Current Events & Hot Topics

Featured Posts
survivorinohio
How Kraft Uses Patents to Dominate the Mac and Cheese Wars
January 18, 2013 at 1:04 PM


How Kraft Uses Patents to Dominate the Mac and Cheese Wars

Posted: 01/18/2013 10:45 am


The arms race is vicious and cut-throat. Competitors urgently strive to strike big-ticket deals with media companies. At the same time, their lawyers are running out and filing patents to protect multi-million dollar designs. And that is just the first step. Drafting the pieces seems simple, but in actuality borders on the impossible. All lines must intersect, and each one has a minimum viable thickness to which it must adhere. The hard pieces must be able to retain their shapes even when placed in boiling water for as long as 10 minutes, all while transforming into a soft, malleable form.

And then, these pieces of macaroni need to hold -- and taste good with -- liquefied orange goop charitably called "cheese." Welcome to the mac and cheese wars.

Every day, Kraft Foods sells one million boxes of its trademark mac and cheese in their iconic blue box. Maintaining that customer base isn't to be taken for granted, however, as after a while, children who grew up on mac and cheese age, and, in turn, stop eating it. So Kraft has to attract new mac and cheese fans -- and to do so, it relies on an ever-expanding army of creatively-shaped pieces of pasta.

Enter people like Guillermo Haro. As elucidated by this Wall Street Journal profile, Haro and his team of "pasta architects" are core to the brand's ongoing success. And it's not child's play. Haro and others are charged with developing new pasta shapes which will capture the fancy of young eaters, yes, but drawing up silly shapes hardly describes the process fairly. In over two decades of pasta-shaping, Haro has come up with 2,000 designs, of which a mere 280 have made it to consumers. At fewer than 100 designs a year with an 85 percent rejection rate, that's a lot of pasta experimentation -- and a lot of failure.

The difficulties are a mix of intellectual property pitfalls and then, design ones. On one hand, there's a team of business development professionals who look to partner with brands the children already know and love -- the Journal cites "Spongebob Squarepants" and "Phineas and Ferb" -- and enter into agreements to make pasta shaped like these characters. On the other hand, sometimes Haro and team come up with their own fun shapes, such as the U.S.-shaped pasta drawn above. If they succeed, the next step is to get the design patented, which happens more than one would expect. A search of Google's patent index shows over 2,000 or so patents involving shaped pasta. Haro and his team are responsible for 29 of them.

In either case, Haro's mission is to make sure that the pasta does all the things mac and cheese pasta should do. It has to retain its shape after being boiled -- what kid wants to eat a disintegrated Spongebob or Phineas' friend, Blob? Further, the pasta has to hold onto just the right amount of whatever the cheese-like substance that orange powder is, and, of course, taste good.

If they could only do this for vegetables.

Bonus fact: The song "Yankee Doodle" speaks of a man who "stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni." Why would a young gentleman from the American Revolution want to pretend he had pasta in his hat? He wouldn't. "Macaroni," in that context and in mid-18th century England, referred to a man with an extremely unique sense of fashion, as seen here. Macaronis were typically high class fellows and the lyric from "Yankee Doodle" is sarcastic, poking fun at the cultural ignorance of those in the New World. (Americans would, nonetheless, reclaim the song as their own, singing it with honor.) Where'd the fashion term "macaroni" come from? Back to the noodle we go. The macaroni pasta was a favorite of young, upper-class British men who traveled to Italy, and the term came (temporarily) to mean "trendy" or "fashionable."

Replies

  • Euphoric
    January 18, 2013 at 5:54 PM

     With all of this talk about chili and mac and cheese, I'm thinking of making chili mac.

  • LindaClement
    January 18, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    No, when they missed a favourite food, I empathized with them.

    We picked 'find a new favourite.'

    Quoting talia-mom:

    Becfause your 4 year old misses whAt she loved. I am sure your kids were perfect and never would miss their favorite food. My daughter did. It was already hard enough attending parties. I thought I would try to give her something that was a comfort.




    Quoting LindaClement:

    I'll never understand why people who don't (or can't or won't) eat wheat and barley keep trying to find (and pay for! OMG!) wheat-like foods.

    It's so much cheaper not to buy or eat a product than it is to find anything like an equivalent substitute. I just don't get it.

    Quoting talia-mom:

    Gluten free mac and cheese is just not the same and at 3.49 a box, I just bake some gf pasta with some Swiss and butter and bacon.




  • talia-mom
    January 18, 2013 at 5:56 PM
    Tonight is gf fried chicken, gf green bean casserole, corn on the cob, fruit salad, and chocolate pudding.


    Quoting Euphoric:

     With all of this talk about chili and mac and cheese, I'm thinking of making chili mac.


  • talia-mom
    January 18, 2013 at 5:57 PM
    Like I said, I am sure your kids were perfect. But when you have to eliminate 60% of what she loves, you might not be such a judgmental, smug person.


    Quoting LindaClement:

    No, when they missed a favourite food, I empathized with them.

    We picked 'find a new favourite.'

    Quoting talia-mom:

    Becfause your 4 year old misses whAt she loved. I am sure your kids were perfect and never would miss their favorite food. My daughter did. It was already hard enough attending parties. I thought I would try to give her something that was a comfort.









    Quoting LindaClement:

    I'll never understand why people who don't (or can't or won't) eat wheat and barley keep trying to find (and pay for! OMG!) wheat-like foods.

    It's so much cheaper not to buy or eat a product than it is to find anything like an equivalent substitute. I just don't get it.

    Quoting talia-mom:

    Gluten free mac and cheese is just not the same and at 3.49 a box, I just bake some gf pasta with some Swiss and butter and bacon.






  • LindaClement
    January 18, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    Not sure where you get 'judgemental' or 'smug' ... I said it confuses me. Not the least because of the number of people who have far less money than I ever had who pay for it --when I know, absolutely, it was not possible in my budget.

    You have no idea at all what my kids got to live with while they grew up. You have absolutely no reason at all to criticize an approach simply because you're not willing to try something different from the perfect (your word, not mine) approach for your 'perfect' child.

    Quoting talia-mom:

    Like I said, I am sure your kids were perfect. But when you have to eliminate 60% of what she loves, you might not be such a judgmental, smug person.


    Quoting LindaClement:

    No, when they missed a favourite food, I empathized with them.

    We picked 'find a new favourite.'

    Quoting talia-mom:

    Becfause your 4 year old misses whAt she loved. I am sure your kids were perfect and never would miss their favorite food. My daughter did. It was already hard enough attending parties. I thought I would try to give her something that was a comfort.









    Quoting LindaClement:

    I'll never understand why people who don't (or can't or won't) eat wheat and barley keep trying to find (and pay for! OMG!) wheat-like foods.

    It's so much cheaper not to buy or eat a product than it is to find anything like an equivalent substitute. I just don't get it.

    Quoting talia-mom:

    Gluten free mac and cheese is just not the same and at 3.49 a box, I just bake some gf pasta with some Swiss and butter and bacon.







  • talia-mom
    January 18, 2013 at 6:20 PM
    I cannot change it if you don't see how judgmental and smug you are being.
    Okay. It's life.
    I can criticize it all I want just like you are raining judgment down on people liked me who tried to find substitutes.
    I get it. You were the perfect parent and dealt with the exact same issues as I am in a much better way.


    Quoting LindaClement:

    Not sure where you get 'judgemental' or 'smug' ... I said it confuses me. Not the least because of the number of people who have far less money than I ever had who pay for it --when I know, absolutely, it was not possible in my budget.

    You have no idea at all what my kids got to live with while they grew up. You have absolutely no reason at all to criticize an approach simply because you're not willing to try something different from the perfect (your word, not mine) approach for your 'perfect' child.

    Quoting talia-mom:

    Like I said, I am sure your kids were perfect. But when you have to eliminate 60% of what she loves, you might not be such a judgmental, smug person.





    Quoting LindaClement:

    No, when they missed a favourite food, I empathized with them.

    We picked 'find a new favourite.'

    Quoting talia-mom:

    Becfause your 4 year old misses whAt she loved. I am sure your kids were perfect and never would miss their favorite food. My daughter did. It was already hard enough attending parties. I thought I would try to give her something that was a comfort.














    Quoting LindaClement:

    I'll never understand why people who don't (or can't or won't) eat wheat and barley keep trying to find (and pay for! OMG!) wheat-like foods.

    It's so much cheaper not to buy or eat a product than it is to find anything like an equivalent substitute. I just don't get it.

    Quoting talia-mom:

    Gluten free mac and cheese is just not the same and at 3.49 a box, I just bake some gf pasta with some Swiss and butter and bacon.










  • LindaClement
    January 18, 2013 at 6:23 PM

    You have an eye for the rank, yes you do.

    Who said 'better'? Ooh, that was you.

    Who said 'perfect'? Ooh, that was you, too.

    Who is having a competition in parenting? That would be you.

    I hope you're winning because I'm not playing.

    My kids are grown and I've very satisfied about how they turned out and the small part I played in it. I hope you have exactly the same results.

    Quoting talia-mom:

    I cannot change it if you don't see how judgmental and smug you are being.
    Okay. It's life.
    I can criticize it all I want just like you are raining judgment down on people liked me who tried to find substitutes.
    I get it. You were the perfect parent and dealt with the exact same issues as I am in a much better way.


    Quoting LindaClement:

    Not sure where you get 'judgemental' or 'smug' ... I said it confuses me. Not the least because of the number of people who have far less money than I ever had who pay for it --when I know, absolutely, it was not possible in my budget.

    You have no idea at all what my kids got to live with while they grew up. You have absolutely no reason at all to criticize an approach simply because you're not willing to try something different from the perfect (your word, not mine) approach for your 'perfect' child.

    Quoting talia-mom:

    Like I said, I am sure your kids were perfect. But when you have to eliminate 60% of what she loves, you might not be such a judgmental, smug person.





    Quoting LindaClement:

    No, when they missed a favourite food, I empathized with them.

    We picked 'find a new favourite.'

    Quoting talia-mom:

    Becfause your 4 year old misses whAt she loved. I am sure your kids were perfect and never would miss their favorite food. My daughter did. It was already hard enough attending parties. I thought I would try to give her something that was a comfort.














    Quoting LindaClement:

    I'll never understand why people who don't (or can't or won't) eat wheat and barley keep trying to find (and pay for! OMG!) wheat-like foods.

    It's so much cheaper not to buy or eat a product than it is to find anything like an equivalent substitute. I just don't get it.

    Quoting talia-mom:

    Gluten free mac and cheese is just not the same and at 3.49 a box, I just bake some gf pasta with some Swiss and butter and bacon.











Current Events & Hot Topics

Active Posts in All Groups
More Active Posts
Featured Posts in All Groups
More Featured Posts
close Join now to connect to
other members!
Connect with Facebook or Sign Up Using Email

Already Joined? LOG IN