Powdered processed cheese packet
"Original Cheese Sauce Mix"
|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.
Source: Kraft Foods USA
The product known as Kraft macaroni & cheese dinner or Kraft mac and cheese in the United States and Australia, Kraft Dinner in Canada, and Macaroni Cheese or Cheesey Pasta in the United Kingdom, is a nonperishable, packaged dry macaroni and cheese product. It was first introduced in the U.S. in 1937 by National Dairy, the company now known as Kraft Foods. It developed into several other formulations, including Easy Mac, a single-serving product designed specifically for microwave ovens.
The product's innovation was to combine the nonperishable dried macaroni noodles with a processed cheese powder, so that the dish could be prepared by cooking the pasta and adding the cheese powder, butter, and milk. The resulting mac & cheese glowed a uniquely unnatural orange color, but by 2016 all artificial food coloring was removed.
The prerequisite to a packaged macaroni and cheese product was the invention of "processed" cheeses, where emulsifying salts help stabilize the product, giving it a longer life. James Lewis Kraft, originally of Fort Erie, Ontario, but living in Chicago, did not invent processed cheese, but he won a patent for one processing method in 1916 and began to build his cheese business.
During the Great Depression, a St. Louis, Missouri salesman had the idea to sell macaroni pasta and cheese together as a package, so he 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 flavours and pasta shapes have been introduced over the decades and the shelf life has at various times been increased. Kraft Dinner is seen as an inexpensive, easy-to-make comfort food, with marketing that highlights 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 flavours, such as Sharp Cheddar and Bacon, Four Cheese, among other flavours. 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 serving 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.
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, Spider-Man, Rugrats, The Fairly OddParents, The Flintstones, Peanuts Scooby-Doo, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon, Toy Story, Phineas and Ferb, Cars, Monsters University, Finding Dory, SpongeBob SquarePants, Minions, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Star Wars. 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 flavours, but it has also included completely different dishes, such as spaghetti in several different flavours.
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. Packaged in Quebec with Canadian wheat and milk, and other ingredients from Canada and the US, Canadians purchase 1.7 million of the 7 million boxes sold globally each week and 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 the initials K.D. As Kraft Dinner has a different name in Canada from 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 wrote 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 wrote 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 former 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." Most of his countrymen ignore the instructions and believe that they have a unique way of preparing the food, like adding wieners or cheese. Additional ingredients are not necessary; simply adjusting the cooking time and the amount of milk or butter/margarine can produce a dish ranging from soft noodles in a creamy sauce to firm noodles in a thin, milky sauce.
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?
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, with added hot dog and fresh tomato
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)
Artificial color phaseout
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese sold in the United States used to include Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 to make the food a brighter colour. In Europe, food that contains Yellow 5 requires a warning label saying, "This product may have adverse effect on activity and attention in children." In 2014, none of the European varieties were made with artificial dyes.
On November 1, 2013, Kraft announced that new pasta shape varieties for children in the U.S. would no longer include Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, and there would be a decrease in the sodium and saturated fat content, and six more grams of whole grains.
In April 2015, it was announced that those healthy changes, including the elimination of artificial preservatives, would be extended throughout the line after January 2016. Paprika, annatto and turmeric are used for colouring. According to Kraft, the changes were a response to consumer feedback.
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- "Kraft Macaroni & Cheese". Facebook. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- 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.
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- 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.
- Young, Leslie (2015-06-10). "Deconstructing a Canadian classic: tracking the origins of Kraft Dinner". Global News. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
- 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
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- "Kraft Mac & Cheese Is Nutritionally Equivalent to Cheez-Its". Mother Jones. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
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- Wilson, Jacque (November 4, 2013). "Kraft removing artificial dyes from some mac and cheese". CNN.
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- Paul Harris. "Kraft Macaroni & Cheese chemical additives targeted by food bloggers". the Guardian. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- "Kraft to Drop Preservatives From Its Macaroni and Cheese". The New York Times. Reuters. April 20, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
- "FAQs". kraftmacandcheese.com. Kraft Foods. Retrieved April 28, 2015.
You told us you wanted to incorporate more foods with protein, calcium and whole grains into your diets and with no artificial flavors, preservatives or synthetic colors
- Kraft Macaroni and Cheese on 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