Each year, the nation gets its fix of the beloved pasta, macaroni, as we celebrate National Macaroni Day on July 7. This little elbow-shaped pasta is such a fan-favorite that it gets its own day of celebration. As it should! Apparently, macaroni is the most common form of pasta in the U.S. So on this day, let’s all come together to show our love for the humble and versatile macaroni.
History of National Macaroni Day
The origins of pasta, and macaroni, are not very clear. Records indicate pasta might have originated in China, instead of in Italy as is commonly believed.
The word ‘macaroni’ itself has had varied meanings to different people over time. The International Pasta Organisation traced the word to the Greeks who had established the colony of Neopolis (modern-day Naples). They had appropriated a local dish made from barley-flour pasta and water called ‘makaria.’ Cookbooks in the 14th or 15th century contained the initial mentions of macaroni-like dishes and how to make them, but these noodles were much longer than the short elbow macaroni we now use. Recipes in later centuries catered to the tastes and palettes of the regions they came from, and all were slightly different variations of the macaroni we know today.
As more of the world came into contact with various cultures, different types of pasta were introduced to the colonies. People began to fall in love with this doughy noodle. The American Ambassador to France, Thomas Jefferson, first tasted pasta in Naples, Italy. He even brought back a pasta-making machine to the U.S., and this inspired him to design a machine of his own, one with instructions for making pasta. The American love affair with pasta continued to boom throughout the 19th century.
National Macaroni Day timeline
The Greeks establish a colony in Naples and appropriate a local dish called ‘makaria,’ which might have been the inspiration for the word 'macaroni'.
Some food historians believe pasta originated in this period, in China.
Author and epicure Maestro Martino publishes a landmark cookbook, “Libro de Arte Coquinaria,” which contains several pasta dishes, some paired with cheese.
Thomas Jefferson brings a 'macaroni' maker to the U.S. after he visits Europe as the ambassador to France.
Author and food historian Paul Imhof believes the world's first commercial production of macaroni as we know it today — short, hollow, and elbow-shaped — was not in Italy but in Switzerland.
The predecessor to today's National Pasta Association — the National Association of Macaroni and Noodle Manufacturers of America — is formed.
National Macaroni Day FAQs
Is macaroni good for health?
The pasta is made from durum wheat, which is a good source of energy and carbs and even has small amounts of fiber. However, the presence of nutrients depends on the manufacturing process of the brand of pasta you choose.
What is the difference between pasta and macaroni?
The only thing differentiating all pasta from macaroni specifically is the shape. Macaroni has a distinctive tube-like shape and is bent like an elbow. Otherwise, even the dough to make pasta is traditionally the same.
Is there a Mac and Cheese Day?
Yes, National Mac and Cheese Day is celebrated on July 14 each year.
How To Celebrate National Macaroni Day
Experiment in the kitchen
This versatile ingredient can be used in everything from soups and casseroles to hot dishes and salads. So why not go wild experimenting with different ways to play with macaroni recipes. You can make a macaroni-crusted lasagna, a macaroni pizza with the base being baked mac and cheese, or even macaroni and cream dessert. Whether you are a vegetarian or a meat-lover, there is a fun macaroni recipe for everyone to try out.
Experiment outside the kitchen
Macaroni is not just for eating. There are ways to play with it too! For those with kids (or those who are kids at heart), make fun new art and craft projects with macaroni. You can dye the pasta in different colors and string them into jewelry or glue them onto boxes for a DIY decoration project. Let the kids go wild creating their own fabulous works of art!
Organize a macaroni cook-off
Challenge friends and family to a friendly macaroni-themed cook-off. The best macaroni dish wins. You can take this one step further and create categories for the most inventive recipes.
5 Fun Facts About Macaroni
Macaroni for breakfast
This pasta is traditionally eaten for breakfast in Hong Kong and is cooked with mushrooms, peas, ham, eggs, and chicken stock.
Macaroni is perfect for cheese
Purists swear by macaroni (and shell pasta) as the best pasta to pair with cheese because it has a bigger surface area for the cheese to hold on to compared to long pasta.
Macaroni as an insult
In the 1700s, fashionable men who wore expensive Italian clothes were called 'macaronies,' which is another word for 'dandies'.
The macaroni penguin
The distinctive yellow feathered crest on the macaroni penguin’s head that resembles the hats worn by fashionable men from the 1700s inspired this bird's name.
City rats love macaroni and cheese
A study by the Animal Behavior Society showed city-dwelling rats prefer macaroni and cheese above anything else.
Why We Love National Macaroni Day
It is a taste of childhood
This humble pasta has played a major role in our lives, appearing as comfort food, warming meals when we were sick, and as our kindergarten art. All pasta is mouthwatering, but there is something special about this elbow-shaped one that takes us straight back to our childhood and those fond memories.
It makes mealtimes easier
Making store-bought macaroni (and other pasta) is extremely easy. Many macaroni-based dishes can be cooked ahead and stored, making mealtimes much less stressful. Macaroni can also be used to stretch the quantity of food to feed more people.
It is oh so delicious
This pasta goes with a lot of different cuisines and ingredients with absolutely no problem and makes it taste even better. On its own, macaroni looks unassuming, but the right flavors turn a simple dish into a powerhouse. We love how this pasta makes us feel like master chefs with very little effort.
National Macaroni Day dates