‘The Blue Box’: Kraft’s original macaroni and cheese boxes weren’t really blue at all


Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, which debuted in 1937, wasn’t sold in primarily blue boxes until 1954. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – Kraft Macaroni and Cheese has become so synonymous with its packaging that Kraft’s marketing campaigns have long encouraged customers to accept no substitute for “the Blue Box.”

It may come as a bit of a surprise then, that the original packaging wasn’t so blue at all.

Kraft Dinner packaging, 1937 (The Kraft Heinz Company)

Upon its debut in 1937, Kraft’s boxed macaroni and cheese product — then called Kraft Dinner — was primarily yellow, with the exception of a few navy sections on the front of the box. This color scheme remained the standard for nearly two decades (the navy sections had all but disappeared by 1953) until Kraft switched to an earlier version of its now-recognizable blue boxes, which debuted in 1954.

Kraft Dinner packaging, 1953 (The Kraft Heinz Company)

In the years since, Kraft has toyed with other color schemes — namely blue and white, in both the ‘70s and ‘80s — but gravitated back to blue over the last several decades.

“Kids want the one in the blue box,” a television campaign from the ‘90s proclaimed. Other ads from the era depicted children singing the “Blue Box Blues” whenever they have a hankering for macaroni and cheese.

Today, the company still touts its “iconic” blue boxes, along with an entire Blue Box product line of over a dozen items.

Kraft Dinner boxes are seen displayed at a supermarket in 1945. (The Kraft Heinz Company)

Kraft’s branding tactics appear to be working, too. The Kraft Heinz Company sells millions of boxes per week, with Canadians consuming the largest share of any single country. In 2020, Kraft even marketed its macaroni and cheese as “part of a balanced breakfast,” citing a survey that suggested more parents were willing to serve macaroni and cheese to their children at breakfast, at least during the pandemic.

In other words, Kraft continues to encourage consumers around the globe to reach for macaroni and cheese at any time of day — so long as it’s the one in the blue box. But, if those same consumers happen to reach for another popular brand, that’s probably OK too: The Kraft Heinz Company owns Velveeta, which ironically markets its Shells and Cheese products in bright yellow boxes.

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