Words and Photos by Allison Burton
We all remember coming home from school and devouring a big helping of Kraft Mac and Cheese when we were little. I am no exception. Truth be told, I still have not grown out of this childhood favorite. I still make it for myself because, well, it’s amazing. When I purchase a Kraft dinner, I usually get the original box because it’s what I’ve always grew up eating. Recently, however, I was exposed to the three cheese shells box while eating with a friend. I was pleasantly surprised with how good it was. I personally liked it better than the original. I started to wonder what other Kraft flavors I was missing out on and I decided there was only one way to find out. In order to truly end the debate of which flavor is best and which flavor I should be buying, I knew I had to try them all simultaneously.
Thus, my investigation was launched. I bought five flavors to compare: Original, Thick N’ Creamy, Three Cheese, Spirals, and White Cheddar.
I also got together a team of four taste testers so I could get some other voices to help judge and compare each flavor. All products were made using butter and 1% milk.
Probably the most well known flavor, the Original is a classic. Overall, it was good as it wasn’t too creamy or too strong. It was just right. Is it the best, though? I wouldn’t say so. My team and I found the original to be a little powdery.
Thick N’ Creamy
The first aspect of the Thick N' Creamy that catches your eye is the distinct elbow-shaped pasta. No other flavors use this type of noodle, and it definitely made the Thick N' Creamy the most aesthetically pleasing and true to a typical macaroni and cheese dish. This flavor rightfully earns its name as my team and I concluded that it has the thickest texture of all the other flavors.
My team was not a fan of the Thick N' Creamy. The richness of the sauce was overpowering and too much to handle for them. Personally, though, I liked the richness of the sauce. However, I would not be able to finish a whole bowl of it and would enjoy it much more if it was to be shared. If you like your pasta extra cheesy and creamy, this Kraft flavor would be the one for you.
The Three Cheese Shells is also another classic flavor and has always been a favorite for me. The uniquely-shaped pasta adds to the eating experience and traps the sauces in the little pouches. The taste is slightly different from the original. It is cheesier but less powdery than the original.
The Spirals were my least favorite. The shape may be intriguing at first, but once it is cooked, “it looks like rice pilaf,” claimed one of my tasters. I couldn’t agree more with that description. The supposedly “spiral noodles,” mixed with the cheese, became a thick, gooey glob. The noodles were also very mushy and were in awkwardly short lengths. The cheese was extremely powdery, concentrated, and was overall unsatisfying.
White Cheddar was definitely an underdog. First of all, this flavor is hard to come by. It took me two runs at a supermarket to buy this flavor. The White Cheddar has the same type of noodles as the original, but it has a more subtle taste and is less powdery. It is an upgrade from the Original in terms of taste and presentation.
To my surprise, White Cheddar was the unanimous favorite amongst my taste testers. It tasted the least artificial and heavy. In second place was the Original. Although the texture was slightly powdery, the Original is still a staple of Kraft foods and is a fool-proof option for a quick dinner. Coming in third place was the Three Cheese. It was my favorite, but I know it isn’t for everyone. In fourth place was the Thick N' Creamy. This box created the most aesthetically pleasing final product, but in terms of its taste it did not live up to par. In the last place are the Spirals. It was disappointing, as the odd shape of the noodles resulted in a thick, artificial blob of cheese. It resembled nothing like a macaroni and cheese dish, both in taste and presentation. Well, there you have it folks. Next time you find yourself craving a childhood favorite, go for the White Cheddar. And if not, you can never go wrong with the classic Original flavor!