This post is by Eat With Me managing editor Catie.
Ever since I was little, I have loved mac and cheese. When I was around 6 or 7, I learned how to make the stuff in a box by myself (with supervision, of course). My parents tell me that I really loved Kraft, but the cheaper the better. The more neon orange the better, 6-year-old Catie must have thought. Now that I am older I have expanded my tastes to Annie’s Organic for the boxed deliciousness, as well as homemade (I can experiment with different cheeses!) and gourmet mac and cheese that costs $10 to $15 at the classy Boston restaurants. However I still have a soft spot in my heart for Kraft.
I think my real obsession here is with cheese and noodles (especially the crazy-shaped noodles) are just a vessel for the cheese, which is why I recently bought Phineas and Ferb shaped mac and cheese noodles. Don’t judge.
Anyway, I’ve been noticing that a lot of food companies are rebranding and going for a “throw-back” packaging of simpler times (the 1970s?) and so of course I noticed that Kraft not only has simpler, cleaner packaging but has also come out with a “homestyle” mac and cheese. I was intrigued by this and decided to try this monster out so you guys don’t have to.
This is the promising product:
The fine print says “Real Kraft cheese sauce and ridged elbow macaroni finished with a crunchy breadcrumb topping.” Doesn’t that sound elegant? (Minus the real Kraft cheese sauce— what does that even mean… real?)
Inside the packaging, I found the following:
The directions were pretty simple and a lot like making the regular box stuff, so I boiled the noodles, then melted the butter.
Then you add in the seasoning mix, which looks a lot like flour and a few spices.
Then I added the milk. I was thinking, Hey, this is just like a roux! This is a roux! Way to be a legit product that maybe teaches people how to actually cook instead of just mixing a packet of orange crap in with noodles. But then, I encountered the “real Kraft cheese sauce” which is exactly like Velveeta:
I wasn’t sure if I could eat this, but I persevered and stirred. It looked a little more like your average Kraft cheese.
But also a little like plastic that I could pour into a mold to make little orange figurines with. I continued with the directions and stirred in the noodles, then transferred that to a baking dish and sprinkled the noodles with the breadcrumbs.
As this was baking in the oven, I couldn’t help but think that this was a great product all up until the cheese sauce packet and it could actually really be homemade if I had replaced the cheese slime with actual cheese. And it would have taken the same amount of time. Krafty.
I served the semi plasticky mac and cheese with the traditional school lunch side of peas and carrots, and it wasn’t half bad. However, if I’m going to all the trouble to basically make a real homemade mac and cheese, I’d rather do it without Kraft and their “real Kraft cheese sauce.”