Is mac & cheese a pasta salad or cereal?

Illustration: Carter Klassen · The Sentry

Illustration: Carter Klassen · The Sentry
Hands down it’s a cereal

Opinion by Holly McCloskey

In the long-running debate about the nature of mac & cheese, it’s time to finally recognize the truth that people have been running from. 2019 is the year to admit that mac & cheese is the savory cereal. It might not be the obvious conclusion at first glance, but it’s the only right one when looking at the facts.

One, pasta is a whole grain, the very thing so many cereals proclaim themselves to be. It doesn’t matter what specific grain it’s made out of; at the end of the day, macaroni and Cinnamon Toast Crunch both start their lives harvested from the field and turn into bite-sized bits that people pour into a bowl.

Two, cheese is really just curdled milk. So, either way, those whole grain bits are being smothered in dairy.

Three, both are essentially created through the simplest of ingredients and aren’t that hard to make. It’s just a liquid poured over grain. At its core, mac & cheese and cereal are one of the same heart. Culinary school? Don’t know her.

Some people might argue, “But mac & cheese is hot. Cereals aren’t hot.” False. Remember oatmeal, the warm, nutritional, blandest breakfast food? Macaroni, at best, is the cool cousin.

On the other hand, the opponent argues that macaroni is a pasta salad. Hah, foolish plebs. Pasta salads are closer to cooking other meals, with a variety of ingredients, and take “skill” to make. The dressing isn’t even milk based. It’s closer to salad, as the name implies.

“Cereal is just as good as macaroni and cheese,” one student said. “People can have both for breakfast and sometimes at once in the same bowl.” There’s a lot to unpack there, psychologically, that student needs to find some help, but still, they’re right about one thing: Mac & cheese is the food panacea.

It’s official, macaroni is a breakfast food and can be enjoyed anytime without shame. It’s the culinary holy grail that our souls have been searching for, that bowl-shaped hole in our hearts.

It’s for sure a pasta salad

Opinion by Alec Witthohn

In anticipation for peak salad season, the long-running debate between cereal lovers and salad enthusiasts will surely arise at the dinner table once again. Is mac & cheese a cereal or a pasta salad? Hopefully, a reminder of the right way to view this contentious debate will settle things before any violence breaks out in the streets.

The opponent claims that salads require skill and multiple ingredients; in other words, she argues that one must cook or prepare a salad. But macaroni doesn’t become al dente on its own, nor does cheese melt without heat. Although she argues that oatmeal counts as cereal, by this reasoning, cereal might better fit into the salad category. Do people not often put fruit on top of the cereal much like a strawberry or mandarin salad?

In fact, the only form of salad that’s ever hot is pasta salad, often kept under heat lights at local delis across America.

Now remember what pasta salad really represents in the depths of people’s hearts. Pasta salad, that delicious heap of pasta and dressing that so often appears in picnic baskets and backyard barbeque potluck tables. What else appears at every potluck, barbeque, and picnic that anyone has ever been to? Answer: mac & cheese.

This only goes to show that mac & cheese should never be featured as a breakfast staple. “That’s just wrong,” Barbra at her last family barbeque replied. “Anyone who eats mac & cheese for breakfast should seek medical attention!” Many grunts of affirmation came from the old men behind her, falling asleep in their lawn chairs.

Often the cheesy goodness that melts over the macaroni isn’t even real cheese. How could one not consider this sauce as a dressing? Merriam-Webster defines dressing as “a sauce for adding to a dish (such as a salad)” and a salad as “small pieces of food (such as pasta, meat, fruit, or vegetables) usually mixed with a dressing…” How then could one not see that the one true way to eat mac & cheese is as a pasta salad and not some classless bowl of cereal?


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