Along with my husband and another couple, we performed a highly scientific taste-test of 3 varieties of Kraft Dinner a couple of weeks ago. This sprang up from said husband and I coming upon the new cauliflower KD in the grocery store and wanting to find out if there was any difference between that and the regular stuff. Like most things, we just had to take it that little bit further and involve other fun people who lack sanity in equal amounts.
The method: We cooked all of the macaroni at the same time so that everything would be at a similar temperature when served. We used butter in all three batches (this was no time for calorie-counting). We did not salt the water, nor add any external foodstuffs to the cooked pasta. This was KD in its purest form. Varieties used were Original, Spirals and KD Smart (with cauliflower: “A ½ serving of vegetables!”)
The madness: The three kinds we tried all tasted surprisingly different! I’ll admit that going into this, I was convinced that they would all taste extremely similar, if not identical.
The KD Smart smelled an awful lot like cauliflower when it was cooked, and did indeed taste quite a bit like boiled vegetables. I was surprised at this because comparing the nutritional information, the Smart and the Original eerily similar. In fact, the Smart was actually worse (nutritionally speaking) in many ways. Basically, you’re getting a little more niacin in the Smart and that’s about it. Although marketing crap food as healthy is a rant for another day. The noodles were soft and overall it was slightly saltier than the original.
The KD Original was more toothsome; a bit more like “real” pasta I guess, although I would never put KD in a category with real pasta. It also tasted slightly more cheesy, which if I had to guess was due to the firmer noodle keeping the sauce on the outside instead of being absorbed into the pasta itself.
The spirals were the real shocker here. I haven’t had them in years, but they do hold a special place in the hearts of a few of my friends. I’ll also admit that they were the “treat” KD when I was a kid, so it was fun to have them again after all this time. They tasted noticeably saltier than the other two varieties, and yet had the lowest amount of sodium per serving. Unless I wasn’t paying attention and serving sizes are different for each kind of KD, something weird is going on with the spirals. I can only assume that because of the increased surface area, they hold more sauce and are therefore more flavourful. Still weird though.
I came to the conclusion that for the 4 times per year that I eat Kraft Dinner, 2 of those (at least) should be the spiral variety. The cauliflower stuff wasn’t terribly impressive, partly due to the fact that I hate being told that something is healthy when really is not, and partly due to the fact that if I’m going to eat crappy food, I don’t want it to smell like boiled cauliflower. I will not fall for your Mad Men marketing ploys, Kraft!