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The contents of each box are combined with browned ground beef, water and milk to create a complete dish. The product line also features products with other starches such as rice or potatoes instead of pasta.
In 2007, General Mills removed the microwave cooking directions from Hamburger and Tuna Helper, mainly due to the launch of the Microwave Singles line, which was especially formulated for microwave cooking.
The Hamburger Helper mascot is the "Helping Hand", an anthropomorphic animated, four fingered left-hand glove, which appears in the product's television commercials and on the packages.
Hamburger Helper is available in numerous flavors, organized into various categories.
Although the classic boxed Hamburger Helper products only supply the starch item and the sauce packets, some varieties of the product include ground beef. These include a frozen food line, which features some of the brand's classic varieties in a complete meal kit form, with frozen ground beef and frozen sauce packaged separately from the noodles in the same bag. There is also an "instant" version of Hamburger Helper containing dehydrated meat, noodles and seasonings in a small pouch, requiring only water to be added.
Tuna Helper was the second variety to appear on the market in 1972, but has quickly lost popularity to Chicken Helper. Most are variations on cream or cheese based tuna casseroles. Since tuna does not need to be browned, the instructions begin with combining all ingredients together.
Chicken Helper was introduced in 1984 in response to the wide availability of inexpensive boneless, skinless chicken breast. Chicken Helper dishes are designed for use with sliced or cubed boneless skinless chicken breast, and are prepared in much the same way as Hamburger Helper except that it does not need to be drained.
Asian Helper is a selection of three Asian-American-style dishes, two hamburger and one chicken. Only Mongolian Beef is new, as Chicken and Beef Fried Rice were previously offered.
Whole Grain Helper are Lemon & Herb Chicken, Honey Mustard Chicken, Cheeseburger Mac and Stroganoff flavors made with whole-wheat pasta.
Fruit Helper was introduced in 1973. The products were desserts made with canned or fresh fruit. The Fruit Helper line has been discontinued.
Pork Helper was introduced in 2003. Varieties included Pork Fried Rice and Pork Chops with Stuffing. It was discontinued shortly after.
In 2006, Hamburger Helper Microwave Singles were introduced, which require only the addition of water and brief cooking in a microwave to produce a single serving portion of some of the most popular flavors. Chicken Helper flavors were added in 2007, but that line has since been discontinued.