Aw hell, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Ice Cream is actually great

We're surprised, and maybe even a little annoyed, that this flavor combo works so well.

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Pint of Van Leeuwen Kraft Macaroni & Cheese ice cream with scooper on countertop
Photo: Marnie Shure

Look, you’re about to read a lot about bright orange, macaroni-and-cheese-flavored ice cream. If that’s objectionable to you, we completely understand. It wasn’t something we expected to find information about in our own inboxes, either. But find it we did, and according to a press release, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Ice Cream is, in fact, an intentional product and not some horrible mistake. Read on, if you dare:

This summer, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is bringing together two of life’s greatest pleasures: ice cream and macaroni & cheese. For the first time ever, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese will launch a limited-edition ice cream in partnership with Brooklyn-based Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, the cult favorite brand known for making decadent and delicious ice cream and vegan ice cream with just a few ingredients. The brands collaborated to turn the comfort of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese into the ultimate summer treat with no artificial flavors, preservatives, or dyes.

To create the creamy treat, Van Leeuwen churned the familiar, cheesiness of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese into their ice cream made with only a few ingredients. The result? A cool, creamy scoop of ice cream that brings that comforting, nostalgic feeling from a warm bowl of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

Putting its money where its mouth is, Kraft kindly sent The Takeout some sample pints. Below is a lightly edited transcript of staff writer Lillian Stone and editor in chief Marnie Shure tasting the ice cream in tandem for the first time and sharing their thoughts.


Marnie Shure: I currently have a full stomach, which I feel will make me more honest in my assessment of this ice cream. How are you feeling?

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Lillian Stone: I’m feeling good. I’ve had a small piece of frozen fish for lunch, but my sweet tooth always pops off around 1 or 2 p.m.

MS: Let’s see if this stuff satisfies a sweet tooth. Ingredients: cream, milk, cane sugar, egg yolks, Kraft cheese sauce mix. In that order. How orange do you expect this to be?

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LS: I just finished reviewing the Jeni’s summer flavors, and some of those had a nice, sunset-y, creamsicle color. A pastel orange is what I’m picturing. Anything else is going to make me run screaming into the hills.

Aerial view of open pint of Van Leeuwen Kraft Macaroni & Cheese ice cream
Voila
Photo: Marnie Shure
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Hey, that’s exactly what I was picturing!

MS: It’s like a mango sherbet. Nice!

LS: This looks good. There’s some info on the side: “If this reminds you of the ice cream you grew up with, you might be out of your mind. If this reminds you of the comforting bowl of Kraft mac and cheese you grew up with, you’re getting warmer.” Okay...

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MS: So they want us to be weirded out.

LS: The packaging is nice and classic, though. I was expecting it to be zanier.

MS: It seems like the company wants it to become part of your actual ice cream rotation.

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LS: Absolutely. I will say, my eyes were opened to savory ice creams earlier this year when we wrote the Jeni’s Everything Bagel ice cream review. That was delicious.

MS: I’m now gearing up, getting myself in the mode of thinking about mac and cheese. Should we try it?

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[Both writers take a contemplative spoonful. Several seconds of silence follow as they brace for an unpleasantness that does not arrive.]

LS: I think that’s delightful! Maybe. Hold on.

[Several more seconds elapse.]

LS: It’s so weird. The cheese... grows on you.

MS: Did you taste the cheese at first?

LS: No, not until I had swallowed the bite. Now it’s all up in my mouth.

MS: It’s kind of... noodly. I’m getting the starchy noodle flavor as much as the cheese.

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LS: It actually tastes startlingly like Kraft mac and cheese. [laughing]

MS: Have you ever had goat cheese ice cream? It tasted a lot like that on the front end. I wonder if I would have tasted “mac and cheese” if it wasn’t orange, and if it didn’t say Kraft right on it.

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LS: I’m going to go in again.

MS: It is at the optimal temperature to taste the different flavor notes.

LS: On the very tip of the tongue, I can’t taste the cheese at all. It just tastes like a mild ice cream.

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MS: You’ve got to get it way back there.

LS: As close to the gullet as possible. Hold on... [more spoonfuls; more thoughts.] It’s super buttery.

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MS: It’s great quality ice cream. Really smooth.

LS: Oh, I’m really glad there aren’t chunks of noodle in this.

MS: No textural element, thank god.

LS: I actually think I like this!

MS: I think I do too! I’m very sensitive to the aftertastes of things, and this doesn’t really have one. You’re not left with the weirdness of these flavors.

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LS: It’s not off-putting. It’s nice. I could see this combining well with just a scoop of vanilla in your cone.

MS: If you served this to somebody without explanation, and did not say what flavor it was, do you think they’d be able to pinpoint anything remotely near “mac and cheese”?

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LS: No. I think they’d assume it was cheesecake. Have you ever had ice cream with a sour cream base? I’m a fan of that.

MS: I’m very impressed by this.

LS: Me too. I was so ready to be grossed out.

MS: I’m having people over in a few weeks. I think I’ll have to serve this and see if anyone can guess the flavors.

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LS: Do it! I’m going to have one more spoonful.

MS: What do we think? An “A” rating? There’s really no downside to it, right?

LS: I would say A. I think it’s really nice. It’s definitely not cloying. The texture is wonderful.

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MS: As you take multiple spoonfuls, does the cheesiness come through more?

LS: No, it’s just consistently nice. I’m getting a teeny, teeny aftertaste, but it’s not like I just ate a bowl of mac and cheese. It truly tastes like cheesecake to me.

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MS: But with excellent branding.

LS: I could fully eat a bowl of this and be happy as a clam. And I probably will.

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MS: What would you put on top of it?

LS: What a great question.

MS: Candied bacon bits?

LS: Candied bacon bits? Okay, 2008 called. Twirl your handlebar mustache and take me to an underground cocktail bar, why don’t you?

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MS: We’ll take the penny-farthing.


For anyone interested in securing a pint of this deliciously bizarre, limited-edition Kraft Macaroni & Cheese ice cream, pints will be available for online orders on vanleeuwenicecream.com starting July 14 at 11 a.m. Eastern. Pints will cost $12 each. If you’re in New York City, Los Angeles, or Houston, Van Leeuwen stores will also be selling the pints starting July 14 while supplies last. Finally, New Yorkers can also try the ice cream for free (while supplies last) on July 14 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Union Square, where a Van Leeuwen ice cream truck will be handing out samples. Sounds like you have no excuse not to try this orange oddity, no?