The great boxed vegan mac cook-off

Sunday, July 5, 2020
We've had some extra time on our hands lately (*ahem*) and we're getting reaaaaaaally tired of cooking everyday, so what better time than now to try out the FOUR WHOLE OPTIONS of boxed vegan mac that our grocery store offers? Four. How is this real?

Let's introduce our contenders!

First on the podium is Annie's Organic Vegan Mac with "Creamy Sauce." While she's been around for awhile longer than our other competitors, she doesn't win any points for her marketing. That name could use some work.

Next up, the first from the Modern Table team, good old "Classic Cheddar Style" mac. 

Warming up behind her, we've got her teammate "White Cheddar Style."

And finally, pulling up the rear but still itching to win, the last Modern Table contestant -- "Southwest." Southwest of what, nobody knows.

All four contenders weigh in around 6 ounces so this should be an equal fight. We'll have to take up the issue of this teeny, tiny weight class with the producers. We're not quite sure why they think 6 ounces is enough food for anyone, especially when we're talking mac and cheese, but that's a discussion for another time.

As the contest gets started we notice that all three members of the Modern Table team seem to get really foamy when cooking. In fact, their boxes even warn you of this phenomenon. Strange, but not unmanageable. The lone contender from team Annie's doesn't appear to cook much differently than a "normal" pasta. We're also noticing that all four entrants are reaching the finish line a lot faster than their published race times on the box. There is no way we're cooking these as prescribed or we'll end up with mushy, over-tired pasta. Faster time to finished mac is not a problem for me.

After a quick drain in the colander, we're onto the final stages now. It's time to see how the powder packets stack up with the support of Oatly oat milk and Earth Balance butter.

As the packets of powder are opened, the judges seem to be signaling an initial preference for the smell of the Modern Table competitors. Team Annie seems to have elicited a rather strange reaction from some of the judges -- hopefully her smell isn't too overpowering.

As the mac and cheese comes together, all competitors appear to have a similar consistency. Everyone is creamy, with an even texture. No graininess to be seen. Things are looking promising for all entrants. 

Now for the final taste tests. Let's turn the mic over to our judges.

Annie's - Organic Vegan Mac with "Creamy Sauce" 
While Annie's pulled ahead early because of her more refined cooking style, she fell later in the smell test and ultimately disappointed in the taste test. We were surprised that something with such a strange smell uncooked could lack much of any flavor when fully prepared. We give Annie's a 5/10.

Modern Table - Classic Cheddar Style
Classic Cheddar Style lost some points for it's rather strange cooking technique, but ultimately made a strong showing in terms of flavor and styling. There's no denying the importance of the classic orange mac and cheese for ultimate comfort and satisfaction. 9/10.

Modern Table - White Cheddar Style
While White Cheddar Style had a very similar showing to it's teammate, the white color and slightly less traditional flavor profile lost it a few more points. A solid effort and still satisfies. 8/10.

Modern Table - Southwest
Finally, the last Modern Table entrant made a bigger statement with it's flavor profile, and while we judges appreciated the variety, ultimately we do not believe the consumer would be looking for these flavors when craving the typical boxed mac and cheese. Good for a little fun, but not when you need mac and cheese the most. 7/10.

And there you have it! Modern Table stacks the podium! Better luck next time Annie's -- you might want a new training approach the compete with this new breed of competitor.  
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