Is there a crowd-pleasing comfort dish more beloved than macaroni and cheese? Out of the microwave, off the stove top, or pulled bubbling from the oven, both kids and adults can be found eagerly digging their forks into bowls of cheese-covered noodles.
In fact, during any given twelve-week period, around one-third of the population in the US will eat macaroni and cheese at least once, and that number jumps up to half when narrowed down to just children.
So when did we start eating macaroni and cheese?
Some accounts have it that the dish had its American debut as a casserole at New England church suppers, while other versions credit Thomas Jefferson himself with bringing macaroni and cheese back with him after a trip to Italy. In truth, he did bring back a pasta machine and was very fond of the dish, but macaroni and cheese probably existed stateside before he increased its reputation by classifying it a presidential favorite.
However it got here, macaroni and cheese is here to stay. Crayola named a crayon after the cheesy dish in 1993, and you can celebrate Macaroni and Cheese day with (what else) a big bowl of your favorite variety each year on July 14th.
Our favorite version is made with lots of extra sharp Vermont cheddar, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a crispy topping made from Japanese Panko breadcrumbs. You can find Panko-style breadcrumbs next to the regular packaged breadcrumbs in the supermarket.
Happy macaroni and cheese eating!
This post was first published in 2011 and has been updated.