January 16, 2017 by
The VRG Blog Editor
By Marc Bernstein
(Marc is a 12 year old leader of www.VegKids.org, loves attending www.VeganCamp.org during vacations, and is a professional writer who can be followed at www.TheKidSays.com)
Before you were vegan, did you love mac n cheese? Did you love those instant boxes as a quick and yummy meal? When you went vegan did you think you had to give that up? Maybe you did then, but sure don’t have to now. How amazing it is that there are so many companies making so many varieties of instant vegan mac n cheese now. Mac n cheese has always been a kid favorite, and now us vegan kids have so many options to try. But some are definitely better than others!
During winter camp with www.VeganCamp.org, we spent a rainy afternoon in the cabin having a vegan instant kind of mac n cheese blind taste off. We compared the different types from Amys, Annies, Beyond Better, Daiya, Earth Balance, Leahey, Pastariso, Roads End, and So Delicious. We tried all the different flavors of all of these and sure got to enjoy loads of mac n cheese. Definitely a yummy afternoon! We even watched the cheesy movie “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” while we feasted and voted.
All of these mac n cheese mixes were made in our camp cabin kitchen and put in big bowls labeled by letters. Behind each bowl was a mug. We each got to try a couple or more bites of each, and we could go back as much as we wanted to try and try until we each felt we had our own first, second, and third choice winners. We had some plain crackers, apple slices, cucumber slices, and water just to kind of clear our taste buds if we wanted between bites.
We were allowed to vote for first, second and third choices, and we were set up for ties if needed too. We each had a total of twelve points to give. The main plan was for first choices to win six points from each of us, second choices to win four points from each of us, and third choices to win two points from each of us. If we felt there was a tie, we each had the right to take our twelve points and shift them to give say five points to two tied first places if we wanted and then two to our third choice. We could also have done other similar weighing combinations. If we even thought there was a twelve way tie (which nobody did), we could even have given one point to each of twelve types. We were also allowed to split points into half points if we wanted. But no matter what, each of us only had exactly twelve points to split out to our top choices. With this system, we each were given twelve little red prize type tickets to put in the mugs behind our choices.
We also were allowed to write comments on our tickets before we put them in the mugs. If we also wanted to make comments on some of the mac n cheeses that didn’t get our votes, then we used little white paper slips. Some of the non-winners got comments like “bitter,” “grainy,” “gross,” “needs more cheese flavor,” “too salty,” “yuck,” and “would turn off someone who wasn’t vegan.” There were some brands that got no votes at all and only got negative white slips.
We did have a definite strong winner. Are you ready for it (if the picture didn’t give it away)? 60% of the votes showed that we liked Daiya Foods the best even if we didn’t all agree on which Daiya flavor. We loved the Daiya Cheddar and the Daiya White Cheddar much better than the Daiya Alfredo. First choice of all of the couple dozen choices was the Daiya Cheddar winning over a third of the votes with 34%. Second choice was the Daiya White Cheddar with almost a quarter at 22%. The Daiya Alfredo got only 4%. But totaled together, Daiya won 60% of the votes.
Some of the comments for Daiya were “creamy,” “delicious,” “smooth,” “like real mac n cheese,” and in one kids really small writing “kids who aren’t vegan wouldn’t know the difference.” The only complaint about Daiya was that a couple of kids said they liked Daiya best but like shell shapes and want Daiya to make a shell shaped version. We sure had a really nice Daiya 😉
While Daiya won first place with their Cheddar and second place with their White Cheddar, the third place winner was definitely Road’s End Cheddar Shells winning 16% of the votes. While we only said we were awarding the top three places, it is interesting that Road’s End Cheddar Elbows won fourth place with 10%, and their Cheddar Penne tied Daiya Alfredo, Earth Balance, and So Delicious for fifth place with 4%.
As you can figure out, there were a number of brands that received no votes at all. But there were two companies that were strong winners. Road’s End Cheddar Shells was the third place of the mac n cheeses with 16%, but the Road’s End company came in as second best company with a total of 30%. Daiya Cheddar was the first place of the mac n cheeses with 34% and Daiya Cheddar was the second place with 22%, but the Daiya company came in a really strong first place with 60%.
It was a fun cheesy way to end 2016, and now you know how you might want to start your 2017. Vegan mac n cheese for the New Year! SEIZE THE DAIYA 🙂