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Say cheese! Panera debuts mashup of 2 beloved menu items

TODAY logo TODAY 9/16/2020 Rachel Paula Abrahamson

If you have trouble deciding between the Mac & Cheese or the Broccoli Cheddar soup at Panera, we’ve got some grate news!

Starting today, the fast-casual chain is offering a mashup of the two beloved menu items so diners get the best of both worlds in one bowl.

According to a Panera spokesperson, the new Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese combines “two distinct cheddar cheese sauces” with seasoned broccoli florets and julienned carrots. As with all of the restaurant’s offerings, the gooey goodness contains no artificial ingredients.

a bowl of food: Panera's Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese is a mashup of two beloved menu items. (Panera) © Panera Panera's Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese is a mashup of two beloved menu items. (Panera)

In August, Panera introduced its Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese in grocery stores as part of its consumer packaged goods line Panera at Home. But as it started to grow in popularity in stores, the chain decided to also make it a menu item at cafes around the country.

Claes Petersson, head chef and chief food innovation officer at Panera, told TODAY Food he is "obsessed with the flavor combination" in his latest innovation.

“It’s an insanely craveable and irresistible creation that our customers nationwide are sure to love,” he said.

Singer-songwriter Michael Bolton, who recently partnered with brand, is already a fan of the two iconic dishes swirled into one. In fact, the Grammy winner, 67, wrote a song about it for Panera's YouTube channel.

Replay Video

To help celebrate the union of Broccoli Cheddar Soup and Mac & Cheese, Bolton released a parody of his 1991 ballad "When a Man Loves a Woman."

The music video, titled "When Some Mac Loves Broccoli Cheddar," features the singer belting lyrics so powerful, they could make even the most lactose intolerant among us tolerant, such as, “Yes, it’s soup on tender pasta/ It can do no wrong/ ‘Cause creamy cheese and broccoli loves macaroni.”

"I actually got a sneak peek yesterday of the Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese and it's delicious!" Bolton told TODAY.

Related: "That’s how almost all chain restaurants cook and serve their food. It’s called efficiency."

Before you ask, yes, there could be more food mashups in the future at Panera.

"This new launch could open the doors to more menu combinations and innovation in the future," a spokesperson said. "But we are testing first with two of our most beloved menu items."

In January, Panera pledged to make 50% of its menu vegan or vegetarian over the next several years, so we're predicting the next mashup menu item to be a French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese (not vegan, but vegetarian!). You heard it here first.


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