Disney Parks is no stranger to pushing culinary boundaries, but the company behind the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser's blue shrimp cocktail and Magic Kingdom Park's tentacle-filled michelada may very well be serving their most polarizing item ever: Peanut butter and jelly mac and cheese.
But are those who call the dish nutty correct in their assumptions? Or are those opposed to this culinary delight just … jelly?
Disneyland put Peanut Butter and Jelly Mac on the menu at the annual Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival in early March when the festival began. As the dish has grown in popularity, they've even shared how to make the dish, described as a peanut butter and jelly macaroni topped with brown sugar streusel and strawberry crackle, at home. A post on the Disney Parks Blog reads,"If you love peanut butter and jelly and mac and cheese, then you simply must give your tastebuds the honor of trying this delicious dish ... and you're in luck because you can now whip up this mac in the comfort of your own home."
The recipe, which includes elbow macaroni, strawberry jam, peanut butter and Pop Rocks-style candy, serves four to six people, a value considering the in-person version costs $8.25 at the festival's Nuts About Cheese booth.
Although the pasta hails from a cheese-themed booth and appears to be structured like traditional macaroni and cheese, there's no cheese to be found in the sweet-and-savory treat. In fact, inspiration for the dish leans more toward the PB&J sandwiches of our childhood.
"The Peanut Butter and Jelly Mac from Nuts About Cheese was inspired by the kid in all of us," Jimmy Weita, the chef de cuisine for special events and festivals at Disneyland Resort tells Yahoo Life. "I grew up eating grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, [which are] probably a Midwest thing, and I wanted to recreate that flavor profile and comfort you get when you bite into that gooey melty peanut butter sandwich."
"And the addition of the strawberry crackle?" Weita says of the Pop Rocks-style candy topping. "Well, that's just some Disney magic. Although it may seem to be an odd combination of ingredients, once you take that first bite, it's as good, if not better, than the best PB&J you've ever had."
Despite Weita's conviction that news of the dish is worth spreading around, the internet has been divided about this Disney delicacy.
"This is the probably most-weird mac that I have ever had and it wasn't bad at all: Think of it as a dessert pasta dish," posted Marc Contreras, a food and travel blogger who recently tasted the dish. "I personally couldn't get this again. To me, it is a one-and-done for the novelty."
When Attractions Magazine tweeted about the dish, followers were more than a little nervous about the prospect of trying it.
"This picture gave me diarrhea,"said one Twitter user.
"There's some foods that just do not need to meet," wrote another.
Still Undercover Tourist, a theme park discount ticket site, wasn't mad about the dish at all.
Love it or hate it? ➡️ Peanut Butter and Jelly Mac and Cheese at #DisneyCaliforniaFoodAndWine. 👍 👎
Frog Family take? 🐸 We wanted to hate it but it was actually a fun surprise. We liked the pop rocks and the crunchy peanuts! pic.twitter.com/OGi5ZNmbL3
— Undercover Tourist (@ThemeParkFrog) March 5, 2022
"We wanted to hate it," they tweeted, "but it was actually a fun surprise."
So, how does this nutty cousin of traditional mac and cheese really taste? Much to our surprise, it was delicious. The crackle on top was a bit overwhelming at first but once we mixed it together it was a perfect blend of sweet and savory. And, the creaminess of the noodles didn't give off a milk-forward vibe: We didn't detect any cheese but instead found the pasta dish to be heavy on the savory peanut flavoring.
The dish has notes of a Thai-inspired peanut satay but with extra layers of flavor thanks to the streusel and Pop Rocks. "It tastes like Thai peanut sauce meeting a childhood favorite," said the friend I shared it with.
Our verdict: Chef Weita's not wrong. It's the elevated peanut butter and jelly sandwich we never knew we needed.
But the Peanut Butter and Jelly Mac isn't the only Food and Wine Festival food selection that has left people timid and a bit confused, there's also a Frozen Guacamole ice pop-style treat. To our surprise, we loved this one as well. The cool and creamy ice pop was avocado flavored while the topping of pico de gallo rounded out the flavor of a traditional guacamole, albeit in frozen form.
Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival is taking place now through April 26. Outdoor food kitchens are scattered throughout the Southern California theme park and feature dozens of creative culinary bites and sips. The festival is included with park admission with food and beverage items available for purchase once inside the gates. With options that include everything from avocado toast to a Cubano slider, there are plenty of twists on childhood favorites that have everyone talking.
Craving mac and cheese but won't be visiting Disneyland in the near future? The park's Cozy Cone Motel serves bacon mac and cheese in a bread cone. Feeling a bit more wild? There's always Disneyland's fried pickle corn dog covered in pancake batter, available outside the parks at Downtown Disney's Blue Ribbon Corn Dogs cart.
This story was originally published on March 11, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. ET and has been updated.
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