How Macaroni and Cheese Became a Staple Comfort Food in the United States

Despite its strong roots in the U.S., mac n’ cheese actually originated in Europe.

Weird History Food is one of our favorite YouTube channels, as they are always taking us through all of the random history lessons that we did not know we needed.

Tom Blank is the man and we absolutely love watching him. Once you have had the chance to check out his recent video, you will see exactly what we are talking about.

Photo: Pexels/Hayden Walker

Blank is providing us with the story of how macaroni and cheese ended up becoming such a popular dish in America. As it turns out, the classic side dish was first served in Europe. It got its start in Italy before making its way through the rest of the continent. Of course, it was only a matter of time before it became popular on the other side of the pond.

Our lives have never been the same and we have loved learning more about its migration to our corner of the world.

Photo: Pixabay/wesweaver

“Whether you make it fresh or from a box and whether you know it or not when you eat mac and cheese you’re taking part in a multinational Heritage that stretches back centuries and across the Atlantic but how did this delicious dish make its way to the U.S?” the description explains.

According to the video, James Hemings is the one who is responsible for the dish coming to America. He was one of Thomas Jefferson’s slaves and was sent to France to learn more about the local cuisine. He received formal training in French fine dining and when he returned, he brought a number of recipes back to the United States with him.


Of course, macaroni and cheese was one of them. The earliest iteration of the dish was actually known as macaroni pie, which we did not know about. The dish was immensely popular when it first came to prominence in America but back then, only a select few were able to afford it.

“Jefferson’s 19-year-old enslaved cook James Hemings came with him on his 1784 trip to Paris while there Hemings studied French cooking techniques under the supervision of Master Parisian chefs. He and Jefferson returned to Virginia and Hemings brought his Newfound knowledge back to Jefferson’s Monticello estate,” Blank shares.

To learn more about macaroni and cheese and how it got to be so popular in the US, please be sure to watch this awesome video:

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