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Mac 'n' Cheese, Please

Check out the stats behind this favorite cheesy pasta dish

Nothing says comfort food like a warm bowl of mac ’n’ cheese. Whether you prefer yours made from a box or homemade, you can thank Thomas Jefferson for bringing the classic dish to colonial America.

This Founding Father did more than just write the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson worked in France from 1785 to 1789. While there, he tried many “exotic” foods—including french-fried potatoes, Parmesan cheese, and mac ’n’ cheese. 

Jefferson brought his favorites back to America. As president, he even put mac ’n’ cheese on the menu at a state dinner in 1802!

But mac ’n’ cheese didn’t become a crowd-pleaser overnight. In 1929, more than 100 years after Jefferson served the dish, the Great Depression hit the United States. Many people lost their jobs and ran short on food. 

Food makers scrambled to produce quick, cheap meals. In 1937, Kraft Foods introduced boxed mac ’n’ cheese. Priced at 19 cents (the equivalent of $3.36 today), a box could feed a family of four. The rest, as they say, is history!

Continue the Learning Journey
Cooking Science

Watch a video about the science behind cooking.

After watching the video, choose a recipe for one of your favorite foods or meals. Then make the recipe with an adult in your family, or talk about it with a friend. Why is that food special to you? Discuss what changes you think will happen as you add different ingredients, change temperatures, use kitchen tools, and more.

Fraction Pizza

Follow these fun steps to learn about fractions.

Look at the ingredients in the “Making Mac ’n’ Cheese” recipe above. What do you notice about the amounts? Many recipes use fraction measurements. Check out the slideshow above to learn about fractions by making your own “pizza.” You will need a ruler, a pencil, a paper plate, and your imagination!

Food Facts

Practice comparing nutrition labels to survive an onslaught of hungry zombies.

After you play the game, look at a nutrition label on a food package of your choice. This label will tell you what nutrients are found in the food. Read the ingredients list and the nutrition facts. Determine a grade (A to F) you would give the product based on how nutritious it is. Here are some questions to think about when grading your food:

  • Which ingredients are nutritious? 
  • Is there too much of one ingredient?
  • Do you think this item is healthy? Why or why not?

Look at the “Mac ‘n’ Cheese: A History” timeline above. A timeline provides key events in the history of someone or something in chronological, or time order. Create a timeline of your life by listing at least five events. Talk with a family member about the first years of your life. What key events took place? Did your family move? Did you receive a special toy? Remember to title your timeline and add a drawing or photo for each event! Then share your timeline with a friend and encourage him or her to make one too. That way, you’ll learn things you didn’t know about each other!

This article was written by Jeanette Ferrara for Scholastic DynaMath magazine.

Image Credits: Fuse/Getty Images (girl); iStockPhoto/Getty Images (pasta); THE KRAFT IMAGES AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ARE OWNED BY KRAFT FOODS GROUP BRANDS LLC USED AND ARE USED WITH PERMISSION (Easy Mac); Illustrations by Tim Bradford (illustrations); iStockPhoto/Getty Images (cheeses)