Kraft Macaroni & Cheese: CHEDDAR EXPLOSION

I just made a box of the new Kraft Macaroni & Cheese “CHEDDAR EXPLOSION” variety for my kid. I’ve always kind of liked Kraft mac-n-cheese, although it seems to have gotten blander over the years. On the front of the box it says in huge letters: MORE CHEESE SAUCE and BIGGER SHAPES.

So I’m making the stuff, and I notice that the sauce prep has changed: it used to call for 4 tablespoons of margarine and 1/4 cup of milk, but now it calls for just 1/2 tablespoon of butter, but 1/2 cup of milk. That’s a pretty big change. Anyway, I made the stuff and we ate it. My son noticed right away that there seemed to be a lot less m&c even though the box was the same size.

I guess it tasted OK, but I’ve had a bad cold for the last week or so, so my taste buds are out of whack. My son thought it tasted “pretty good.”

Then we took a close look at the box. First, we noticed the total weight decreased from 7.25 oz in the old version to 5.5 oz in the CHEDDAR EXPLOSION version. That’s almost a 25% decrease in the amount of food. Yes, I know: “The food is terrible! And such small portions!”. There definitely seemed to be more sauce relative to the amount of macaroni, but I don’t know whether there was actually more sauce total. Bigger shapes? Maybe so, but there was definitely less macaroni. A lot less.

Then we looked at the ingredients. The biggest difference was that modified food starch was the second ingredient in the sauce mix. There wasn’t any of that stuff in the old version. I guess they needed to add something to soak up all that extra milk. There were some other interesting new ingredients in the sauce, too: “cheddar cheese” (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes) and “granular cheese” (same components). The real surprise was that the sauce now includes Parmesan cheese, dried buttermilk, blue cheese, and cream. Not surprisingly, Kraft chose not to call attention to the buttermilk and blue cheese on the box front.

They certainly seem to have gone to some effort to make the sauce more authentically cheesy, but maybe if they hadn’t put all that modified food starch in there, it wouldn’t have been necessary. Plus, it’s hard to forgive them for their little fib about BIGGER SHAPES. There was a lot less macaroni. I looked at the Nutrition Facts and where the old box had “about 3” servings, the new one has “about 2”. 33% less mac and cheese in the same box? I think it was the same price. Somebody’s going to the factory food hall of fame for that one.

All in all, a disappointment. I hope this CHEDDAR EXPLOSION variety is just a test and not indicative of changes to come for all varieties.

I guess if you eat fake food, you have to expect a lot of fakery.

Kraft mac & cheese has a whole bunch of “special” varieties, e.g. Dora the Explorer mac & cheese, spiral mac & cheese, etc. As far as I can tell, all of the special varieties contain less product in the box. I assume that they do this so that they don’t have to charge more for a box of the special stuff even though it costs slightly more to make.

It all tastes like complete ass to me, but my kids love the stuff, so.

Well, macaroni it tubular. If the tubes are bigger, then they will contain more empty space. So ‘bigger shapes’, contained in the same-size box, necessarily results in ‘less macaroni’. Not a fib.

I know you’re not necessarily looking for consumer satisfaction, but you should send your post, verbatim, to The Consumerist. They love posting about this kind of thing. This would probably fall under their “grocery shrink ray” category.

Theoretically, Americans need to shrink their portion size so…

Everyone knows Kraft Spirals mac n cheese is the best.

I didn’t know anybody still made it from the box with the advent of the microwave version. It’s just too easy.

Forget Kraft. Make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

Well yeah, preferably Alton Brown’s baked mac 'n cheese recipe. But if you have a passel of hungry kids after school and you work and there’s no time to slave over the stove… then Kraft is our friend.

Kraft is not our friend. Kraft wants you to feed shit to your kids. Macaroni and cheese from scratch takes about an hour to make, of which only about 20 minutes is spent making the white sauce and melting cheese into it while the macaroni boils. The baking time can be spent shoving apple slices or celery sticks into the gullet of your kids so they don’t die of starvation before dinner.

Well, who am I to argue with Kraft? Shit for lunch it is. If someone else doesn’t like it, they’re welcome to come to my house and spend an hour making lunch every day.

Seriously. It’s not the 50’s, I don’t wear an apron with my heels, and I work full-time. We balance it out with healthy food where we can, and that’s good enough for me.

Mr. S and I, who are both well into our grown-up years, enjoy sharing a box of Kraft mac & cheese now and then. It takes two brain cells to make (great for when you’re tired or sick), fills you up, and tastes good. Yes, I know it’s not authentic frou-frou homemade macaroni and cheese. never claimed it was. It’s just another kind of foodstuff. And just because Taco Bell isn’t authentic Mexican doesn’t mean it isn’t food in its own right.

The Kraft mac & cheese I ate after my surgery last fall was one of the best meals I ever had. Total comfort food.

Amen! I grew up eating mac & cheese from scratch, and to me there is no other way. When I got married, my husband had grown up eating Kraft mac & cheese, instant potatoes out of a box, Minute rice, and Ramen. The first time we went grocery shopping and he is putting these alien and foreign products in the buggy I looked at him like he had grown a second head. I swear, I had never seen a square brick of noodles in my life. He doesn’t eat any of that stuff anymore, and neither do our children.

Alot of the perceived difficulty is just whatever you are used to. Once you get a routine, it is just as easy as the box stuff.

At least when you make something from individual ingredients you have a better idea what is in it, and you are less likely to get ripped off on portion sizes like Hyperelastic’s family.

You people have to remember - there is macaroni and cheese, which should be made from scratch and is wonderfully silky and rich, and there is mac&cheese, which comes in a box and is comfort food. The two are not interchangeable!

And they both have their own place in the world. And in my house.
I’m feeling abnormal now… when I make homemade macaroni and cheese, it takes me like two hours and by the time I’m done, the kitchen is trashed, there’s flour everywhere, and I’m exhausted. It’s always worth it, but damn it sure is a lot of trouble.

frou-frou? Milk, butter, flour, salt, pepper, cheddar, and macaroni is frou-frou? Gosh, I learn something every day.

Oh, I completely get where you are coming from, and I am not trying to get all preachy and pious. I have my nights where I stop off and pick up a burger for the kids, believe me. My husband and I both work, too. We solve alot of our dilemmas by cooking alot of different foods one day a week and then heating it up for the next few days. For us, getting in the kitchen and rattling the pots and pans is social and fun, but I realize that might be someone else’s idea of the Seventh Circle of Hell.

Convenience foods are fine once in a while, but overall they are expensive and really bad for you. That’s become the American way. :smiley:

You know it! I have changed my own diet tremendously over the past couple of years with regards to fast food, simple carbs, sugar, etc., but with three boys over 11, sometimes you have to resort to whatever they can stuff their faces with, because they might, you know, die in the next three hours before dinner.

If it makes you feel better about feeding “mac&cheese” to your kid, for dinner I had a glass of bourbon, a bowl of imitation fruit loops and an apple.

Oh, and I’m still fine.