Kraft mac and cheese is too sexy for your mom

Product shot of Kraft's "send noods" campaign, including stickers, a magazine, and a box of mac and cheese
Try to control yourself, you filthy animal.
Image: Kraft

Last week, Kraft became too sexy for this earth, too sexy for this earth, so sexy it hurt. The company launched a “Send Noods” ad campaign in which it jokingly encouraged people to send their loved ones “noods,” aka a box of macaroni and cheese. Apparently this was simply too sexy for the internet to handle, because after an uproar by a bunch of no-fun fuddy-duddies and—I can’t believe I’m actually writing this—QAnon conspiracy theorists, Kraft has pulled its cheeky campaign. When I became a food writer it never occurred to me that I would someday need to write a story that involved both a fringe 4chan group and sexualized macaroni and cheese, but here we are. (Though now that I think about it, I already covered the latter back in February.)

Kraft Instagram Story
This is seriously a thing that needed to happen.
Screenshot: Kraft Instagram

To celebrate National Noodle Day (there really is a holiday for everything) on October 6, Kraft ran a cute promotion that encouraged people to upload pics of their “noods” to a special website, where they could also send a free box of mac and cheese to someone special. Kraft even made a fun commercial staring SNL’s Vanessa Bayer, and it was wonderful! But no one can see it now, because the campaign faced a huge backlash from internet moms who claimed that it normalized the predation of children, and thanks to the uproar, Kraft has scrubbed the Bayer commercial, as well as all traces of the campaign, from its social media accounts.

“This is not okay. Don’t you realize that a huge portion of the people who actually eat your mac n’ cheese are children?!” read one of the comments on Kraft’s Instagram page. “Please delete this!! Unacceptable!” wrote another.

According to BuzzFeed News, some people began adding the hashtag #SaveTheChildren to their irate comments, which is associated with QAnon and its baseless conspiracies that I will not explain further, because they are not worth any of my attention or yours.

Kraft announced the death of Send Noods on its Instagram Story, but did not offer a formal apology—a fact that this mother of two applauds. Though my kids enjoy Kraft mac and cheese it is not meant only for children, and I wouldn’t expect Kraft to design its entire marketing strategy exclusively around toddlers. Whether you’re a child, a college student, or a depraved middle-aged adult, macaroni belongs to us all. Never let an angry mob stop you from sending all the noods you want.

Allison Robicelli is a writer, recipe czar, former professional chef, author of four (quite good) books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Tweet me for recipe help: @Robicellis.



Thing is, if you’re thinking about doing an initiative like this — a little racy, a little potentially controversial etc — then you need a few things:

1. The courage to accept the inevitable backlash and the strategic chops to have factored that backlash into your expectations and KPIs.

2. A segment of your audience that will respond to an initiative like this positively that’s robust enough to outweigh the inevitable Karen element (see: Nike).

3. A history of marketing initiatives that align with or support this type of messaging, so that it doesn’t seem off-brand, insincere, or opportunistic.

Kraft has none of these, so of course they folded like a lawn chair.