Social media has been abuzz with posts about Kraft’s new vibrant orange macaroni-and-cheese-flavored ice cream —and for good reason. The maker of the famous boxed mac n’ cheese recently released a limited-edition ice cream in partnership with Brooklyn-based Van Leeuwen Ice Cream to merge together two iconic foods, whether consumers wanted it or not. So, is it just a gimmick or is Kraft hoping to get into the ice cream business long-term?
“We know that there is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than ice cream. That is why we wanted to combine two of the most iconic comfort foods to create an ice cream with the unforgettable flavor of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese we all grew up with,” said Emily Violett, senior associate brand manager for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, in a press release.
Consumers’ stomachs were put to the test last Wednesday when Van Leeuwen divvied out the bright orange concoction at various locations across New York, Houston and Los Angeles. Pints were also available online for $12, but quickly sold out. The collaboration was created in honor of National Macaroni and Cheese Day on July 14.
The unusual pairing received mixed reviews from those lucky enough to get a taste. NBC New York reported that many described the flavor as “sweet but salty.” Eater writer Amy McCarthy called it “definitely cheesy,” on NPR‘s Morning Edition. She added, “It’s a little funky, a little salty, a little sweet. But altogether I’d just say it just kind of comes together.” However, Kraft’s ice cream churned out a plethora of criticism online.
i was gonna make a witty caption for this but i don't even have anything man. i'm thoroughly repulsed https://t.co/OGe6iSJlcl
— Cat (@CatalystNB) July 15, 2021
Aside from an unlikely mashup to celebrate National Macaroni and Cheese Day, there is likely one main reason for Kraft’s foray into ice cream. The ice cream was only intended to be sold for a brief period of time in order to gain media attention and give exposure to both brands. If it was indeed a PR stunt, it was successful. And despite the skeptics online, all press is good press, as the saying goes.
This isn’t the first time Kraft has dreamt up some previously unthinkable flavors or mashups. To celebrate the first day of fall, Kraft introduced Pumpkin Spice KD which combined classic Kraft Dinner with
pumpkin spice latte flavors. Following Pumpkin Spice KD, Kraft launched a limited-edition Candy KD in honor of Valentine’s Day. While Pumpkin Spice KD retained the normal orange hue, Candy KD featured a bright pink color with hints of sweet candy. Both flavors were made in limited supply and customers had to join waitlists to snag a box.
Given Kraft’s history of strange, eye-catching limited-edition flavors and pairings, it’s safe to say Kraft’s ice cream was just a short-lived promotional gimmick. And while the ice cream was successful as a PR stunt, many open-minded individuals would argue that it was also successful as an ice cream. Whether it becomes a National Macaroni and Cheese Day staple remains to be seen. But Kraft’s and Van Leeuwen’s partnership is sure to inspire more unusual food mashups for lively internet discussions.