The gluten-free and Celiac disease communities just got a second hit of good news to cap off 2020. In addition to gluten-free OREOs launching at the start of next year, gluten-free Kraft Mac & Cheese is now available in stores nationwide.
Kraft made the pasta using brown rice and corn, and tailored the blend to meet the FDA’s standards for gluten-free. This means that the ingredients used to make the mac and cheese do not come from gluten-containing grains (ie. wheat), or are processed to remove gluten to the point where there is less than 20 parts per million of gluten in the final cheesy pasta.
The mac also retains the original’s consistency and cheesy flavor, meaning that gluten-free consumers should be getting a comparable experience to those who’ve been eating Kraft’s mac for years.
With two of the world’s most ubiquitous brands moving to add gluten-free versions of their signature products, accessibility to these types of foods just became a whole lot easier.
Pringles just dropped some exclusives, as their new Bacon and Mac ‘N Cheese flavors have hit stores for a limited summertime release.
The Bacon flavor can be found at Dollar General and Walmart, while the Mac ‘N Cheese seems to be a Dollar General exclusive.
An iteration of the Mac ‘N Cheese was tested before, as part of an eight-chip Thanksgiving package in 2017. The Thanksgiving Mac ‘N Cheese was not received well in the Foodbeast office, being described as smelling like, “butt,” and kind of tasted like the uncooked cheese powder that comes with Kraft mac.
We can only imagine they’ve improved upon that recipe over the last couple years. You also can’t help but think that there was a missed opportunity to combine the two new flavors to make a Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese flavor, but I guess you can buy both and just eat the two flavors at the same time.
In 2018, there was a Thanksgiving Pringles re-release that only included the Turkey, Stuffing, and Pumpkin Pie. The one flavor they need to bring back from that Thanksgiving set, though, is the Creamed Corn. Trust me on this.
A Top Chef runner-up is bringing her dumpling game to a brand new Los Angeles food hall, including an exclusive wonton stuffed with mac and cheese that’s part of a limited collab.
Located at the new The Fields LA food hall in Exposition Park, Ms Chi is Chef Shirley Chung’s playground to transform Chinese-American dishes to new heights. One of the ways she’s doing that is with Mac N Cheese Wontons, stuffed with creamy, cheesy pasta and served with a spicy chili oil ketchup.
To celebrate the new food hall, just outside of downtown Los Angeles, and Chef Chung’s newest spot, she’ll be giving out these wontons through the Hubert’s Food Truck on Friday, November 9th, at The Fields. They’ll be paired alongside bottles of Hubert’s Blackberry Lemonade.
If you’re interested in trying out this spin on wontons for yourself, head to foodbeast.com/huberts for more information on how to get in on this exclusive culinary drop.
Tacos are one of the eating vessels of choice when you’re in San Diego. Whether it be unique creations or straight outta a truck, tons of places are cramming their food inside of tortillas.
One of the more innovative ones is coming out of the minds of a local food star, who’s put together barbeque, mac and cheese, and tacos for a whirlwind combination of flavors.
This Smokey Pork & Mac Taco comes from the mind of Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien. A local and nationally recognized TV and online food show host, he has his own place, Not Not Tacos, where he brings his zany culinary creations to life.
For the taco, Zien brings together creamy mac and cheese, pulled pork, sour cream, Sriracha, and green onions for a zesty, creamy, and tangy bite.
If you’re interested in trying this taco out for yourself, it’s being given away on the Hubert’s Lemon A Go Go Truck on Saturday, November 17th, nearby SDSU. It’ll be paired alongside bottles of Hubert’s Watermelon Lemonade.
Mac and cheese has to be one of the United States’ ultimate comfort foods. There’s something inherently relaxing about watching a waterfall of cheese ooze from the pasta clinging to your fork, and the warmth each bite brings to you.
If you’re in San Francisco and are obsessed with cheesy mac, there’s a massive culinary playground for the beloved comfort dish that’s a must try.
Photo: Foodbeast // Eloise Kim
The place is called MAC’D, and they’ve taken the ability to custom build mac and cheese to unprecedented levels. You’ve got six different sauces, three starch bases (two pastas and a cauliflower option), and a whopping 20 mix-ins and toppings to choose from.
You’re not just choosing from standard ingredients, though. There’s options like Korean short rib, pulled pork, crab, shrimp, truffle oil, Hot Cheetos, and more to choose from. Every custom bowl is also built to order, so while it may take a while to cook, you know that you’re getting everything cooked fresh, something a fast-casual chain isn’t always able to offer.
By leveraging this unique spread of toppings, sauces, and pastas, MAC’D has become a treat yourself-style mac and cheese spot where creativity runs as wild as the cheese pulls folks are capturing on social media.
MAC’D started as a pop-up in early 2017, and gained enough traction to open up their first location in San Francisco’s Marina District that July. Since then, response to the concept has been massive, and owners Antony Bello and Chen-Chen Huo already have a second SF location up and running on Fillmore Street in the Russian Hill District.
They’re also delivering in the Portland, Oregon area, a “ghost kitchen” model that the company hopes to use to expand to another 4-6 cities in the next year. From there, they said they’ll continue to open more brick-and-mortar spots based on which locations resonate with their brand.
“In the next 5-10 years, we hope to have MAC’D locations in every metropolitan hub, while serving more broadly through delivery or even affordable packaged meals,” Huo told Foodbeast.
Every time a viral item hits social media, I brace myself for the inevitable barrage of texts, tags, and links. Hungry foodies will stop at nothing to get their hands (and IG feeds) on this unique dish. And for some reason, old Pete has to come along for the ride.
We’ve been fortunate enough to help ferry some of these items across the sea of social media.
Because there’s so much more to the simple fact that a viral item may help a restaurant take off,
I spoke to a few restaurant owners who have each had an item blow up overnight. Each concept was unique: a kabob burrito, a Mexican pop culture donut shop, a cotton candy burrito, and one of the first restaurants to throw Flamin’ Hot Cheetos onto a menu item.
Here’s what they had to say:
You may best know Mini Kabob owner Armen Martirosyan by his nomme de guerre: Eat Bearded.
Mini Kabob is home to the one our favorite Middle Eastern restaurants in Los Angeles County but it was also the birthplace of his viral Ali Baba Kabob Burrito.
“The first time we created the burrito was with Instagrammer Grubfiend (Nick Fasone),” he told FOODBEAST. “It was a kabob burrito and after that we called it the Grubfiend Burrito.”
Trying to create a more marketable name, Foodbeast head of video and Lebanese Lothario Marc Kharrat came up with the Ali Baba Burrito, which Martirosyan loved.
“It’s funny because my dad calls my mom: Ali Baba. So that’s how the Ali Baba Burrito came to be.”
Wrapped within the flatbread known as lavash are a medley of hummus, rice, chicken thigh or beef shish, homemade salad, garlic sriracha sauce and sumac.
“The Ali Baba Burrito is basically a Middle Eastern Dish in a burrito.”
As soon as the video dropped, people came in waves.
“Last year when the video went up, we had a three-hour wait every Sunday. We were making about 80-90 burritos in the hour and a half that Mini Kabob offered them. It was a little too much.”
Mini Kabob lives up to its name, with about 225 square feet and a 120 square feet kitchen. Martirosyan knew about two weeks into selling the viral burrito that this just wasn’t going to work. Instead of taking down the popular item, however, he created a new business around it.
The fusion concept can be found at Smorgasburg Los Angeles every Sunday. Martirosyan is currently working on more taco products to add to his already popular menu. Though most who come for the Ali Baba Burrito will have enough on their plate dodging Mr. Sandman on the drive home.
Donas Donut Shop
“It happened on a Wednesday that you guys posted the video on your Facebook Page,” Donas co-owner David Vasquez recalls.
Donas is so much more than a donut shop. “It’s a whimsical little slice of Latino culture tucked away in Downey, CA. As fellow Foodbeast Isai Rocha puts it,
“Donas also serves as a gateway into the nostalgic memories of Mexicans who grew up with Selena, El Santo, or Abuelita hot chocolate.”
Well, it seems everyone with a sweet tooth headed straight to Donas after the video dropped.
“People just kept showing up nonstop all day. It just stayed like that where every morning we would get a line, people would come in throughout the day, and we would sell out.”
“The first Sunday since the video launched was really difficult to be honest,” co-owner Ashley Vasquez admitted. “At that point, we were only making a batch of 200 donuts a day. In the afternoon we would have a baker come in and make us a few extra ones, but the first four or five days we wouldn’t have another batch coming out.
She explained that Donas is churning out more volume, making more sales, but paying that back in labor costs.
Donas recently had to shorten their hours from closing at 10pm to 6pm. They’ve begun training a second baker to help produce a new batch of donuts for the later hours.
“We’re not just saying ‘hey, we’re sold out,” and that’s it. We’re working really hard to meet demand. We’re only meeting demand because we’ve decreased our hours.”
Ashley, David, and the partners of Donas are still working to train new staff to meet the newfound popularity of their colorful donuts. If you’re looking to get your hands on one, like the vibrant Selena Donut, you may want to get in line early, just to be safe.
Cotton Candy Burrito
“When it went viral, it was hilarious because the wife didn’t hear anything that night, got up the next morning and went to Sugar Sugar and saw that customers were already lined up at the door.”
Martin Lacombe, owner of Sugar Sugar in Sarnia, Canada, recalls his wife calling him and asking: “What the hell did you do?”
You may remember a video launching on Foodbeast last summer featuring a cotton candy burrito stuffed with scoops of ice cream and finished with Unicorn dust (edible glitter).
When it posted last summer, Lacombe’s cotton candy burrito did gangbusters, eventually reaching 30 million Facebook views since launch.
“It’s a huge honor when someone drives three or four hours for something you’ve created. It was really overwhelming for me, because I couldn’t believe people were doing that.”
Located in Sarnia, the shop is two and a half hours from Toronto and an hour from Detroit.
Last summer, when the Foodbeast video launched, Sugar Sugar would sell about 200 ice cream burritos a day. Unlike Armen’s burritos from Mini Kabob, Lacombe’s assembly process was much simpler to execute being a quick-serve ice cream parlor.
Lacombe says it only takes about 35 seconds to make a shell, everything after that can easily be done in seconds – scooping the ice cream and assembling the burrito.
“Ice cream’s easily servable, and if there’s a line outside the door and they’re waiting a long time, it’s usually a good problem to have.”
Lacombe did admit, however, he had one major regret from all this.
“The only shame and only regret that I have out of all of this is if my shop was sitting on Youngstreet in Downtown Toronto, I’d be a millionaire by now.”
Hot Cheetos Mac and Cheese
Back in 2012, the world was introduced to one of the first viral restaurant foods around: The Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Mac and Cheese.
Steve Massin, the owner of The Attic on Broadway in Long Beach, CA, fondly recalls the debut of his iconic novelty dish.
Massin asked himself:
“How do I want to make my mac and cheese fun? It just seemed to me like all of the options out there were pretty much the same — You had your bread crumb topping. It was a lot of the same kind of mac and cheese. I wanted to do something fun and different on a dish that everybody loved.”
Originally it started as Mac and cheese with Goldfish crumbles on top. One day Massin asked himself what would be a good contrast to this dish — what do people love?
“Where I come from a lot of times food was so serious, as it should be, but we took something that had really good quality in it and put something fun on top. Just to show how fun it could be.”
Twenty million views on BuzzFeed and many other videos later and the rest was history. The Attic sold 200 macs a day after that video came out.
“People loved it. I can probably count on one hand how many people said they didn’t like it, and that’s after many many mac and cheeses sold.”
The dish brought a lot of people to the restaurant who maybe wouldn’t visit otherwise if they didn’t see it on a viral video or a social media platform that drove them in.
“I think at the end of the day, It was really good for us.”
While he wouldn’t call it a negative, Massin says a lot of people know The Attic as the Mac and Cheetos place now.
“There’s so much more to the restaurant than mac and Cheetos. That was just something that we put on the menu as an appetizer just to be fun.”
Like it or not, social media is here to stay. For these restauranteurs, we found out exactly what happened to them when their concept went viral. The power of social media isn’t only geared towards unconventional menu items, however. Some fun and engaging coverage on a regular basis can reach customers further than any paid advertisement. Having a Instagram-worthy item go viral doesn’t hurt though. Chili Cheese Churros, anyone?
Apart from the rare pizza bagel, we’re often stuck with the same old sesame seeds, jalapenos with cheddar, or other basic items when it comes to bagel toppings. Einstein Bros., however, just upped the innovation game surrounding the popular baked good with their newest item: Mac N Cheese Bagels.
Photo courtesy of Einstein Bros.
Each of these carbo-loaded creations comes with a mound of cheesy mac packed into the top part of the bagel prior to baking. Einstein Bros. could’ve made their own in-house mac n cheese to top on it, but decided to go a step further than that. They teamed up with Annie’s, the popular boxed mac brand that often rivals Kraft, and used their version instead. If the macaroni on top of these bagels tastes familiar, now you know why.
You can order the bagels on their own with any schmear of your choice, but Einstein Bros. also has two new sandwiches coming out featuring the Mac N Cheese. These include a Cheesy Mac Breakfast sandwich with bacon, eggs, and cheddar, as well as a Cheesy Mac Lunch with ham, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo.
The two sandwich Mac N Cheese bagels will be on the menu for a limited time, although it’s unclear when that will specifically end. The bagels on their own will be available through the summer.
UPDATE, Nov. 29: The Flamin’ Hot Mac N’ Cheetos will officially release November 30, according to Burger King. Only available for a limited time, they can be found at all participating Burger King restaurants.
Burger King is not afraid to push the boundaries of its menu, as it often proves with Lucky Charm shakes, Farmhouse Burgers, and of course its famed Mac n’ Cheetos that released in 2016.
Now it looks like BK might bring back its Mac n’ Cheetos, this time in Flamin’ Hot form. They’ve recently been spotted in different Burger King locations, and we even found some at our local Santa Ana, California BK location.
At $2.99 for a pack of five, the Flamin’ Hot Mac n’ Cheetos were similar to its predecessor, as they had a mozzarella cheese stick feel to them. The inside was filled with mac n’ cheese, and of course, the fried snacks are rolled in Flamin’ Hot Cheeto dust.
As we tried them in the office, we honestly weren’t big fans of the hot new menu item. Our own Constantine Spyrou described them as tasting like, “vegan macaroni and cheese.” Not a knock on vegans, but anyone who has tried the mac, knows its reputation of being a bit dry and stale.
It’s possible we got a bad batch, but we felt it definitely wasn’t the King’s best achievement.
The sign on the door said they’ll only be around for a limited time, so we have to believe an official drop, possibly for the holidays, should be coming soon. We’ll keep you updated if we hear anything further.