Comfort Food For Thought

If you read my post last week, you know I was a little distressed over the recent shootings in my country.  Blogging was intended to bring me a comfort in troubled times.  In hindsight, maybe I was overthinking the situation.  Maybe all I needed was comfort food.  Enter Chick-fil-A.  The popular fast-food chicken restaurant may never be forgiven for removing their awesome coleslaw from the “Sides” menu a few years back, but just this week they brought a new guest to the party.  Hello, macaroni and cheese.

Amanda Norris is Chick-fil-A’s executive director of menu and packaging.  She’s now my new best friend.  A chicken sandwich and waffle fries, with a second side of mac & cheese?  Heaven in a to-go bag, my friends.  As Amanda puts it, “Mac & cheese is the quintessential comfort food… the perfect pairing… but it’s also great on its own as a snack”.  In other words, I’ve just been given permission to drive-thru Chick-fil-A and order only mac & cheese.  I’m a kid again!

Chick-fil-A’s mac & cheese

Chick-fil-A’s mac & cheese is made with a special blend of cheddar, Parmesan, and Romano, and baked fresh every day. Uh, push the pause button here.  Three cheeses sounds a little fancy for the mac & cheese I had in mind.  If the restaurant really wanted to arrow the bullseye, they should’ve done a deal with Kraft Foods and offered the mac & cheese.  You know the one – the proud little blue-and-gold box of the “cheesiest”, with the pile of pasta curls and pouch of powdered who-knows-what?  There’s simply no equal.

Kraft introduced its “Macaroni & Cheese Dinner” in 1937 with the slogan, “Make a meal for four in nine minutes”.  Back then – the Depression years – you could buy two boxes of Kraft for a single food-rationing stamp (Make a meal for eight…!)  Fast-forward to the 1980’s, when my wife and I were managing our shoestring food budget.  At least we knew we could buy Kraft mac & cheese.  Three boxes for a dollar!

Three-cheese blend aside, I agree with Chick-fil-A.  Mac & cheese is the quintessential comfort food.  Comfort food is defined as “… providing a nostalgic or sentimental value to someone”, and “…tends to be high in calories, high in carbs, and easy to prepare”.  Well hey, you might as well just say, “Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner”!  Sure, you could turn to other comfort foods on Wikipedia’s short-list, like chicken soup, chocolate-chip cookies or grilled cheese (Tater Tots and sugary breakfast cereals didn’t make the list – for shame!), but take my money – and give me comfort – Kraft mac & cheese earns the top spot.  Just ask any Canadian; it’s the most-purchased grocery item in the country.

Recently, mac & cheese sits side-by-side with Brussels sprouts as a trendy restaurant offering, even in the fancy places.  The problem is in the spin – all those added ingredients for a supposedly better taste.  Lobster mac & cheese.  Mac & cheese pizza (topped with shredded Colby-Jack).  Mac & cheese pie (with a bready crust).  Even Kraft messed with the Original (“Star Wars-shaped” pasta?  Come on!).  Admittedly, their “Shells & Cheese Dinner” with the Velveeta cheese sauce is a pretty good option.  But it’s not the Original.

Comfort foods are further defined as “… food associated with the security of childhood. They are believed to be a great coping mechanism for rapidly soothing negative feelings.”  There it is, and that’s what I need right now.  The couple of Kraft boxes in my pantry are calling me home.

Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”, and the foxnews.com article, “Chick-fil-A’s Mac and Cheese Hits Menus Nationwide”.

Author: Dave

Three hundred posts would suggest I have something to say… This blog was born from a desire to elevate the English language, highlighting eloquent words from days gone by. The stories I share are snippets of life itself, and each comes with a bonus: a dusted-off word I hope you’ll go on to use more often. Read “Deutschland-ish Improvements” to learn about my backyard European wish list. Try “Slush Fun” for the throwback years of the 7-Eleven convenience store. Or drink in "Iced Coffee" to discover the plight of the rural French cafe. On the lighter side, read "Late Night Racquet Sports" for my adventures with our latest moth invasion. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Here then, my verse. Welcome to "Life In A Word".

4 thoughts on “Comfort Food For Thought”

  1. Even in my poorest student days, this Canadian did not resort to eating Kraft mac and cheese, although my room-mates did. I did not realize it had been around that long, since the Depression. I think of it as a 50’s convenience food, like toaster strudel. Nothing beats homemade mac & cheese, made in the oven with mild cheddar and toasted bread crumbs on top, and my mother’s is the best. It spoiled me forever…..although I do think Stouffer’s TV dinner mac and cheese is the best of the frozen variety. I hope you are feeling better Dave.

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    1. Ah, another childhood staple Joni – Stouffers mac & cheese. My mother would buy it on occasion and I’m sure it was my “first”, well before Kraft. As for student days, I didn’t eat Kraft either. Store brands were even cheaper. Whatever fills the stomach when you’re on a tight budget, right?

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