|Nutritional value per 2.5 oz. (70 g),
about 1 cup prepared
|Energy||260 kcal (1,100 kJ)|
49 g prepared
7 g prepared
|Dietary fiber||1 g
1 g prepared
19 g prepared
4.5 g prepared
4 g prepared
11 g prepared
|Sodium, prepared||710 mg (29%)|
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
Kraft Dinner (Canada), known as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese or Kraft Mac and Cheese in the United States and Australia and Macaroni Cheese or Cheesey Pasta in the United Kingdom, is a packaged dry macaroni and cheese mix. The product was first introduced in 1937 in the United States by Grant Leslie of Dundee, Scotland. It is now available in several other formulations including Easy Mac, a single-serving designed specifically for cooking in microwaves.
The prerequisite to creating packaged macaroni and cheese was the development of "processed" cheeses in which emulsifying salts help stabilize the product, giving it a longer life. James Lewis Kraft, originally of Fort Erie, Ontario but then living in Chicago, did not invent processed cheese but won a patent for one processing method in 1916 and began to build his cheese business.
The idea for selling macaroni and cheese together as a package came about during the Great Depression when a St. Louis, Missouri salesman began attaching grated cheese to boxes of pasta with a rubber band. In 1937, Kraft introduced the product in the U.S. and Canada. The timing of the product's launch had much to do with its success. During World War II, rationing of milk and dairy products, an increased reliance on meatless entrees, and more women working outside the home, created a nearly captive market for the product, which was considered a hearty meal for families. Its shelf life of ten months was attractive at a time when many Canadian homes did not have refrigerators.
New product lines using different flavors and pasta shapes and increases to shelf life were introduced over the decades. Kraft Dinner is still seen as inexpensive, easy to make comfort food, with marketing to highlight its value and convenience.
The product now comes in several compositions:
- The "Original Recipe" of dry macaroni pasta and powdered processed cheese.
- The "Deluxe" form, with the powdered processed cheese replaced with a prepared processed cheese spread that comes in a foil pouch (cheese sauce formerly came in a can). This allows the cheese to be applied directly to the cooked pasta without additional preparation or ingredients. The pasta is also different; elbow macaroni replaces the thin, straight macaroni supplied as part of the "Original Recipe."
- The "Homestyle" form, is the newest form of Kraft Mac & Cheese. It is similar to the "Deluxe" form, though it provides a large size, and includes seasoned breadcrumbs to apply to the macaroni and cheese. It comes in various flavors, such as Sharp Cheddar and Bacon, Four Cheese, among other flavors. It is marketed as being a "more premium option", for those who would not eat the "Original Recipe". This version also has the prepared process cheese spread, that comes in a foil pouch. Due to the breadcrumbs topping, this form has more sodium than the "Deluxe", or "Original Recipe" forms.
- "Kraft Easy Mac", which makes single servings portions. This formulation is prepared in a microwave oven.
- A commercial version is manufactured for restaurant distribution that is a frozen, fully prepared product which is designed to be heated in a microwave. The product can be found at Burger King and Applebee's restaurants.
Kraft Dinner Smart
Kraft Dinner Smart (also known as KD Smart) is a sub-brand of the Kraft Dinner brand. It represents a line of Kraft macaroni and cheese products that contain no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives and have added ingredients like cauliflower, oats or flax seed blended into the noodles. It comes in four varieties:
Kraft Dinner Smart originally launched in Canada in March 2010 with two vegetable varieties. In June 2011, the line-up was re-launched with new packaging graphics and two new varieties (Flax Omega-3 and High Fibre).
The product is made with real Kraft cheddar and is manufactured in Mount Royal, Quebec.
The product was originally marketed as Kraft Dinner with the slogan "a meal for four in nine minutes for an everyday price of 19 cents." It was renamed to Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in the United States and other countries. In several markets it goes by different names; in the United Kingdom it is marketed as Cheesey Pasta, while in Canada it retains its original name with the nickname KD.
The product is also heavily promoted toward children in the United States on television with the promotional name Kraft Cheese & Macaroni. When advertising to younger children, the television advertisement encourages the children to ask for "The Blue Box." In 2010 Kraft launched a $50 million multi-media marketing campaign with a nostalgia theme aimed at adults to promote all varieties of Kraft dinner. In Canada, Kraft has advertising programs intended to make the meal appealing to newly arrived immigrant groups.
There are regular promotional tie-in versions of the Kraft Dinner, aimed at kids. Packages have come with pasta in the shapes of various characters popular with children, such as Looney Tunes, Super Mario Bros., Pokémon, the Rugrats, The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Toy Story, Phineas & Ferb, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Kraft Foods has also released many products under the product banner. These include other versions of macaroni and cheese with different shaped pasta and different flavors, but it has also included completely different dishes, such as spaghetti in several different flavors.
In promotion of the introduction of its "Cheddar Explosion" variety of Kraft Dinner, Kraft sponsored the demolition of Texas Stadium April 11, 2010. The New York-based public relations firm Hunter Public Relations, which has represented Kraft since 1991, acted on behalf of Kraft. In its last act of 2009 the Irving, Texas city council made Kraft Macaroni and Cheese the official sponsor of the demolition. Kraft paid $75,000 to local charities and donated $75,000 in Kraft products. A national essay contest directed at children who "have made a difference in their community" was held with the winner allowed to push the button initiating the controlled demolition. The winning essayist was 11 year old Casey Rogers of Terrell, Texas, founder of a charity serving the homeless.
Kraft Dinner has been called the de facto national dish of Canada. Canadians purchase 1.7 million of the 7 million boxes sold globally each week. They eat an average of 3.2 boxes of Kraft Dinner each year, 55% more than Americans. The meal is the most popular grocery item in the country, where "Kraft Dinner" has iconic status and has become a generic trademark of sorts for macaroni and cheese. It is often simply referred to by its initials K.D. As it carries a different name in Canada than the United States and other markets, the Canadian marketing and advertising platform is a made-in-Canada effort as US advertising cannot be easily adapted.
Pundit Rex Murphy has written that "Kraft Dinner revolves in that all-but-unobtainable orbit of the Tim Hortons doughnut and the A&W Teen Burger. It is one of that great trinity of quick digestibles that have been enrolled as genuine Canadian cultural icons."  Douglas Coupland has written that "cheese plays a weirdly large dietary role in the lives of Canadians, who have a more intimate and intense relationship with Kraft food products than the citizens of any other country. This is not a shameless product plug -- for some reason, Canadians and Kraft products have bonded the way Australians have bonded with Marmite [sic, recte:Vegemite], or the English with Heinz baked beans. In particular, Kraft macaroni and cheese, known simply as Kraft Dinner, is the biggie, probably because it so precisely laser-targets the favoured Canadian food groups: fat, sugar, starch and salt". Immigrants often mention Kraft Dinner when surveys ask for examples of Canadian food. As a measure of the product's Canadian popularity, its Facebook page, KD Battle Zone, attracted 270,000 fans, despite there being no prizes for the contest.
Former Prime Minister Paul Martin regularly referred to it as his favourite food, though also confessed that he was unable to prepare it. During the same election current Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that "I'll never be able to give my kids a billion-dollar company, but Laureen and I are saving for their education. And I have actually cooked them Kraft Dinner — I like to add wieners."
In the September 2012 issue of The Walrus magazine, the cover story "Manufacturing Taste" by Sasha Chapman details the history of the Canadian cheese industry and Kraft's impact on it. She notably draws attention to Canada being unique in favouring a manufactured food product (made by a foreign company) as its national dish at the expense of local cheeses. Chapman's article is structured around this question, from the first page:
But what does it mean if a national dish is manufactured, formulated by scientists in a laboratory in Glenview, Illinois, and sold back to us by the second-largest food company in the world?
Enriched Macaroni product (wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate [iron], thiamin mononitrate [vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B2], folic acid); cheese sauce mix (whey, milkfat, milk protein concentrate, salt, sodium tripolyphosphate, contains less than 2% of citric acid, lactic acid, sodium phosphate, calcium phosphate, yellow 5, yellow 6, enzymes, cheese culture)
Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 have been linked to certain health issues such as asthma, skin rashes, migraines, and hyperactivity in children. Kraft does not use these food colorings in the United Kingdom due to wide health concerns. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese sold in the United States includes them to make the food a brighter color. On Friday, November 1, 2013, Kraft announced that new pasta shape varieties for children in the U.S. will no longer include Yellow 5 and Yellow 6. There will also be a decrease in the sodium and saturated fat content, and six more grams of whole grains.
- "Kraft Macaroni & Cheese - Blue Box". Kraft Foods USA. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
- Chapman, Sasha (September 2012). "Manufacturing Taste". The Walrus. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
- Richer, Shawna (27 May 2010). "30-second spots: Kraft dinner, PETA and secret stitching". Globe and Mail (Toronto). Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- D.L. Stewart (8 June 2010). "Now Kraft ads are targeting adults". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
- York, Emily Bryson (17 November 2008). "Kraft Mac & Cheese: A Marketing 50 Case Study". Advertising Age. Retrieved 19 June 201.
- "Burger King's new meal: apple 'fries,' mac and cheese". The Herald (Everett, Washington). Associated Press. 1 July 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
- "Kraft Dinner Smart". Kraft Canada Inc. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
- Stuart, Elliot (May 26, 2010). "Kraft Hopes to Encourage Adults to Revert to a Childhood Favorite". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
- Homepage Hunter Public Relations
- Wendy Hundley (January 1, 2010). "Irving officials make Kraft Macaroni & Cheese official sponsor of Texas Stadium demolition". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
- Brandon Formby (March 9, 2010). "Terrell boy wins essay contest to trigger Texas Stadium implosion". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
- Teens in Canada. Kitty Shea. Compass Point Books, 2008 pg. 30
- Patrick Allossery, "Kraft hits its mark in a cheesy moment: And why Kraft's new ad campaign brings it back to form", National Post, 27 March 2000
- Haddow, Douglas (2012-09-14). "Ballast Magazine". ballastmag.ca. Retrieved 2012-09-23.
- Shaw, Hollie (23 March 2012). "Catering to the Kraft Dinner Cult". Financial Post. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
- Canada and Other Matters of Opinion. Rex Murphy. Random House of Canada, 2010 pg. 157
- Souvenir of Canada, Volume 1. Douglas Coupland. Douglas & McIntyre, 2004
- Profile of Paul Martin for The National. CBC.ca June 2004.
- "Kraft Dinner can’t dispute that Canadians associate it with cheap eats" Yahoo News. Thu, 21 Apr, 2011
- CNN http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/01/health/kraft-macaroni-cheese-dyes/index.html?hpt=hp_t2
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- Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner Facebook
- Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner Kids' page
- Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner at Kraft's official site
- KraftCanada Kraft Dinner
- Guide to Macaroni and Cheese Spread of ratings for all 130 products in Macaroni and Cheese evaluated by GoodGuide.
- Kraft Chinese Cooking - Kraft Canada
- "Labels and Other “Krafty” Stuff"
- CBC Television Archives Talking about Kraft Dinner (Canadian context) 1997