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Is macaroni and cheese a breakfast food? Kraft is trying to make it one

The makers of the classic kid-friendly food are passing mac and cheese off as breakfast for its latest promo.
/ Source: TODAY

Since millions of American parents scrambled to balance their own work/life responsibilities with entertaining the kids, schooling them on virtual platforms and orchestrating meals throughout the day, many sought out faster solutions to feeding the fam — even if it wasn't always healthy.

At least this is what Kraft Heinz, the company behind the iconic blue and yellow box of macaroni and cheese, is banking on for its latest promotion. While most know Kraft Mac and Cheese and Easy Mac as the shoe-in lunch or dinner option for picky eaters, the company found people eat it for breakfast as well.

Mac and Cheese got a pass to become a breakfast food. Well, at least from the folks at Kraft.
Mac and Cheese got a pass to become a breakfast food. Well, at least from the folks at Kraft.Kraft Heinz

On Tuesday, the brand announced a survey it conducted of 1000 parents, 56% of whom fed their children Kraft Mac & Cheese more often for breakfast during COVID 19 state lockdowns than in previous months.

Naturally, this presented Kraft the opportunity to rebrand its macaroni and cheese and replace the "dinner" label on its Mac & Cheese Original boxes with "breakfast." According to a company spokesperson, the limited-edition boxes will be sold at select grocery stores in 2021, though she was unable to specify which or for how long.

And so, amid the many surprises 2020 has sprung on us, it's now apparently OK to whip up a batch of mac before the school day begins.

Hash Brown Mac and Cheese

Get The Recipe

Hash Brown Mac and Cheese

Jeremy Jacobowitz, Brunch Boys

Or is it?

TODAY Food turned to registered dietician Frances Largeman-Roth to clarify whether macaroni and cheese is all sunshine and smiles, or if there's a darker side to serving it in the morning.

"I can tell you first hand that parents are stressed and meal time is certainly adding to that stress. Mac and cheese is something that most kids, mine included, generally like and eat happily. Mac and cheese provides carbs for energy and some protein and fat, but I wouldn’t call it a complete breakfast," Largeman-Roth told TODAY and noted the dish could be part of breakfast, as long as other healthy items are thrown in the mix.

While Kraft-Heinz suggested pairing mac and cheese with other (historically acceptable) breakfast toppings like crumbled sausage, bacon or eggs, Largeman-Roth recommended fresh fruit and other protein-rich items like grapes, a cup of yogurt or some turkey bacon.

"Breakfast is the best opportunity to get in fruit, calcium-rich dairy and whole grains. So if you’re going to offer your kids mac and cheese for breakfast, stick to one serving and balance it out with other healthy items," Largeman-Roth told TODAY. "I wouldn’t serve to kids daily because it’s fairly high in sodium (nearly 500mg), so save it for when you have an important Zoom meeting and you need it to be quiet."

Along with replacing labels on limited-edition boxes, Kraft will launch a social media contest on Friday where folks can win a mac and cheese breakfast box, which includes the product, a placemat for kids to color and a magnet with breakfast topping ideas. For each person who enters, Kraft Heinz will donate 10 boxes to Feed the Children, an organization that helps end child hunger. The donation caps out at 1 million boxes (or 100,000 entries).

To enter, fans need to use the hashtag #KMCforBreakfast and #Sweepstakes on Twitter. A reply will generate with a direct link that shows if they've won. Those without Twitter can enter online. There will be 500 total winning boxes distributed to mac and cheese fans around the country.

Now, the only question left unaddressed is whether the new Cheetos Mac N' Cheese can also count as breakfast? (Asking for a friend).