Update, September 14, 2021: You may not want to physically eat Panera’s new Grilled Mac & Cheese Sandwich for all of the reasons listed below; fortunately, you can wear it instead. Per a press release sent to The Takeout, Panera is “catapulting back to the year 2006 when you were making macaroni noodle necklaces” with a classy gold noodle necklace inspired by the new sandwich.
Pictured here, the necklace features a gold chain bedazzled with three gold-plated noodles. The brand calls it a “modern take on those iconic DIY noodle necklaces created in the early 2000s by stringing together an assortment of dried noodles.”
I don’t know that this necklace is necessarily a hallmark of Y2K nostalgia—by 2006, I had already leaned hard into puka shell necklaces—but I appreciate the sentiment, because this necklace is actually very cute. At first glance, the gold noodles look more like fancy gold curlicues. Unfortunately, they’re only available through a limited-time sweepstakes on Panera’s website. Hell yeah, I entered! Join me!
Original post, September 11, 2021: If you could eat absolutely anything for lunch today without fear of gastric consequences and/or an afternoon energy plunge, what would it be? I’m talking gut-busting, blood sugar-spiking, dairy-laden masterpieces. If you were guaranteed immunity from office diarrhea, would you demolish a triple-decker patty melt? Would you wash it down with a big ol’ beer? How about a jumbo banana split for dessert? Personally, I’d go for the newest offering from Panera Bread: the Grilled Mac & Cheese Sandwich.
The new sandwich is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Panera has taken its signature mac and cheese—undoubtedly the best thing on the menu, I’ll Full Nelson anyone who disagrees—and nestled it between two toasted slices of the chain’s Classic White Miche bread. The sandwich also features Parmesan crisps, in case you’d like to further tempt the dairy gods.
I should be clear: though I was a Panera mac and cheese devotee in high school, the Grilled Mac & Cheese Sandwich is not something I can feasibly eat at this time in my life. The sandwich sounds delicious, and it’s certainly made a stir in the YouTube extreme eating community (see this article’s header image for proof). But I fear that a grilled cheese made of pasta would tear through my insides like a cheesy Formula 1 event. Eating a little cup of the mac and cheese is dangerous enough given its extreme creaminess; but a sandwich full of mac and cheese, and then topped with more cheese? Not pretty.
Still, if your body has somehow been spared the injustices of adulthood, you can try the sandwich for yourself now. It’s currently available at Panera locations nationwide. Why couldn’t Panera have thought of this back in 2008? I was younger then. Stronger. Regardless, if you try it, let me know.