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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

209

We Wouldn't Have to Eat Kraft Dinner

...wait, we've made that 1990s musical reference before. Sorry! The Walrus has more details than you could possibly imagine. This is the only seven page article about Kraft Dinner you will ever need. Also, read The Walrus.

If you belong to Canada’s comfortable class, you probably think of the dish as a childish indulgence and a clandestine treat. The bite-sized tubular noodles are so yielding and soft, you will say a little sheepishly, and next to impossible to prepare al dente. The briny, glistening orange sauce tastes a little bit sweet and a little bit sour — at once interesting, because of the tension between the two flavour poles, but not overly challenging or unfamiliar. And its essential dairyness connects it to that most elemental of foods: a mother’s milk. KD is the ultimate nursery food, at least if you were born and raised in Canada, where making and eating cheese has been a part of the culture since Champlain brought cows from Normandy in the early 1600s — a tradition nearly as venerable as the fur trade. It may be the first dish children and un-nested students learn to make (“make,” of course, being a loose term; “assemble” may be more accurate). This only strengthens its primal attractions.

Okay, about Kraft Dinner? My dad once spent all day making homemade mac and cheese (he usually made his own pasta, but I kind of doubt he made the little macaroni kind? it did take a LONG TIME), and when my mom came home from work she was a little bit on auto-pilot, and three bites in, she said: "Hey, this is great. Did you make one box or two?"

And it was my dad's Betty Friedan moment, I think, because he never made homemade mac and cheese again, and they're divorced now. Hence the Kraft Dinner. But not Easy Mac, because that's just...giving up.



209 Comments / Post A Comment

Slutface

I make my own version using rotini noodles (they hold more cheese) and fat free processed cheese. I know it sounds gross, but the taste is INSANE.

LotaLota

@Slutface Agreed on the rotini for that very reason. And when I make either mac 'n cheese or scalloped potatoes, part of my recipe is just "open the cheese drawer and throw some of everything into it". But an absolute must for me is to top it with with croutons, followed with a sprinkle of shredded cheese. The croutons brown beautifully and the crispy crunchy goodness is a great contrast to the tender pasta.

KeLynn

@Slutface - do you mean like Velveeta? or sliced American or something?

Slutface

@KeLynn It's just store brand processed cheese. Disgusting but oh so tasty.

The Lady of Shalott

And really expensive ketchups! Dijon ketchups!

I would never sully KD by adding ketchup, or like a former roommate who filled it with ground beef.

ReginaChristina

@The Lady of Shalott
Marry Me.
Personally I like those little sausages in the can!

The Lady of Shalott

@ReginaChristina They have pre-wrapped sausages but they don't have pre-wrapped bacon. Well, can you blame them? Yeah!

ThatWench

@The Lady of Shalott But what about that all-important childhood factor of adding cut-up hot dogs?

I feel like this is the beginning of a great themed dinner party, where the dress code is cruelty-free green dresses or showing up, well, barenaked.

dale

@ThatWench I would attend that dinner party.

travelmugs

@The Lady of Shalott I add pickled beets to mine? Anyone else?

cuminafterall

@travelmugs Mac & cheese makes me bloaty so I can't eat a lot of it, but if I made a whole pot to eat myself, I would definitely add pickled beets. Do they turn the sauce pinkish?

science is sexy@twitter

@The Lady of Shalott ground beef, broccoli, and spinach. Possibly zucchini or summer squash, if we have any around the house. Oh god why am I like this

AmandathePanda

@cuminafterall I love Kraft Mac & Cheese but it also makes me super bloated. I think it's the insane amounts of sodium.

I am in the hot dog camp, myself, especially since I hate pickled beets.

yeahiguess

@The Lady of Shalott Kraft Dinner and Kraft Dinner only, please. Save the add-ins for that fancy President's Choice white cheddar shit.

schrodingers_cat

@The Lady of Shalott I only add frozen peas to mine.

fondue with cheddar

@ThatWench I don't have a green dress, so can I show up dressed as some kind of exotic pet? Like a llama? Or an emu?

Heat Signature

@The Lady of Shalott I always thought this was just a throwaway line until I realized that people ACTUALLY PUT KETCHUP on mac and cheese, and that one of these people was my husband.

fondue with cheddar

@Heat Signature I thought only kids did that! I could see mixing some spaghetti sauce in, but ketchup? I only like ketchup on fried potatoes.

Heat Signature

@jen325 My husband has a child's heart, and I mean that in the best possible way.

BornSecular

@travelmugs I got "creative" one time and added cut up smoked sausage, habanero chili jelly, and parmesan cheese. Viola! Spicy Mac-n-Cheese, the manly man(and woman)'s favorite!

fondue with cheddar

@Heat Signature I interpreted it in the best possible way. :)

ThatWench

@jen325 Only if you bring some sort of monkey. I've always wanted a monkey at my dinner parties.

fondue with cheddar

@ThatWench DUDE, I HAD THAT VERY LINE IN MY HEAD IMMEDIATELY BEFORE READING YOUR COMMENT. Thank you for italicizing "key".

ThatWench

@jen325 When using vocal muscles to reference (or sing along with) this song, I am frequently guilty of reaching ear-pain-inducing levels of shrillness on that syllable, so my back-of-the-head voice is always basically just repeating "you have a one-octave limit on it this time."

fondue with cheddar

@ThatWench Haha, that's awesome. I tend to sing it in the same pitch he did in the recording, however I always rise up on my tiptoes and/or raise my shoulders and/or crane my neck on that syllable.

lora.bee

@The Lady of Shalott OF COURSE WE WOULD, WE'D JUST EAT MORE

(Late to the BNL party, wahh.)

purple monkey dishwasher

@The Lady of Shalott My college roommate not only put ketchup on her KD, but also put it on plain noodles AS IF IT WAS PASTA SAUCE. Ketchup is not pasta sauce! It makes me gag just thinking about it.

area@twitter

Delicious prefab mac and cheese! We never had mac and cheese in my house as a kid. When I tasted the Richfood brand stuff as a teenager, I was like "what is this toothsome delight, get in my mouth". And then in college I tried homemade mac and cheese and that was a revelation.
I have a weird thing going on where I'll devour either homemade mac and cheese OR the cheapest store-brand stuff I can find, but nothing in between. Does anyone else do this? Maybe it's because the super-cheap stuff is so far removed from homemade that it becomes a separate dish?

TheLetterL

@area@twitter I love all mac and cheese, all of the time, BUT there are definitely occasions that call for one or the other. Terrible day? Take away your pretentious pasta and fancy cheese sauce and cooking, dammit, bring on the box!

Beatrix Kiddo

@area@twitter I don't do this with mac and cheese, because processed cheese is one of the only things I just can't stomach at all, but I know what you mean about the cheap, fake version being OK because it's so far removed from the original. This is why I love "blue raspberry" flavor-- it's just a completely different thing than actual raspberries, so it can't be a poor imitation.

ThatWench

@area@twitter For the first time in my life, I live in a neighborhood that takes its mac seriously, which means I have easy access to dive-ish places that make it a million times better than I have ever managed.

Not long ago, I had the honor of introducing such dishes to a young woman from France. When choosing where to go for dinner, I asked what her experience was with mac and cheese, only to have her describe a distant memory involving Buffalo, NY and a blue box. As it turned out, fried chicken was also a revelation, and a good night was had by all.

TL;DR: Yes, they are two very, very different foods, each with their own virtues. Having eaten one does not provide you with any grounds for understanding the other.

KeLynn

@area@twitter - Ooooo or what about the crappy cafeteria mac n' cheese? The only place I can think of that I can find it anytime I want is IKEA. But it, too, is totally removed from both box mixes and homemade stuff. And it is so good. I feel like it's "tangier" than most and that's what's so addicting. And the cheese sauce is so thick. Mmmmmm

celeec4@twitter

@TheLetterL YES. And if its a really, really bad day? Easy Mac. Or instant ramen. :D

Interrobanged

The really gourmet stuff is President's Choice White Cheddar mac and cheese.

Megasus

@Interrobanged BEST KIND

anitabath

@Interrobanged Yes times a billion! With hot sauce. Also, "We eat 3.2 boxes each in an average year"? Since when is a year only 14 days long?!

anitabath

@anitabath Seriously though, I ate PC white cheddar for dinner last night and just finished reading all these comments and already I am wondering if lunch today is too soon to eat another box of PC or KD.

oh! valencia

@Interrobanged Absolutely agree!

whateverlolawants

@Interrobanged Is this available in the US?

Interrobanged

@whateverlolawants I don't think so! It's the store brand for Loblaws, which I think is only in Canada?

yeahiguess

@Interrobanged ermahgerd yes.

lisma

@Interrobanged I feel like the super gourmet is Stouffer's frozen macaroni and cheese. Cooked in the oven if you can wait for it.

whateverlolawants

@Interrobanged Sad... but there's a store called Loblaws?! Is it owned by Bob? Does he write a law blog?

Elleohelle

@whateverlolawants I read Loblaws and thought the EXACT SAME THING.

Ten Thousand Buckets

@whateverlolawants I didn't finish catching up with Arrested Development until a few months ago, and laughed at his name for the opposite reason.

Loblaws also does the pretty decent No Name brand. It comes in a plain yellow box with the food item name written on the front.

Dancercise

Annie's > Kraft

Megasus

@Dancercise ACTUAL BEST KIND BUT USUALLY CAN'T AFFORD IT

permanentbitchface

@Dancercise Yes. Sometimes it goes on sale though! There was a $1/box sale once and I pretty much cleared them out.

fabel

@Dancercise PEACE PASTA

Punk-assBookJockey

@Megano! The Trader Joe's version ("organic shells and white cheddar") is sooo good. Maybe even better than the original.

Megasus

@Punk-assBookJockey We don't have Trader Joe's here :(

Punk-assBookJockey

@Megano! Aw, sorry! If you ever visit someplace that has one, just take my word for it and get like 10 boxes. You won't regret it.

nowwhat

@Punk-assBookJockey Good to know. I tried the Whole Foods version once and it was a pale, sandy shadow of Annie's.

iknowright

@Dancercise YES. Though the "Aged Cheddar" kind has the exact same ingredients as the regular "Cheddar" kind, but costs a dollar more. I felt preeeeettty clever the day I figured that out, even if I did get the side-eye from a bunch of hippie moms for buying a boxed meal at the co-op. WHAT I LIKE IT OK YOUR APPLE COST YOU $3.50 DON'T JUDGE ME.

Ham Snadwich

@Dancercise - Incorrect! The goodness of boxed macaroni and cheese is inversely proportional to its price. The oranger, the better.

mistakeshavebeenmade

@Megano! Well, PC Deluxe White Cheddar > Annie's > Kraft, as mentioned above. ;-) Plus, for bonus points, Canada is one of those first world countries (i.e. all of them except the US) that outlawed BGH so you don't have to pay up for the good stuff there. It's *all* BGH-free, even the Kraft. I can't even begin to describe how awesome it is up there.

Vicky

The best boxed mac & cheese is, by far, Wegmans-brand spirals. $.39/box. If you're one of the fancy types, grate in some raclette and baby you got a stew goin'.

Lady Humungus

@Vicky Johnson Whoa, whoa, whoa - there’s still plenty of meat on that bone!

fondue with cheddar

@Vicky Johnson YES YES YES Wegmans spiral mac & cheese.

But the real question is: Do you like ham in your mac & cheese?

KatPruska

@Vicky Johnson GodImissWegmanssomuch

notfromvenus

@Vicky Johnson Good to know! Wegman's is the best.

VelourFog

@Vicky Johnson Yes! The spirals are so much better than the elbows. I buy tons of that when it goes on sale.

Lila Fowler

Kraft doesn't get me too excited, but a box of Annie's with a can of tuna mixed in? Sign me up!

I've never made mc'n'cheese from scratch, but Padma Lakshmi has a recipe for it that makes me drool. Goat cheese, jalapeños, shallots, mmmmmmm...

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@Lila Fowler Ohhhh that sounds divine. I made my first mac and cheese of the season last week - who cares if it's not fall yet - and it was awesome. Who's ready to hibernate??

Ophelia

@sudden but inevitable betrayal What cheese did you use? What noodle shape?

frigwiggin

@Lila Fowler Mmm, Annie's and tuna. *high-five* I make my own once or twice a year (because it uses like three pounds of cheese) and I love it, but they're two completely different animals!

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@Ophelia Cheddar and gruyere, and parmesan on top. I used this one, http://www.masterchef.com.au/recipes/truffle-mac-n-cheese.htm, minus the truffle and with penne instead because it's what I had. :)

Ophelia

@sudden but inevitable betrayal Mmmmm. Like.

KeLynn

@Lila Fowler - oh my gosh, I haven't had the kraft/tuna/breadcrumbs combo probably since my mom went on Weight Watchers. So like 15 years ago? I completely forgot about it until this conversation, but it is SO GOOD.

MoonBat

@KeLynn It is amazing! I used to babysit for a lady that left it for me and the kids as dinner, every time. She also added canned green peas. Life changing.

Ellie

@Lila Fowler I like to mix in peas and spinach and extra goat cheese and hot pepper flakes and olive oil and sometimes tuna. Soooooo good.

slutberry

@Lila Fowler I am so sad that Annie's gluten free mac & cheese kind of sucks. Gentleman and I get a box of regular and a box of GF and mix the cheese sauces, but it still isn't the Real Deal.

My favourite part of babysitting used to be eating Kraft Dinner or Annie's. ALL the Kraft Dinner.

aliceandstuff

I used to use the cheese packets to make home-made Taco Bell lava sauce and then use the noodles with velveeta to make awesome mac and cheese. It was win-win!

Tiktaalik

I like to make mine with some ground chorizo. It is THE BEST.

anachronistique

@Tiktaalik Chorizo, Italian sausage, meatballs, pulled pork, corned beef, leftover taco meat... but I think my favorite add-in ever is leftover meatloaf, diced up very finely.

Man, now I'm hungry.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@Tiktaalik Oh god chorizo. Chorizo makes everything amazing.

Ophelia

I kind of love making "real" mac and cheese (gruyere and cheddar cheese mixed together...I will eat ALL of it). And sometimes, to make it orange, I add in butternut squash and HOLY GOD is it delicious. I'm just saying.

Homemade Mac > Annies > Kraft

(throwdown!)

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@Ophelia oooooh tell me more about this squash adding...?

Ophelia

@sudden but inevitable betrayal Sure! Get a can (or a box of frozen) butternut squash puree, and once you've got the cheese added to the sauce, add the packet of squash. Let it all cook together (stir it a lot so it can't burn) for the 10 mins that you're cooking the pasta. 1 8-oz can is about right for the amount of sauce that goes with 1lb of pasta. It's also particularly good on whole-wheat pasta if you want to make healthy (hahahahaha) mac and cheese - something about the nuttiness of the squash and the taste of the gruyere goes well with the stronger taste of whole wheat pasta.

I suppose you could also buy butternut squash and puree it, but frankly this is way easier. If you use frozen, defrost it first, and let it drain in a colander or some cheesecloth so it's not super liquidy when you add it in.

Ophelia

@Ophelia OH, and garlic. Add garlic to the sauce.

KatieBarTheDoor

@Ophelia YUM. Making this. I've also seen recipes floating around that call for a bunch of cauliflower, I guess to replace some of the noodles? But this sounds better.

Ophelia

@KatieBarTheDoor Yeah, I am a cauliflower-hater, so you will never see that in any recipe. But for some weird reason, my mom ALWAYS made broccoli when we had mac and cheese when I was little, and I can confirm that it makes a good side-vegetable for this recipe :)

highjump

@Ophelia OH, and garlic. Add garlic to the sauce.

Well this is relevant to every recipe.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@KatieBarTheDoor Speaking of cauliflower: Moosewood Cookbook's Pasta al Cavolfiore. Comfort food deliciousness, and also SO much cheese.

olivebee

My health food-loving mother ruled our pantry with an iron fist while I was growing up, so I never got boxed Kraft mac & cheese. When I got to college, I binged on it so hard.

ReginaChristina

I ate so much as a child (Canadian here) that now even the smell makes me gag.

But yeah, it's an obsession for many Canadians

RNL
RNL

@ReginaChristina I had no idea this was a Canada thing. In fact, I still don't believe it sort of. The allure always seemed to me to be that it was so... American?

But I grew up in a hippie household, where all corporate, processed, or packaged things were othered, which may explain the weird association I have between KD and America.

faience

@RobotsNeedLove It was a surprise to me too as an American when I moved to Canada about 12 years for school. And it's elevated in a way that its not back in the US as a symbol of comfort and identity. There is also something about fake cheese here like this cheese spread in a jar thats rather popular.

Now Im wondering if KD crosses the Anglo-Francophone cultural line the way poutine does... Off to find someone who might know.

Andrea K@twitter

@ReginaChristina If you're willing to count Franco-Manitobans, it totally does.

ReginaChristina

@faience I'm pretty sure it is for Quebecois too. This lady \ will check with her Quebecois gentleman caller. I do know, however, that 70s style cuisine is rather popular still in Que. So...yeah... unfortunate...

straw hat

@ReginaChristina Yeah I think we pretty much feel the same about KD over here in Quebec. I grew up in a hippie household though, I only had some when I went over to the neighbors... so I might not be the best judge.

suchagoodone

@ReginaChristina I'm Canadian and went to University in the states where they don't even call it Kraft Dinner! I introduced my roommates to eating KD with ketchup (the classic Canadian lunch) - and also eating grilled cheese sandwiches with ketchup? Was this just a one-off household of girls or is eating cheesy things with ketchup a uniquely Canadian passtime?

olivebee

Also, my favorite mac & cheese in the world is the kind at Noodles & Co. So rich and delicious.

aliceandstuff

@olivebee I really miss Noodles & Co, but I have not lived near one for a long time now. I always try to get my mother to go with me when I go back to Wisconsin for Christmas but she just says "It's a bunch of noodles!"

Quinciferous

@aliceandstuff Your mom kind of has a point -- but I am with you on the deliciousness! Really, what more does one need in life than a bunch of noodles?

m. marie

"The bite-sized tubular noodles are so yielding and soft, you will say a little sheepishly" Wtf whaaaat? No I won't, I will never say that. That makes mac and cheese sound so dirty. Just eat the pasta like a normal person, guy.

The Lady of Shalott

I actually don't like real mac&cheese that much. It's okay. But box KD is what you eat on a bad day when you don't feel like cooking! Shit son, I'll eat that shit with a spoon. I'm not going to fuck around with organic mac and cheese or homemade, just give me the fluorescent orange junk please!

Coal Tar Epoxy

@The Lady of Shalott Right out of the pot. Fuck bowls.

The Lady of Shalott

@The Angels Have the Phonebox Just one more dish to wash!

yeahiguess

@The Angels Have the Phonebox werd.

Lorelei@twitter

@The Angels Have the Phonebox yesss also fewer dishes is important because if you let that stuff sit even like, an hour before washing the sauce turns into bright orange cheese cement.

hands_down

I grew up eating Kraft and loved it. Now I make fancy homemade with brie and that tastes great, too. Ketchup and hot dogs are essential to both.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@hands_down Brie mac and cheese?! Oh my god.

Ophelia

@sudden but inevitable betrayal OMG, it's like the upscale version of velveeta.

ReginaSavage

I ate it a lot as a kid and still always keep a box or 2 on hand. Sometimes when I'm lazy I make it with whatever leftovers I have on hand or throw a can of tuna and some red pepper in it. Its pretty much the greatest thing ever.

darklingplain

When I was little my health food obsessed parents would make us whole wheat, organic Annie's, which was not very good. Then we would go over to friends' houses and beg for Kraft.

schrodingers_cat

@darklingplain My mom always made homemade mac and cheese, and my sister and I always complained because we wanted the stuff our friends ate, that came in a blue box. Now I make homemade mac and cheese and feel bad about complaining to my mom.

polka dots vs stripes

My mother calls this "pasta and glue" but it was our go-to summertime special-treat lunch. I make it occasionally but always make sure there's some left over because the only thing better than fresh mac n cheese is day-old & reheated mac n cheese.

charlesbois

Oh my, the part about your parents was a little depressing. Maybe because Kraft mac & cheese is my husband's go-to dish when we are fighting and I don't feel like cooking dinner for us. I personally have never been able to stomach the stuff.

maybe partying will help

Somehow I got through college without ever really doing the poor-students-eating-EZ-Mac thing (I think it's because we never ate any mac and cheese when I was a kid, and then I tried to make some for my sister freshman year and managed to fuck it up. Yes, I fucked up mac and cheese from a box), and now I guess it's catching up with me because I pretty much only ever want to eat Kraft's "homestyle" mac and cheese lately.

MissMushkila

I love boxed mac and cheese because you can seemingly add ANYTHING to it and it only makes it better. I usually add cayenne pepper to mine and whatever is in the fridge. Although I'm not sure the cayenne is unique, as I keep it on the table with the salt and pepper and generally treat it as a normal condiment.

anachronistique

@MissMushkila Chipotle Tabasco sauce. You will never go back.

okaycrochet

@MissMushkila Growing up, it was peas, carrots, and sliced hot dogs. But if my dad was cooking for us, it was TUNA AND PEANUT BUTTER D: D: D: D: D: D: D: D: D: We still ask him why he did that to us. His answer, always: "More Protein."
Wee--eerd.

Ophelia

@okaycrochet The baffling thing here is why not tuna OR peanut butter?

trix-are-for-kids

@MissMushkila: my husband once made me a sandwich for work (awwww... adorbs!) made up of Thai Spicy tuna and nutella.. I asked him when I got home why the nutella. His answer: "there wasn't any mayo left"... my husband: I love him.

okaycrochet

@Ophelia I seriously don't know. Maybe he didn't want to dip too deeply into the family reserves of either, so he went halvsies?
Also, though he never says anything about it, I think he must have actually liked the flavor combo.

royaljunk

I still get a craving for specifically the wagon wheel-shaped pasta variety of Kraft Mac every now and then. Don't ask me why but wagon wheels are the BEST.

But as a Southerner, the best mac and cheese is actually the baked casserole kind that for some reason counts as a "vegetable" side dish.

KatieBarTheDoor

@royaljunk Yes. Where the baked cheese is so thick on the top that it forms a crust.

Roxanne Rholes

@royaljunk The wagon wheels are the best because they are easy to scoop up with a fork!

royaljunk

@Roxanne Rholes YES

royaljunk

@KatieBarTheDoor The crust is totally the best part. Mmmm crust

Ophelia

@royaljunk Oooh, I was just about to post asking if anyone actually likes their mac and cheese baked. I don't, and part of it is that I don't like when people either put breadcrumbs on it, or when parts of the noodles get hard from the oven.

But I'm a northerner, so.

RNL
RNL

@royaljunk Omg crust. But my mom used to wheat germ mixed with melted butter (hippie!) which sounds gross but is totally delicious, all fatty and crunchy and a little bit sweet.

royaljunk

@Ophelia Yeah, I love it all crunchy on top and gooey underneath (crispy corners!) but it definitely depends on what you grew up with. (I also like baked rice pudding. Southerners!!)

KatieBarTheDoor

@RobotsNeedLove Wheat germ sounds interesting! A coworker of mine makes a slightly less healthy variety with Ritz crackers smashed up with butter crumbled all over the top, and it is one of the greatest things ever.

@royaljunk I never thought much about it being a Southern thing before, but I'm with you here. You've just described mac&cheese heaven.

KatnotCat

@royaljunk It's because those little tube shaped pastas are the worst shape for mac and cheese. Whats the point?

Scandyhoovian

If I had a million dollars, I'd buy you a green dress (but not a real green dress, that's cruel).

themmases

Macaroni and cheese is bizarrely good with Greek yogurt instead of (or replacing half of) butter or margarine or whatever.

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@themmases brb, running out to buy a box and try this

New Commenter Name

@themmases
Similarly, I add sour cream instead of the yogurt you mention. But what is this "replacing" concept? I am not cutting down on butter, thanks but no thanks.

themmases

@Curiouser and curiouser I don't think it really needs a liquid (also, I don't want to keep milk around) so I just add yogurt instead of margarine or do half and half. But I usually use that half yogurt stuff, so I guess I'm actually using an unknown proportion?

I don't know, I just wanted to see if it would work really. And give me another excuse to buy more Greek yogurt.

stonefruit

@themmases In elementary school, a friend of mine introduced me to putting cottage cheese in my Kraft mac & cheese. DAIRY POWER-UP! It is delicious.

Hot Doom

While reading this, I only just realised that I am now a grown up and I can go out and buy this myself (it hadn't occurred to me, and I'mmm old enough to know how old I am). I haven't eaten it since I was about 12 or so and my mom stopped buying it, so I have missed out: I had to look up what 'Easy Mac' was because all I remember is the powdered crap that I LOVE(D). Except I'm really bothered by the "cheesey pasta" as it is apparently marketed in the UK. It is so much more (less?) than that. I am going ot go buy some and eat it straight out the pan.

LacunaKale

Mac and cheese from a box is one of those things that I'll eat when I'm sick and no other time. See also, canned soup, and non-hippie yogurt. There's just something about weird food additives and a cold that go so well together. Maybe I'm subconsciously trying to preserve myself form the inside out like one of those Bodies exhibits.

celeec4@twitter

@LacunaKale "Maybe I'm subconsciously trying to preserve myself form the inside out like one of those Bodies exhibits."

You have, so perfectly described my eating habits while ill. Stealing this description forever.

redonion

Oh macaroni and cheese, how I love you in all your varieties. I am the person for whom macaroni and cheese is pretty much its own food group. I learned how to say macaroni and cheese in French and Russian so I could announce my favorite food to the class during that food language lesson. I grew up on Kraft Dinner, which was as close as my mom got to cooking. When I made it for myself, I would add cream cheese and some shredded cheddar to "fancy it up." Kraft mac and cheese was our drunk food in college. We would make giant bowls with multiple boxes. Now I make homemade based on my grandma's recipe with all the fancy cheeses (my lunch today is leftover mac with cheddar and Sriracha), and I have Annie's and Kraft on standby for days I just don't have time to cook. Mac and cheese!

HereKitty

@redonion This whole recitation just makes me smile. Bon appetit with your bad self!

redonion

@HereKitty It is probably doing terrible things to my innards, but I am pretty sure my "stomach of steel" is due in part to large quantities of mac and cheese in my developmental years.

dale

Back in the day when I used to eat meat, I would fry up some corned beef, crumble it, and fold it into the mac and cheese. SO salty, like you felt you'd die of a heart attack right then, but very good.

Now I add heaps of steamed broccoli, so it's like having broccoli & cheese and mac & cheese at the same time. I prefer to make the whole thing from scratch, but sometimes you just don't want to stand in front of the stove that long.

Punk-assBookJockey

@dale Corned beef! I never thought of that! Sometimes I use diced ham and its pretty salty, but corned beef sounds amazing.

dale

@Punk-assBookJockey Give it a whirl! I don't think I ever tried ham, it was only ever fried ground hamburger or else the corned beef...and of course it only happened when we had a bit of extra money to be able to afford the meat.

area@twitter

This is an excellent opportunity to repeat one of my favorite taglines from college, muttered while heating up a container of the instant stuff (don't judge). "Easy Mac! Cheap and easy. Just like me!"

sheistolerable

Sorry about your parents, but as a cook, I -understand- -appreciate where he's coming from- don't not sympathize.

lisma

A friend of mine in high school declared she had the best recipe for Kraft mac and cheese. It turns out her recipe was dropping an entire stick of butter into the hot (drained) noodles and omitting the milk.
Ok.

phlox

@ginalouise I never have milk in the house, so sometimes I just use the butter. (Not a whole stick, that's like half a cup, isn't it?)

Valley Girl

@ginalouise My after-high-school boyfriend's recipe was to add an extra packet of cheese powder that he'd take from a second box that would then go to waste.

Ten Thousand Buckets

@phlox If I don't have milk, I just retain some of the starchy cooking water and proceed as normal.

3penny

STORYTIME. One summer I spent six weeks camping in the Alaskan taiga, as part of a field school, and we had an astonishing amount of Kraft Dinner in the supply pallets. One of the women in our group decided that she wanted to collect enough UPCs--it had to be at least 30, if memory serves--to get the classy Kraft mascot toolbox. So every six days, when her turn to cook came around, we knew what we were getting for meals.

I liked Kraft Dinner before that (though it was entirely unlike my dad's own kick-ass mac n cheese), but after a month of regular meals of it, I was completely KD'd out. It was years before I could look at it without wincing. But I think she earned the toolbox.

In related news, it is possible to get to a point where you fantasize more about fresh produce than about beer.

dale

@3penny Oh, I love those UPC collecting stories. Many moons ago, some bean company was having a save x-amount of labels and send them to us and we'll give you a crock pot. I made my boyfriend at the time eat however many tins of beans that was (it was probably around 30 or so) and I still have that crock pot. He didn't want it after we split, oddly enough.

teebs

This here is my favorite #1 best macaroni and cheese recipe. It is AMAZING.

punnyrunner

The Kraft veggie mac (the noodles are made with cauliflower so it is OK to Eat an Entire Box in One Sitting) is delicious by itself, but is best with cut up beef franks and pulled pork mixed in, drizzled with some barbeque sauce. You're welcome. Homemade beer mac and cheese is pretty tasty, too.

crookedlegs

@punnyrunner Yes! I secretly, shamefully love the veggie KD. Also, they put less in each box (3 servings instead of 4) so when I inevitably eat the entire package, I tell myself it was actually a healthy decision.

However, whole wheat KD is an ABOMINATION.

phlox

I did not even know that Kraft Dinner was macaroni and cheese wuntil university when a floormate said she was making mac and cheese to share and it turned out to be Kraft Dinner. I didn't eat a lot of Kraft Dinner growing up but it never occurred to me that it was same as the mac&cheese that my mom would make with the real cheese and crispy breadcrumb topping.

(And spirals all the way. I don't like the tubes!)

Derevkova

I must have been the only child that I knew who HATED Kraft Dinner. I ate it only once and promptly vomited. :/

Andrea K@twitter

When I was living abroad, the thing anyone headed back to Canada was always required to bring back was Kraft Dinner (and... Twizzlers? IDK, that's just me.) After Christmas care package season, I seem to recall throwing a party entirely so all the Canadians I knew could come over and eat Kraft Dinner. The European housemates were confused.

suchagoodone

@Andrea K@twitter TWIZZLERS! My American relatives request them every time we visit. Gotta love the greasy Canadian version. Also, when I was away at school I would stock up on Shreddies before we crossed the border.

Pop Pop

Last year I discovered vegan mac and cheese through my roommate- it's made with nutritional yeast and tofu and it tastes amaaaaaaaaazing. Plus close to zero fat, so perfect! Although I always take that to mean I'm entitled to an extra heap of dessert afterwards so.....

@serenityfound

@Pop Pop Recipe!

KatieBarTheDoor

@Pop Pop Yes yes recipe pleeeease!

KeLynn

@Pop Pop yes please! I bought nutritional yeast a while ago having no idea what to do with it (I tend to make poor choices at grocery stores) and until now it's only been sprinkled on my boyfriend's salads.

Pop Pop

@@serenityfound So the recipe is originally from the "Veganomicon" cookbook, which has really awesome things in it, even though I'm just a normal vegetarian. However this: http://ohsheglows.com/2009/05/10/healthy-comfort-food-vegan-mac-and-cheese/
approximates the recipe as close as possible, though I don't put tahini or soy milk in mine. What I do is make the sauce, boil pasta and then mash up a bunch of firm tofu. Mix all together into the baking dish, top with bread crumbs and cook for 30 minutes or so. The tofu adds protein and texture, but all the tangy cheese flavor comes from the nutritional yeast sauce. Also, you can toss in sautéed onions and mushrooms and it's super yummy!

Pop Pop

@KeLynn I never knew what to do with it either until my roommate showed me this vegan cookbook of hers. Seriously people, it's a great cookbook!

KatieBarTheDoor

@Pop Pop Oohhh thank you x2, both for the recipe and the cookbook recommendation. I also am just regular vegetarian but I like to eat vegan things, and I've been wanting a cookbook for a while!

phlox

@KeLynn It's awesome sprinkled on popcorn, too.

VolcanoMouse

@phlox I may have had nutritional yeast and popcorn as dinner these past two nights. DON'T JUDGE.

@serenityfound

Never, never, never Easy Mac. It doesn't mold. Don't ask me how/why I know this but I am way freaked out by a "milk product" that doesn't mold in some way after an extended period.

KatnotCat

No one else was raised on Velveeta? Velveeta is to Kraft as Joan Rivers is to a random plastic surgery addict who insists she's never had anything done. Which do you prefer?

dale

@KatnotCat Velveeta as in, used as a cheese sauce for mac and cheese? I never did that, we just ate it as slices. Though I also put cubes of it in my Lipton chicken noodle soup, too.

Why did I have such gross eating habits as a child? So much packaged food. I drank Tang, too, instead of real juice.

fabel

@KatnotCat I wasn't raised on it, but I LOVE IT. So terrible for you, but so good.

redonion

@KatnotCat Velveeta! Along with Kraft deluxe, it was for the days in college when we were feeling fancy/weren't sure there was milk in the house.

KatnotCat

@dale Oh yeah, it's called "Velveeta Shells &Cheese" and has superior shell-shaped pasta, not stupid tubes. The Velveeta comes in a large silver packet that you squeeze it out of, and won't melt unless the pasta is scalding hot and rarely melts fully. As @redonion points out, you don't even have to bother with the facade of milk to make it "healthy." It is truly terrible and delicious and holds much more nostalgic value for me.

Elsajeni

@KatnotCat YES, Velveeta Shells & Cheese! It is the only good boxed mac & cheese.

Pyxis

I once spent a month adding broccoli to Velveeta Shells & Cheese and eating it for almost every meal because it was healthy because vegetables! I had to quit when I actually looked at the nutritional information on the package.

redheaded&crazy

@KatnotCat I was raised on velveeta! Except velveeta in my grilled cheese sandwiches and on burgers, not in my KD. KD all the way.

(super late comment hah)

konata

This post makes me feel very patriotic. *sniff*

I used to eat kraft dinner like every day for lunch in elementary school.

charmcity

I feel sadly left out! My family never had mac and cheese growing up. We were a ramen-only clan. I guess we didn't want any fake cheese interfering with our sodium content. STRAIGHT NO CHASER.

celeec4@twitter

@charmcity Instant-ramen, the other comfort food of convenience. :D

KeLynn

Can we talk about the delicious-sounding idea on page 2 of lining the mac n cheese pan with puff pastry? I'm imagining it folded up at the top so you have to cut into it for the mac n cheese to ooze out. YUMMM

pdflibrarian

When I was a child my mother used to throw a slice of american cheese over leftover spaghetti noodles and call it mac and cheese. I thought the boxed stuff was only for rich people (seriously, I also thought all houses with more than 1 floor were mansions). Sometimes I got a box in my Christmas stocking.

I suspect my toddler would love the Kraft stuff, but we aren't rich so she'll have to settle for my homemade cauliflower mac and cheese.

fondue with cheddar

@pdflibrarian Okay, I'm a fan of plebian cuisine but that sounds disgusting.

batgirl

KD! Love this stuff, but all you people who add things to it, like hot dogs or beef, are crazy. KD should only be eaten in it's purest form. The only choice when making KD should be dry (with not all the powder mixed totally in) or soupy?

fondue with cheddar

@batgirl I disagree! It's good by itself, but I also like to eat it with peas and/or tuna and/or bacon bits.

Except not lately because the last time I threw up that's what I ate. (I did not throw up because of what I ate.)

fondue with cheddar

Of course we'd still eat Kraft Dinner, we'd just eat more.

I love real macaroni and cheese, but I like the fake stuff, too. As long as it's not Easy Mac.

bookfreak

@jen325 I would eat Easy Mac somewhat frequently in undergrad and it was fine, but when I came home for the summer and tried to use up my leftover packets it turned out globby and gross. I feel like it must have magical dorm-only properties.

fondue with cheddar

@bookfreak My issue is more the taste. It just doesn't taste as good as any other mac & cheese, including regular Kraft.

yeahiguess

best sad food.

katekari

Oh! Can I share my sad-funny KD story?

The best time I ate KD was several year ago. I was almost 27, it was Valentine's day, I was living with my boyfriend, and dealing with the nausea and malaise of an unwanted pregnancy, AND was waiting for my abortion appointment in two days. So you better believe I gave zero fucks about anything at all but getting through the next few days.

It was suppertime, and I was feeling barfy and miserable, and KD is such good comfort food sometimes. I made a box and started eating it out of the pot with the wooden spoon I used to make it, curled up on the couch in my PJs. And my boyfriend came and sat next to me, and we both shared that pot of KD, taking turns using the wooden spoon, and just being together. It was such a sweet and comforting moment, during a pretty dark period of my life.

Best Valentine's Day I've ever had, too. Kind of morbid, I guess, but there you have it.

etheline.

@katekari Kind of morbid, yes, but still strangely sweet.
That's the best kind of romance, those moments you can't plan for or rehearse.

fondue with cheddar

@katekari That is a really sad but sweet story. Sometimes the most beautiful moments come out of the worst experiences.

I've got an unwanted pregnancy KD story too, though I think it was technically the Wegmans version and not actual KD, but since it's related I thought I'd share. So I had an unwanted pregnancy and was planning to terminate, but even though I've never wanted kids it was sort of beautiful and magical and romantic and we were sort of savoring the moment while it lasted. Anyway, this one night we had KD (or store brand) with tuna and peas, along with Virgil's black cherry cream soda for dinner. Comfort food, since I wasn't feeling great. That night I got really sick. I had diarrhea and had to puke at the same time, so I puked up all the dinner (which was bright red and unsettling-looking) into the tub. It was A LOT, and he cleaned it all up without complaining. After 10 hours of this and increasing abdominal pain, we both called out of work and went to the hospital. Turns out I'd had an incomplete miscarriage, but it took nearly all day to figure that out. He was wonderful and didn't leave my side for a moment the whole time. It was a pretty intense bonding experience, and as horrible as the whole ordeal was I still have fond memories of it.

Morbid, but beautiful. Just like yours. Life is really strange sometimes, isn't it?

etheline.

We had a KD drive when I was in highschool. The crowning moment was arranging the boxes into a giant game of dominoes, descending down our school's main staircase. All 2,000 of us were let out of class to watch it unfold, with the boxes then packed up and shipped off to local food banks.
Oh, and I am SUPER Canadian, if that wasn't clear.

KatnotCat

Also I love these (I'm assuming) Canadian terms: "comfortable class" and "un-nested" students. God, you guys are SO CUTE.

Heat Signature

@KatnotCat My supervisor is Canadian and she is ADORABLE. She unironically used "sheesh" in an email.

ReginaChristina

@Heat Signature WHAT. WAIT. You can't use it unironically anymore? Sheesh! Hipsters ruin everything.

MissHalfway

The Walrus on The Hairpin!! This collision of two of my absolute favourite things makes me SO HAPPY.

Is It a Hat?

I'm BEYOND hungry right now...and lunch is still a half hour away. Reading these comments are like torture. Delicious, delicious torture.

KaiMcN@twitter

I had lobster mac & cheese with truffle oil and arugula a few months ago and it was great, but KD Alfredo is always going to be my go to "macaroni".

notfromvenus

Is it weird that I only like box mac & cheese and not the real kind? The texture of homemade mac & cheese grosses me out for some reason.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

GUYS I AM SO HUNGRY AND WE HAVE NO FOOD SO INSTEAD OF GOING GROCERY SHOPPING I AM SITTING HERE READING ABOUT DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF MAC AND CHEESE.

Lurkasaurus

I...do not like mac and cheese. Kraft Dinner, crazy add-ins, schmancy homemade versions - it doesn't matter what I try, I am just not a fan. I didn't like cheese as a kid, and while I am evolving, straight up noodles and cheese (particularly processed cheese food) is a bridge too far. Most people think I am some kind of alien when they discover this. It's a sad, lonely life :( Any other fellow aliens out there?

MoonFlavor

@Lurkasaurus Not me, but a friend of mine hates both mac and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. He gets harassed for it constantly.

etheline.

@MoonFlavor I feel for that guy. I can't take either, and also have a hate-on for hot dogs.
Kid food did nothin' for me.

TenyaLuna

@Lurkasaurus You're not the only alien! While I like noodles in a cheesy sauce (like alfredo, but not necessarily that high-brow) mac-n-cheese was never a thing for me. Dressed up with vegetables and hot sauce and whatnot okay, it's alll right for sustenance, but even as a kid I'd take spaghetti with marinara over mac-n-cheese. You'll never see me looking at any menu with mac-n-cheese and getting excited. Aliens unite?

yarabollocks

When we moved to Israel (from California) when I was 12 we brought a whole carton of Kraft Mac & Cheese with us. Nowadays I can get it (and basically anything "American" other than root beer for some reason) any time I want in any of the bazillion 24 hour minimarkets here in Tel Aviv. But 20 years ago it was a foreign delicacy.
My mom now makes an amazing homemade version, but still -- there's something about that day-glo orange and those little tubes that is total comfort food to me even now.

raelite

Prepare to have your KD minds blown: KD + Truffle oil + Mushroom Salt. Blam. I love how even if the box says it's expired, it still cooks up nicely :)

redheaded&crazy

i eat my KD with cottage cheese, and i love hearing what different variations people have for their mac n cheese. I've heard things like molasses, paprika, not to mention everything above.

what's funny to me is that when you tell somebody you eat, say COTTAGE CHEESE with your kd they react in shock and horror. but this is the way it is for pretty much addition i've ever heard (i.e. MOLASSES? WHAT THE FUCK?!)! people like their KD exactly the way they like it, nooo other way.

Caitlyn Dover@facebook

I love Kraft Mac and Cheese, it's so simple and easy, especially the little cups you just add water too and microwave, for a college student on a budget it's an ideal meal! But when I'm home we do love to take more time and actually make macaroni and cheese from scratch like your dad did, yes it does take a while but it's all worth it. Sometimes I tend to be like your mom was just on auto-pilot and not caring much about the little things in life. Maybe as Americans we should sit back, take a breathe, quit rushing through life so much and enjoy things like home cooked meals. Quit trying to find the easy way for everything.

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