From the iconic blue box to homemade creamy goodness, mac and cheese is always popular. The annual National Macaroni and Cheese Day is a perfect excuse to enjoy the classic dish.
While young and old crave macaroni and cheese, no one knows the exact origin of this dish. According to the Smithsonian, historians believe that the dish dates back to 1700s Northern Europe. It is believed that Thomas Jefferson introduced the pasta and creamy, cheese sauce dish to the United States after his time in France. Over time, this dish has become extremely popular.
The traditional way to make mac and cheese is with a bechamel sauce. One of the mother sauces, it is a white sauce. Basically, it is made with flour, butter and milk. Using that sauce as a base, cheese is added to create more of a mouray sauce. Later pasta is incorporated and the whole mixture is baked.
National Macaroni and Cheese Day, I Love Mac and Cheese, photo provided by Eclipse Agencuy
But, the traditional recipe can be difficult and costly for some. When the U.S. was financially struggling, Kraft introduced the iconic boxed version. Launched in 1937, the first boxes of Kraft Foods macaroni and cheese sold for less than 40 cents. Today, that blue box is a staple for families, college kids and late night food cravings.
More recently, restaurants and chefs sought to elevate the classic dish. For years, the lobster mac and cheese was a popular menu item. Now, bacon or pork belly is a more common ingredient. Some people have even tried to make healthier versions with vegetables pureed into the sauce.
Macaroni and cheese will always be part of the culinary scene. From a quick and easy version to an elevated one, this favorite dish isn’t going away. I’m willing to bet that at least half of family households have served some version of mac and cheese this week.
Mac and Cheese with pulled pork, photo by Cristine Struble
With all the storied history behind this classic dish, it is expected that there is a national holiday celebrating the dish. For those who haven’t served their weekly macaroni and cheese dinner, you have a few options. You could break out grandma’s recipe, which probably involved the traditional béchamel and baking in the oven. The classic Kraft in the blue box is super easy. Another easy, yet flavorful choice is Cracker Barrel Cheese oven baked macaroni and cheese. It simplifies the roux and offers a rich and creamy sauce.
If you would rather dine out for the food holiday, a few restaurants will be celebrating too. For Floridians, I Heart Mac and Cheese is a great place to satisfy your craving. The restaurant offers fully customizable mac and cheese. Simply pick your favorite style or flavor. In honor of the food holiday, the I Heart Mac and Cheese will be raffling a free year’s worth of mac and cheese. Nationally, Noodles and Company will give guests a free small bowl of macaroni and cheese with purchase.
Grab a fork, bowl or plate and dig into a big cheesy bowl of macaroni and cheese for National Macaroni and Cheese Day. Remember, there’s no calories associated with food holidays.
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