Perceptions of Kraft Dinner

by Andree Lau, CBCnews.ca

When I was growing up, Kraft Dinner was an exotic food. It was obviously not part of my Chinese family's traditional diet, but thanks to TV commercials and such, KD seemed fun and sure to be tasty.

I remember often begging my best friend in Grade 7 to trade her thermos of KD for my ham sandwich.

A study found Kraft Dinner is viewed differently by Canadians from contrasting income levels. (Ruth Bonneville/Canadian Press)

But once I had tasted KD, I realized it wasn't really the macaroni and cheese I wanted; it was the idea of having something novel and Westernized that I coveted.

I learned last week that Canadians' memories and perceptions of KD are astonishingly varied.

An associate professor at the University of Calgary co-authored a study that looked at people's perceptions of Kraft Dinner. It was really an examination of social attitudes between those who are "food secure" and those who are on low incomes and "food insecure" — where running out of food is a daily reality.

The study found that food-secure Canadians perceived KD as convenient, easy to prepare and popular among kids. They said for those reasons, KD was an acceptable (and popular) donation to food banks.

But for people on the receiving end, KD is seen as the food of last resort. To them, it represents money running out and food being scarce. Some said it underscored the fact they couldn't afford butter or milk to make the KD. And many parents said their kids hated the taste because they had to eat the mac and cheese so much.

The story we posted on the CBC site generated an incredibly interesting discussion from people who grew up receiving KD from food banks to higher-income Canadians defending what they sent to social agencies. Others recalled subsisting on KD in their university days, while others talked about the need to teach the poor better nutritional and cooking skills.

What's your relationship with Kraft Dinner?