I spent my summer nannying for two boys, ages 5 and 7. Not only were they your typical hyper-energetic, potty-humor-obsessed little boys, they were also picky eaters.
Having grown up on the classic Kraft mac, I was hesitant to try this organic stuff. Half the deliciousness of Kraft was due to all the chemicals in the ingredients list.
But I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and give Annie's a taste. The following ranking is based off months (literally) of personal sampling and extensive questioning of the aforementioned children.
Shells & White Cheddar
Sawyer (age 5): I like the purple [box] best.
Me: Why? What do you like about it?
Eli (Age 7): He just likes it because he likes it. And it's my favorite too.
My take: This was decidedly the most "adult" tasting flavor. It has some serious tang and I hesitate to even compare it to Kraft Mac & Cheese because the flavors are just so different. I was pretty thrown off the first time I tried this flavor, but it definitely grew on me.
Shells & Real Aged Cheddar
Eli: This is also good. I like that the noodles can stick to the spoon.
Sawyer: Yummmm (big smile on adorable face).
My Take: My personal favorite, this variety is similar to the flavor profile I've come to expect from boxed mac & cheese, but the orecchiette pasta makes it feel a little more mature than the Kraft.
Macaroni & Cheese
Eli: I also like this one. I like them all.
Sawyer: Me too.
My Take: This one most closely resembles the Kraft that some of us know and love (or at least remember fondly). The flavor is a milder version of the Shells & Real Aged Cheddar, and the noodles are the long and thin type found in Kraft. Major key is sliding the noodles over the tines of your fork so they look like headlights on a car...Or was I the only one who did that?
It turns out small children are not the most critical mac & cheese consumers. Overall, though, boxed mac & cheese is a pretty inoffensive meal, easy to make and sure to be enjoyed by even the pickiest of eaters. If you're feeling like doing more than boiling a pot of water, roll up your sleeves and make your own at home.