Hello, it’s me—your weird friend who loves throwing elaborate theme parties and always starts them exactly on time. Shouts out to the people who’ve learned this about me and have started coming to things at the exact start time on the Facebook event. You are the true heroes.
You may be familiar with the La Croix party we hosted at our place last summer—I had so much fun setting up and facilitating that party, I made Ryan brainstorm with me during a long car ride a few months later. There are a few requirements for a good taste test— One, there has to be a lot of options (ideally about 16 for a bracket) and two, it all needs to look roughly the same. We tossed around ideas like cereals and sodas, but I don’t think they’d work as well. Ryan was quiet for a minute, and then said, “what about macaroni and cheese?”
There are more than 12 brands of boxed cheddar mac ‘n’ cheeses, but since I was buying roughly four of each box, I decided to draw the line. Saturday morning before everyone arrived we cooked all 50+ boxes according to each individual brand’s requirements. Six mac ‘n’ cheeses had squeezy pouches and six had powder sauces where you mix in butter or milk or both. It was like a busy NYC restaurant in our house, with all four burners going, two mix stations, and a separate station for making the sauces. Anthony Bourdain would be proud; we cooked all of the boxes in only two hours.
Without further ado: Let the game begin!
I made these scorecards (not unlike the ones you use in wine tasting) to rank the different mac ‘n’ cheeses. Participants ranked the different options on color, smell, and taste out of five, and then totaled up the three columns to get a score out of 15. When they were done, they handed in their scorecards and we tallied them up in a Google Spreadsheet, which you can see here.
Pardon my French, but people really fucking hated the (#1) Daiya Dairy Free mac. They also really hated the (#6) Lentil Pasta. People hated the latter so much they stood nearby the whole time, watching people take a bite and grimace.
But, anyway, after we tabulated all of the scores, we announced the winners:
What happened to the rest of the mac?
As a bonus, I realized at the end I made far, far too much macaroni and cheese for this party (something about fluid ounces vs. weight ounces… I’m an artist, not a math person). Beca and I bagged up the rest of the mac ‘n’ cheese and passed it out to folks. Except #6 and #1. We threw that shit away.
Want to do this on your own?
I would love to compare results and see what you get. Click on the image below for a full-res version you can download and use with your friends. Happy cheesing!