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There’s something very comforting about a bowl of mac and cheese. The creamy, velvety goodness of cheese slathered on pasta noodles has been a mainstay of American cuisine for centuries. But how did Kraft’s version become synonymous with mac and cheese? Read on for the interesting history of this dish and how a war helped popularize it.

A presidential affair

U.S. President Thomas Jefferson became enamored of mac and cheese during a trip to France. He loved the pasta dish so much that he brought recipes and a pasta maker back from France, hoping to enjoy a taste when he was back home in the White House.

President Jefferson’s love of mac and cheese eventually led to the serving of the dish at an official state dinner.

World War II rationing

Still recovering from the Great Depression and entering the World War II, Americans had to tighten their belts and make sacrifices for their country’s war effort. With so many soldiers overseas fighting, supplies back home were being rationed. Food, fuel, and other necessities were in limited supply.

Mac and cheese was the perfect answer for families trying to sustain themselves. For less than a quarter, a box of Kraft Mac N Cheese could feed a family of four. It was quick, easy, and cheap, and the company sold over eight million boxes in a year.

Reinventing a classic

Today, Kraft Mac N Cheese is a standard meal of college students everywhere. It’s convenient and inexpensive for those on a budget, and it’s also a comfort food for so many who’ve grown up with it as kids.

Chefs are rediscovering and reinterpreting the classic mac-and-cheese meal. Whether it’s using different types of cheeses or adding non-traditional ingredients like bacon or salsa, mac and cheese will always be an American staple.