Monopoly mac and cheese: demystifying the Kraft-Velveeta debate


BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (WIAT) – It’s National Mac and Cheese Day! Maybe you plan to celebrate by making a box of your favorite noodles and cheeses, whether it’s the traditional Kraft in a blue box or the “liquid gold” Velveeta. While at first you might think you’re choosing between two rivals backed by fierce supporters preferring elbows or shells, but you actually choose Kraft anyway.

The history of the Velveeta-Kraft debate is complicated and in itself debated. According to a Smithsonian Magazine article detailing the history of Velveeta, Kraft acquired the Velveeta Cheese Company in 1927 after VCC was founded in 1923 by Emil Frey, a Swiss cheese maker residing in the United States.

A Kraft spokesperson, however, commented differently after the article was published in 2014, stating that the company actually created Velveeta in-house, using Frey’s name only on the market and not with the product. This statement, however, has not been confirmed. What is certain, however, is that either way you decide to celebrate National Mac and Cheese Day, you commemorate it with Kraft.

Kraft, in partnership with the world-renowned Heinz company, not only owns the two rival brands of macaroni and cheese. In a list of its “beloved global brands,” the conglomerate names several brands available in the United States that produce other well-known mac and cheese products.

Smart Ones, a “health conscious” brand, offers frozen versions of mac and cheese in single, family-size formats in its product line. Kraft also owns Cracker Barrel Cheese (not affiliated with the Cracker Barrel General Store), which offers fresh cheese and boxed macaroni and cheese in-store. Back to Nature, a brand with a line of plant-based snacks and a boxed and cheese line that offers organic pasta noodles under the Kraft brand.

Of course, even if you prefer to stir homemade mac and cheese on the stovetop, it’s possible, if not likely, that Kraft will be part of your kitchen. According to Reference for Business, an encyclopedia of large global companies, Kraft is the largest food company in the United States and is ranked second internationally behind Nestlé. Reference for Business also reports that the company holds the world’s No. 1 spot in 11 product categories including processed cheese and cream cheese as well as other major areas such as coffee, crackers and salad dressings. Kraft was also ranked among the “six best suppliers to the global cheese market 2016-2020” by Technavio, a market research company that provides data to media outlets like the BBC and Forbes.

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