Food & Drink | November 10, 2022 6:56 am

We Tried Gal Gadot’s Mac and Cheese. It’s Pretty Good.

Santa Cruz-based Goodles is a welcome reprieve from Big Macaroni

A still of Gal Gadot in front of mac and cheese clip art.
The 37-year-old actor is listed as a "founding partner" of the young brand.
Gadot/Getty Images

A friend of mine told me he once ran into a scion of the Kraft Foods empire at a party, who told him that he’d never eaten an Oreo before. Children of the company’s executive branch apparently grow up forbidden from consuming Kraft products.

Why? Probably because the conglomerate’s best-sellers have long been addictive, low-nutrition, high-processed crap. The anecdote — which may or may not be true, but who cares — reminded me of that story that swirled out of Silicon Valley a few years back, when a number of tech titans bragged that they didn’t let their kids use smartphones or tablets. They’re okay with selling the machines around the globe but evidently fret their inherent dangers enough to limit consumption around the house.

The Kraft tidbit has always bothered me, as I’m a huge fan of boxed mac and cheese. When I studied abroad in college, it was the only thing I requested from home a couple months in, along with extra coats and some essential toiletries. I don’t remember the eight boxes lasting very long.

Perhaps chalk that fact to the drunken dietary whims of a maladjusted undergrad, but many a moon later, I’ve never really grown out of the comfort food. I once tried to look around for a “healthier” and less dastardly option, but didn’t get too far. Bunnies and organic labeling aside, Annie’s sold to General Mills for $820 million a few years back. Last year, a study discovered that traces of carcinogenic phthalates were present in its popular “Shells and Real Aged Cheddar” pasta.

It all sounds kind of bleak for the boxed purists. But there are some decent options out there, from Banza, to Public Goods, to Goodles, a Gal Gadot-backed brand that I had the pleasure of sampling during the last week.

To be clear, Wonder Woman isn’t the CEO of Goodles, which is based in Santa Cruz, California. But Gadot’s listed on Goodles’ site as a “founding partner” (in addition to “lifelong mac & cheese lover and “the perfect teammate”), and her Instagram presence would suggest that she’s an investor/ardent fan of the year-old brand’s noodles.

I am too. I’ve tried four flavors thus far: Cheddy Mac, Twist My Parm, Shella Good and Mover & Shaker. (While the first three are self-explanatory, the last is described as a “cacio e pepe-inspired mac.”) The way I see it, any decent boxed mac and cheese needs to check three boxes:

  • Taste like you have sinned, but are better for it
  • Offer insultingly simple cooking instructions
  • Fill you up without having to eat too much

Goodles delivers on that criteria, and clearly knows it — its social media personality is rife with references to how life will never be the same for people who have tried its noodles (one post proclaims: “Bought it for my kids…haven’t shared it with them yet.”) But while I appreciate a lazy mac that tastes like my peak Kraft days, it’s nice to know that I can simulate the nostalgic ritual by way of a company that actually appears to give a shit.

Consider: this is a plant-based pasta, comprised of wheat flour, chickpea protein and wheat protein, which are baked with a heap of superfood extracts like kale, mushrooms and pumpkin. A bowl of Goodles probably shouldn’t be the cornerstone of an elite athlete’s diet anytime soon, let alone a superhero’s, but you could do much worse for a cheeky WFH lunch, a sick day pick-me-up or a late-night kitchen sesh than 15 grams of protein and 20% of your daily fiber recommendation.

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Critically, Goodles boxes come with those classic cheese blend pouches, which magically turn the whole pot orange with just a few stirs. The brand proudly explains the ingredients of its cheeses on its website. Some encouraging signs: the base is real cheese, they don’t use dyes and all of the components are pronounceable.

Some of these celeb-backed brands seem to have been designed with Gen Z in mind, who A) have a more fluid relationship to vegetarian alternatives (that’s to say they’re open-minded to different, “healthier” dishes without needing to forsake a food group forever), and B) like to feel part of a community. Goodles has the cool origin story, the fun celeb and a charitable angle, donating a portion of proceeds to World Central Kitchen.

But frankly, you don’t have to care about the lifestyle around Goodles to enjoy them. I tried the brand’s pasta on a lark, not entirely sure what to expect, and fully intend to stock up for the foreseeable future. Boxed mac and cheese is just a good thing to have around. No wonder there was a shortage of the stuff when the pandemic started. With Goodles, at least it’s hard to ever feel all that bad about easy mac.