads in the washer, I'm not sure how he's going to feel about dog cookies in the oven.....). I'm still interested in a dental treat that makes a difference, but for now, I'll probably give her plenty of other stuff for her to chew on like nylabones and ropes and hope that makes a difference.
I'm in the process of composing a Tess update post --> We tried agility lessons, found a book that changed both of our lives, and went on a 4 day backpacking trip together. In the meantime, go over and check out this very cool paper that just published online: "Empathic-like responding by domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) to distress in humans: an exploratory study". It's posted in the Mendeley journal club link found in the sidebar of the blog.