No matter how complex or simple meals are, they will always have a fascinating history behind them. This applies to the peculiar rise in popularity of pizza in Italy or gyro’s immigration story in America. One of the many staples in American households is the unmistakable combination of cheese and macaroni, commonly known as mac and cheese. Although it can seem like a simple meal to untrained cooks, it has rich potential in flavor and cultural impact.
Mac and cheese throughout the years
Mac and cheese is a timeless American classic that’s passed down for middle schoolers to enjoy until they reach their adult years. Although it’s more well-known as a ready-to-eat-meal, This simple and nostalgic dish has a long and colorful history. Because of this, it has a lot of eventful influences on American culture.
In this article, we’ll share five surprising facts about mac and cheese to enrich your knowledge on the dairy and pasta dish.
1. Mac and cheese has very old roots
Some people think that mac and cheese is the product of the popularity of ready-made food, together with the likes of TV dinners and microwave pizza. In reality, mac and cheese was a medieval recipe that was popular in the 14th century. King Richard II’s chefs included it in their text of recipes known as the “Forme of Cury,” or method of cookery. One dish labeled as “makerouns” has a surprisingly similar blueprint to the mac and cheese products we eat today. This makes our ancestors ahead of us in tasting this cheese and noodle treat.
2. Thomas Jefferson loved to eat mac and cheese
The Declaration of Independence’s principal author had a bit of a soft spot for mac and cheese. He loved the pasta and cheese dish so much that he had a pasta machine ordered from Europe to his estate. The story goes that his enslaved chef, James Hemmings, learned the recipe and prepared it for him. Before Jefferson ever heard of the dish, it was a popular celebration food for African Americans in the Antebellum South.
3. Modern mac started from a cheese-selling business
The popularity of modern-day mac and cheese comes from James L. Kraft’s humble cheese-selling business in 1903. Eventually, his company, Kraft Foods, would introduce a revolutionary product of pasta that came with powdered cheese in 1914. It would soon become a favorite for struggling households due to its affordable price of 19 cents during the Great Depression in 1938, with 8 million boxes sold that year alone.
4. There’s plenty of mac and cheese recipe contests and festivals across America
If you’re an aspiring chef with your own take on the simple mac and cheese formula, you can attend many festivals in Philadelphia, Texas, Kentucky, and more. These occasions display a wide selection of unique recipes from locals while also hosting recipe contests. The St. Louis Annual Mac & Cheese Throwdown is one of the most anticipated events in the area.
5. Mac and Cheese has its own holiday
The official mac and cheese holiday is July 14, dubbed the National Macaroni and Cheese day. Although its roots are relatively unknown, everyone can still appreciate a good plate of mac and cheese, even without eating it during the holiday itself.
The simplicity of the mac and cheese recipe makes it capable of developing versatile iterations that can be ready-made from your microwave or served at a gourmet restaurant. There are even mac and cheese recipes that don’t contain dairy at all for vegan enthusiasts. This just goes to show that the straightforward nature of the dish is a cunning trick that hides its potential greatness.
Contrary to popular belief, mac and cheese isn’t a simple enough dish to call “junk food.” In fact, our special recipe combines asiago parmesan and cotija cheese with your choice of pulled pork or candied bacon. If you want to try out our house-blend mac and cheese in Phoenix, order from our selection of healthy meals today!