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Is that right? Kraft mac & cheese for grownups

Kraft recently decided to convince adults that they need more of its signature macaroni and cheese in their lives.

The company's new "You Know You Love It" Web site and ad campaign aim to remind grownups how much they love "gooey, creamy, delicious" mac and cheese, urging us to "Outgrow outgrowing it."

But gooey deliciousness aside, is reverting to Kraft dinner really such a smart thing to do?

Let's take a look at the Family Dinner package of mac & cheese -- the one whose box says this M&C has "double the calcium of other macaroni and cheese dinners."

Well, those other dinners must be pathetic. Before you add milk, Kraft's dinner provides just 10 percent of the DV for calcium. Adding milk brings that to a whopping 15 percent. For perspective, to qualify as an "excellent" source of a nutrient, the USDA requires a food to provide 20 percent or more of the DV for that nutrient. That 10-to-15 percent only ranks a "good" source designation -- which is, in USDA terms, on par with "contains" and "provides."

Okay, so I'm not wowed by the calcium content. But in fairness, there is some calcium in there, along with protein and other nutrients such as iron, thiamin, riboflavin and folic acid.

But weigh their presence against the 400 calories, 29 percent of the DV for total fat and 23 percent of the DV for saturated fat and 580 milligrams of sodium (30 percent of the DV) you get in a serving (prepared with margarine and 2-percent reduced fat milk, as per the package directions).

And bear in mind that a "serving" equals one cup.

Who has ever eaten just a cup of mac & cheese? (Go ahead; measure it out. I'll wait.) Even the TV commercial shows a lot more than that being spooned out as a serving.

Yes, I know lots of people find Kraft mac & cheese yummy. But if you're going to indulge, try to do so like a grownup, with your eyes wide open.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  June 4, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Is That Right? , Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity  
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Back in the day (college), I'd eat an entire box by myself. Now?? OMG, the fat, carbs and sodium would kill me and I'd gain 5 lbs. No, thanks.

Posted by: queenb3 | June 4, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

This kind of article gets written about mac & cheese because it's a "slum" food, something that blacks and poor whites eat. You'd never see the Post write an article about the poor nutrition of some of the foods eaten by the liberal elites at their favorite restaurants.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | June 4, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

While Kraft is just the lastest consumer packaged food maker to attempt to invigorate a "mature" brand with a tagline they researched (I assume they did) to appeal to another segment (older former users), IF I want macaroni & cheese - I'll make it myself! I mean how hard is it really? Boil some noodles, add a roux, some milk & cheese. Virtually no more effort than working with Kraft's mystery powder.

As for the nutritional content of either KM&C or scratch M&C - first, yes serving sizes can be deceiving - anybody concerned with health & nutrition knows that and second, I find writing on servings to DV a bit overly dramatic. It seems more for effect - as in "look how bad that is for you." Afterall we eat multiple meals a day.

As for Krafts "You know you love it" - HA! no I don't. How about making a better product. KM&C is a relic from another time.

Posted by: notamullethead | June 4, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Nice try, Kraft. I still do love the stuff in the blue box. However as my spouse and I are both lactose intolerant, he is on a reduced sodium diet for his blood pressure and I have high cholesterol and a medication which can react poorly with statins, which means diet for me, Kraft won't be selling us any unless the grandchildren are visiting. And one of them prefers his pasta with Vermont white cheddar.

Posted by: abbyandmollycats | June 4, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"You'd never see the Post write an article about the poor nutrition of some of the foods eaten by the liberal elites at their favorite restaurants"

Are you kidding me WashingtonDame? Were you here a few posts back when this very blog posted info that trashed California Pizza Kitchen Tostada Pizza with Grilled Steak? (Can we agree that name is pretentious enough to qualify as food eaten by those you term "elites"?)I suppose we could talk about higher quality restaurants, but aside from high fat and salt, those dishes likely contain fresh real ingredients that might undermine your point.

Is it even possible for you to read a nutrition blog without seeing a liberal conspiracy? You should get that checked.

Posted by: Fizziks | June 4, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

It's borderline criminal that companies continue to put health claims on products that are nothing but fat and empty calories.

It's like saying that a cup of melted butter is "a good source of Vitamin A, and with 0% trans-fats!"

Posted by: kcx7 | June 4, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

It's funny--when I was a kid, I hated mac and cheese. I thought it had no flavor. Now, I could easily eat two pounds in one sitting. Hmmm...cheesy goodness!

Posted by: nuzuw | June 4, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

While I totally advocate (and practice) cooking from scratch for every meal with rare exceptions, I have found that some organic or natural brands make "instant" mac&cheese that has more fiber, less fat, and no artificial ingredients. What really bothers me about so many of these discussions of processed food is that the elements of artificial additives and preservatives gets totally left out of the equation. These are worse than whatever refined flour and sugar might be in processed foods--most of them haven't even been tested thoroughly enough for us to understand their long-term effects on our bodies.

Posted by: GrainofSalt1 | June 4, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I consider myself an epicure and buy produce from the farmers market and all those things, but I still eat kraft dinner about once a month-the whole box!! with freshly cracked pepper, thank you.

The idea of attaching a health claim to neon orange powder is ridiculous, but hey- it's quick, easy and full of those seratonin-producing carbs. Yum.

Posted by: cew5x | June 4, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

This rant is cheesy on so many levels...Go ahead, buy the house and get a new car. This is what you'll be eating to pay for it all!

Posted by: JimB20009 | June 4, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

A serving is 2.5 oz. (by weight), dry and uncooked. Prepared, 1 cup (by volume), 47 g. total carbohydrates (3 carb choices).

As a diabetic, that's 3/4 of my quota of carb choices for an entire meal.

It's basically the same as any other pasta: most commercial brands list servings of 2 oz. dry, about 42 g. of carbohydrates, per serving. Sauce (tomato or cheese) is extra.

As an occasional treat, Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese (or any other mac 'n' cheese) is no better or worse than another pasta dish.

Posted by: rlguenther | June 4, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Eww... Give me Velveeta Mac&Cheese w/ the little broccoli packets!!! :)

Posted by: sigmagrrl | June 4, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

It takes a few more minuets in preparation and and hour in the oven to create macaroni
with real NY aged sharp Cheddar with tons of onions and baked to be cheesy in the center with crispy parts on top.

Why would anyone eat that orange crud out of the box when you can spend just a few more minuets and have heaven on a plate is beyond me.

Posted by: PennyWisetheClown | June 5, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Penny- agreed, the homemade kind hardly takes any work (especially if you buy your cheese already shredded). If you are in a hurry, you can even cook up your roux and melt your cheese in the microwave and just stir it into the cooked pasta, though it doesn't taste near as good as doing it the old-fashioned way. But it doesn't take any longer than using the boxed kind, and you aren't stuck eating something with day-glo orange sauce on it. I have bought my kids boxed mac n cheese on a few occasions (as back-up dinners when I'm in a hurry), and they won't eat it- it just doesn't taste good.

Posted by: floof | June 7, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Everyone loves Kraft Macaroni and Cheese; it's an iconic American food that always has a home in any pantry, whether of a college student or an expat living overseas. Now, if Kraft could only make they're box truly big enough for a family of four, because you're right, who eats just one cup of it?

Posted by: AngelicaB12 | June 7, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I think it should be made illegal, along with soda, candy, and any food that contains animal ingredients.

Posted by: David90 | June 9, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

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