Mac and Cheese of the North Shore

Mac and Cheese of the North Shore

Amelia Krause, Student

Mac and Cheese is a portion of popular comfort food in today’s day and age. There are hundreds of ways to make it, store-bought brands, and different restaurants. But the question remains: which Mac and Cheese is the best? For the past few years, I have grown a love for Mac and Cheese, between the vast range of cheeses, many ways to cook it, and numerous kinds of pasta, the possibilities are endless. 


For this article, the three main store-bought brands I focused on were Annies, Kraft, and Cracker Barrel boxed mac and cheese. These three brands ranked among the top when I surveyed Ipswich High School Students. Kraft Velveeta did not earn a single vote. Kraft is the oldest standing mac and cheese, created during World War II (where they sold 50 million boxes) as “a family dinner that is simple-to-prepare, affordable, and meatless.” It was and still is cheap and easy for customers because the cheese is shelf-stable and the only other ingredients needed are milk and butter. Kraft is often thought of as the classic mac and cheese. Sophomore Estelle Krause says, “I remember loving Kraft when I was a kid, but now, as I get older, the taste becomes less preferable, and I find myself leaning towards other brands.” While making an effort to become more healthy, Kraft has switched over to no artificial preservatives, dyes, or flavors. However, Kraft still has 350 calories per 1 cup serving of the prepared pasta. This is the highest caloric rating for any of the store-bought brands I am reviewing today. 

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Coming in at the second most popular store-bought brand we have Cracker Barrel. Many people when they hear Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese think of the country store, but the Cracker Barrel Cheese brand makes their own mac and cheese that is much different than the country store. Cracker Barrel does happen to be Estelle Krauses’ favorite brand of mac and cheese. She says, “I love how creamy it is, and the cheese has much more flavor.” Cracker Barrel started in 1954, under Kraft Foods. It is interesting that on the box, there is no relation back to Kraft Foods, and the mac and cheese from each respective brand tastes much different. This mac and cheese does not require anything outside of the box, you simply boil the pasta then squeeze in the premade cheese. Estelle says, “When people hear this, they are often grossed out and think of it like Velveeta. I did too the first time, but then I realized it was so different.” The Cracker Barrel mac and cheese is often in high demand at Market Basket in Rowley; sometimes it isn’t even on the shelves. Cracker Barrel does lose to Annie’s in the sense of caloric intake. 1 cup of prepared Cracker Barrel will set you back 320 calories. 

Image result for cracker barrel sharp white cheddar mac and cheese

Annie’s Homegrown or better known as just Annie’s comes in at the top ranking. This mac and cheese was created in 1989 by Annie Withey herself when she wanted a healthier solution to the more commonly known Kraft. Estelle says, “Annie’s is almost always the only brand in my house because my mom is really organic and buys only healthy things.” Annie’s is what a lot of kids, including myself have grown up on. It is a classic. The mac and cheese is made just as Krafts is, adding butter and milk to the prepackaged shelf-stable cheese. This mac and cheese tends to be more flavorful and has a “homey” taste to it. It is the healthiest, aside from being organic and GMO-free, 1 prepared cup of mac and cheese is only 270 calories.

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For the restaurants, it was hard to find a definite top scorer. Some of the places coming it at high rankings are: The Coastal Green Grocer, Buffalo Wild Wings, Tony C’s, The Spot, and Brick and Ash. I have been to all of these and my personal favorites from the list are the Spot, Brick and Ash, and Tony C’s; this is because they have that traditional homemade feel, with breadcrumb topping, and multiple kinds of cheese. Estelle’s favorite is Tony C’s because of “the pasta they use allows for the cheese to stick to the noodles. It is so unique, it is just delicious.” The Coastal Green Grocer is a hard to come by experience because the mac and cheese is only served on Fridays and Saturdays. It is a good mac, but I personally feel that the cheese is missing something. Buffalo Wild Wings has a pretty bland mac in my personal opinion; however, it is a nice side when having wings. I just do not think I would go there specifically for the mac and cheese. 

Mac and cheese is a popular American Classic. Many people love it; few hate it. The Washington Post ranks Kraft as one of the worst mac and cheeses. It ranks Cracker Barrel and Annie’s at the top. Overall, my personal favorite is Cracker Barrel, second favorite is Annie’s, and least favorite is Kraft. My favorite restaurant mac and cheese is The Spot, in Georgetown, Mass. I would highly recommend everyone stepping out of their comfort zone and trying a new brand or restaurant mentioned in this article; you will not be disappointed.