The Universe of Discourse

Sun, 09 Apr 2006

Convenience foods
Today I bought a box of Kraft "Deluxe" Macaroni and Cheese Dinner. I also bought a box of San Giorgio rotini and a half pound of cheap cheddar cheese. The Kraft kit contains 12 ounces of low-quality elbow macaroni and a foil pouch continaing two ounces of nasty cheese sauce.

The cheddar cheese cost $1.69 per half pound. The rotini cost $1.39 for one pound. Scaling these values to the amounts in the Kraft kit, we get $.42 for cheese plus $1.05 for pasta, totalling $1.47. The Kraft kit, however, cost $2.79.

What did my $1.32 get me? Certainly not better quality; the cheese substance in the Kraft kit is considerably lower quality than even low-quality cheese. I could substitute high-quality Vermont cheddar for only about $.80 extra.

Did I get a time or convenience win? The Kraft instructions are: boil two quarts of water, add pasta, stir, cook for eight to ten minutes, drain, return to pot, add cheese sauce, stir again. To make macaroni and cheese "from scratch" requires only one extra step: grate or cube the cheese. The time savings for the kit is minimal. If Kraft were going to charge me a 90% premium for thirty-second ready-to-eat microwave mac-and-cheese, I might consider it a good deal. As it is, my primary conclusion is that I was suckered.

Secondary conclusion: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

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