Print Edition: September 12, 2012
Note: If you’re interested in delving further into the history of the dish, check out Sasha Chapman’s recent article for The Walrus entitled Manufacturing Taste.
I’ve taken a few psychology classes in my day. It’s a by-product of a complete and total unwillingness to actually finish my degree and become an adult. In any case, I’ve learned a few different methods of psychological analysis. I find most of them, quite frankly, are complete crap.
Dream analysis? As if my night-time visions of Channing Tatum mean anything about my psyche? Come on!
I will admit that trudging through life without any aid to comprehending yourself or your fellow human is a perilous idea at best. How are you supposed to understand what kind of person someone is if you don’t have some simple way to analyze the deep reaches of their soul?
So, to those of you who haven’t taken any psychology and don’t spend your time quoting Jung and Freud, here’s what I do: if I want to figure out what kind of person someone is, I look no further than their Kraft Dinner (KD) habits. Yes, I feel that these heavenly tubes of synthetically cheesy, fake orangey goodness are truly the windows to our inner selves.
Before you laugh, let’s pause to think about it for a minute. It’s pretty much the great equalizer: do you know anyone who hasn’t had Kraft Dinner? Even culinary Luddites have probably made it, and it’s economical enough that no one omits it from their diet based on price. It’s pretty ubiquitous.
Thus, it’s a great standard for analyzing people.
Here’s an example, using my dating life. In a misguided search for affection in high school, I may or may not have dated the older brother of one of my best friends (note to readers: don’t do this. It’s not worth it). He was a bit of a tool (he did date one of his little sister’s best friends, after all), but he was out of high school and, like, totally super cool. I should have been scared away by his Kraft dinner habits: his preparation method was to put everything in one pot (noodles, milk, questionable cheese powder, butter, salt and some water), then cover the pot with a lid, throw it on high, and leave it until it boiled over in a congealed, crusty mess. He’d then eat it out of the pot with a fork. Huh?
It should come as no surprise that he was too lazy to read instructions, never cleaned up after himself, and was unequivocally stupid. Stop judging me, please. I was 17, and he had a car and could buy liquor.
As a parallel, my current sidekick has only made KD around me once: it was when I was laid up with a back injury and couldn’t stand up long enough to get myself a glass of water. He made it to my exacting specifications (get rid of some noodles, use only a little bit of butter, and add more milk than is strictly necessary). This proves a couple things: one, he listens to me when I tell him what to do. Or maybe it means that he respects me or something. Two, he’s honest enough about his faults to acknowledge that the cooking of even something so simple as Kraft Dinner is best left to me. The combination has worked for us; we’ve been together for seven years.
There are many more aspects to this tool for analysis: does the subject eat it out of the pot, or transfer it to a bowl? This has obvious implications into their time management skills; if they’d rather do two dishes than one they clearly have too much time on their hands. Do they always mix it with a can of chili? This could mean a few things – maybe they have some weird fart fetish. Stay away. Do they put one noodle on each fork tine before consumption? This likely alludes to a lack of a hobby (translation: these people are stage-one clingers). Do they use a noodle to slurp the milk out of the spoon? Are they strictly a spiral person? Do they get the creepy flavours that get released every now and then (sundried tomato, I’m looking at you)?
Yes, I’ve given you two small examples, but I urge you to use this analysis tool in your daily lives, readers. And, as I learned with that high school boyfriend of mine, don’t ignore what the Kraft Dinner habits tell you. KD doesn’t lie, kids. It doesn’t lie.