Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Loved by people of all ages, a steaming hot bowl of pasta and melted cheese has the potential to make everything right with the world.

    So who came up with the idea to combine elbow macaroni with creamy cheese to create this simple, yet perfectly complementary concoction? As you might expect, mac and cheese traces its roots to Italy, home of many culinary delights. The "Liber de Coquina," or "Book of Cooking," an Italian cookbook from the 13th century, includes a recipe called de lasanis that foodie historians believe is the first macaroni and cheese recipe. The recipe calls for sheet pasta cut into 2-inch (5-centimeter) squares, cooked in water and tossed with grated cheese, likely Parmesan [source: Wright ].

    From then on, macaroni and cheese grew in popularity across Europe. In colonial America , casserole dishes similar to today's mac and cheese were served at New England church suppers, where they probably originated from "receipts," or recipes, passed along from English relatives. The dish was primarily reserved for the upper classes until the Industrial Revolution made pasta production easier.

    Amateur historians have often credited Thomas Jefferson with introducing macaroni and cheese to the United States. But this is wrong. Jefferson wasn't the first to introduce macaroni (with or without cheese) to America, nor did he invent the recipe. It is possible that he helped popularize macaroni and cheese, though, because he likely served it to dinner guests while president. But it was Jefferson's enslaved Black chef James Hemmings who perfected the recipe.

    Hemmings learned French cooking techniques while in Europe with Jefferson before he was president, and when they returned to the states, Hemming put his own spin on macaroni and cheese . He taught the recipe to his brother Peter Hemmings, who later served "pie called macaroni" at a state dinner hosted by Jefferson at the White House, introducing mac and cheese to America's elite.

    Eventually, Mary Rudolph, who took over hostess duties at the White House when Jefferson's wife died, included a macaroni recipe that with Parmesan cheese in her 1824 cookbook, "The Virginia Housewife."

    Of course, Kraft Foods introduced the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner in 1937, at the end of the Great Depression . Called "the housewife's best friend, a nourishing one pot meal," it was a fast, filling and inexpensive way to feed a family. In that year alone, 8 million boxes were sold, and the popularity of Kraft dinners continues today [source: Rhodes ].

    While original homemade recipes include pasta, butter or cream, and Parmesan cheese, American cooks often improvised, using cheddar, Colby or more affordable processed cheese, and spices like nutmeg and mustard. Today, gourmet versions call for a variety of cheeses, including Gruyère, smoked Gouda, and goat, and add-ins like bacon, tomatoes, shallots and more.

    So, while no single cook can lay claim to the classic macaroni and cheese recipe, everyone has a favorite version of the dish. Whether yours comes in a blue box or features a medley of gourmet ingredients, there's nothing like it for warmth and comfort.

    Originally Published: Jun 15, 2010

    Invent Macaroni and Cheese FAQ

    Who invented mac and cheese?

    Mac and cheese traces its roots to Italy. The "Liber de Coquina," or "Book of Cooking," an Italian cookbook from the 13th century, includes a recipe called de lasanis that foodie historians believe is the first macaroni and cheese recipe.

    When did mac and cheese come out?

    The very first macaroni and cheese recipe dates back to the 13th century. However, if you're thinking about Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner, that product was first released in 1937.

    When did mac and cheese became an American favorite?

    With the creation and release of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner in 1937, mac and cheese became a phenomenon. Billed as an affordable way to feed an entire family during the Great Depression, Kraft's mac and cheese really took off among consumers.

    What is mac and cheese short for?

    Mac and cheese is simply macaroni and cheese.

    Did Jefferson invent mac and cheese?

    Thomas Jefferson didn't invent mac and cheese, but he did help make the dish popular in America. Jefferson reportedly loved mac and cheese when he tried it in Italy, and he had White House chefs recreate and serve the dish during his presidency.

    What country invented mac and cheese?
    Italy Ancient History Many point to the origin of macaroni and cheese as being from a 13th cookbook named Liber de Coquina. The two authors were from France and Italy. Included in the cookbook is a recipe called “de lesanis” that many food historians believe is the first macaroni and cheese recipe. more
    Did slaves invent jeans?
    Enslaved BLACKS INVENTED BLUE JEANS. They did it in South Carolina and other Southern states in the mid-1700s by knowing how to skillfully process the indigo plant that had been skillfully cultivated by their ancestors 6,000 years ago! (It wasn't Levi Strauss in 1873.)” more
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    Paul Lutz - Owner - Inventhelp | LinkedIn. more
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    Mark Zuckerberg co-founded the social-networking website Facebook out of his college dorm room at Harvard University. Zuckerberg left college after his sophomore year to concentrate on the site, the user base of which has grown to more than two billion people, making Zuckerberg a billionaire many times over. more
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    According to the Nat Geo documentary EAT: The Story of Food: The History of the Hamburger, the lineage of In-N-Out burgers can be traced back to the 13th-century Mongolia. more
    Did Mexico invent chocolate?
    Who invented chocolate? Chocolate's 4,000-year history began in ancient Mesoamerica, present day Mexico. It's here that the first cacao plants were found. The Olmec, one of the earliest civilizations in Latin America, were the first to turn the cacao plant into chocolate. more
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    Throughout history, people have had a basic human need to cut hair. In the 19th-century, Serbian inventor Nikola Bizumić revolutionised the world of barbering forever. Rather than using traditional cutting methods, his new invention, manual clippers, reduced the time it took to cut hair. more
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    Unbreakable earphones and a cell phone charger that runs on sunlight are some of the technological inventions created by Colombians who, with their creativity, talent and knowledge, have been able to design innovative green projects in order to improve people's lives and, at the same time, protect the environment. more
    Did Mexico invent popcorn?
    Since popcorn comes from corn, specifically the zea mays everta variety, popcorn was never really “invented” by man, however there is evidence of popcorn all throughout the history of the Americas. The oldest popcorn known to date was found in New Mexico. more
    What did Syria invent?
    Here in Syria, where man contributed to humanity with a great civilized achievement as he discovered copper and invented bronze. This metal civilization originated on the banks of khabour in (Tell Halaf). Before that, there was the invention of clay and making it into ceramic and decorations. more
    Who invent crypto?
    Satoshi Nakamoto Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper in 2008 that introduced cryptocurrency to a much wider audience, initiating its rise to popularity. The paper, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, described the use of a peer-to-peer network as a solution to the problem of double-spending. more


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