2002 was a tumultuous year in the United States. As a country freshly reeling from the September 11th terror attacks, plus a war in Afghanistan, Americans understandably gravitated to comfort food classics, plus Asian and Peruvian cuisine. According to The New York Times, bubble tea, purple Peruvian potatoes, and pisco were predicted to have their moments, but it was macaroni and cheese that emerged as the key food of the early 2000s, with a million boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese flying off American grocery store shelves daily, and headlines from the time declaring it the “ultimate comfort food” (via Herald Tribune).
In addition to being a childhood classic, macaroni and cheese hits all of the comfort food notes pitch perfectly. You have piles of carb-rich pasta, plus plenty of molten, gooey cheeses, and sometimes a light sprinkle of breadcrumbs or panko on top. Plus, savvy and hungry cooks can dress up the dish with bacon bits, Buffalo chicken, or vegetables like mushrooms and broccoli. Whether you like your mac and cheese baked or stirred up on the stovetop, it’s the ultimate satisfying treat.