Panera Bread: The Infamous Mac & Cheese Dinner


Jack O'Neill

Panera Bread is a very popular chain restaurant around America and Canada that many people have come to love. Starting in a small, 400 square foot in Boston, Massachusetts, it has grown to over 2,300 stores across the two countries. Beginning as just a bakery, the store has expanded their menu over the years to now include foods such as soups, salads, sandwiches, and their famous mac and cheese. With that being said though, that mac and cheese has run into some controversy.

An employee of the company shared a video online went absolutely viral. Filmed on the app TikTok, the user @briannaraelenee showed how the popular food was actually made. She took a frozen package out of the mac and cheese out of a box, dipped it into steaming hot water, and then poured it out into a bowl, ready to serve. Revealing how they make their famous meal, it makes you wonder how the rest of the menu is put together as well.

The company was not very happy with this video surfacing. The employee who put it out was fired by the restaurant chain, but saying it was not for the video, but for health violations. This could be up for debate as it comes at an extremely odd time, but she was in fact violating the company’s rules. Panera also released a public statement, saying,

meet our standards for our clean menu offerings” (Panera Spokesperson). Also, they say that the “Mac and cheese is made off-site with our proprietary recipe developed by our chefs and using our sourced ingredients that food is shipped in frozen to leave out preservatives that would not be possible if it was cooked onsite. The question remains though, because why would the employee be fired now if they are so confident in the way they prepare their food?

The public had mixed reactions to the whole situation, but mainly, it was an outrage. Many people were not prepared to see how one of their favorite meals were made. I, myself, know that I will never be getting their mac and cheese again. The TikTok video will always be in the back of my mind when I go to order, and many feel the same way. But others were not surprised with the findings at all. A user on twitter tweeted, ​ “I don’t get what she’s exposing? Did people really think there was a chef hanging out in the kitchen of Panera Bread making their Mac and Cheese?” (Twitter). It makes sense as Panera is a very popular fast food chain, but the public before this had a very different perception on it.

No changes are expected to be made to the menu. Panera will stick to what has been working for them all these years, and with that, they still have a wide range of foods to purchase. The mac and cheese itself may never recover, but the company itself will do just fine.