Itís great as a side dish, and serves well as a light dinner or a satisfying lunch. Itís a food that kids from 2 through 102 can sink their gums or teeth into. Besides having a high likeability factor, this comfort food and American staple has an interesting history that reveals a patriotic past.
It is said that macaroni, a curved, tubular pasta made from flour that had its origins in China and was brought to Italy by Marco Polo, has been cooked and served with cheese in Italian homes, inns and restaurants for over 500 years. By the eighteenth century, the dish, in one form or another, had become popular throughout Europe, and colonists from England brought along their appetite and recipes for this cheesy treat to North America. In the 1800s, recipes for various versions of macaroni and cheese appeared in many American cookbooks. And so, a legend was born.
As times changed and women began to look for life beyond the confines of the kitchen, convenience foods were introduced into the marketplace. Since macaroni and cheese had already achieved status as a family favorite, Kraft decided the time was right to introduce a dinner in a box and called it Kraft Dinner. In 1937, Kraft macaroni and cheese hit the grocery shelves in the U.S. and Canada, and soon it became a huge success.
The product got a big boost with the start of World War II. As part of the war effort on the home front, rationing went into effect. Meat was at a premium. Fresh milk and dairy products were in short supply. And since millions of men were away from home and serving in the armed forces, many women joined the workforce. After a hard day or night at work, the Rosie the Riveters really appreciated the ease and speed of a ready-to-prepare macaroni and cheese dinner. The fact that it had the reputation for being a nutritious alternative to a meat dish also helped in making it a best seller.
Since then, dozens of variations of this iconic dish have been created. But the basic macaroni and cheese attraction still prevails.