There’s a lot to unpack here.   

By Corey Williams
October 14, 2019

Have you ever tasted Panera Bread’s rich and creamy mac and cheese? If you haven’t, you’re really missing out on a transcendent experience. It’s like biting into a gooey Vermont white cheddar-covered cloud.

Something that deliciously decadent must be made fresh every day by a kindly grandma using a generations-old family recipe … right?! WRONG.

A Panera employee allegedly lost her job after exposing the mac and cheese for what it really is: Frozen. *gasp*

I, for one, will stop patronizing this establishment immediately—just kidding, you could not get me to stop eating Panera’s mac and cheese if you tried.

Get the recipe: Copycat Panera Bread Mac and Cheese

The viral clip, which shows the bag of frozen mac and cheese being dropped into a vat of boiling water, is captioned, simply, “exposing panera.”

The company confirmed that the product is shipped frozen to restaurants. However, a representative said this practice helps the company avoid using certain preservatives. 

"(The) mac and cheese is made offsite with our proprietary recipe developed by our chefs and using our sourced ingredients that meet our standards for our clean menu offerings," a representative for Panera Bread said in an email. "It is shipped frozen to our bakery cafes—this allows us to avoid using certain preservatives that do not meet our clean standards."

Reactions to the video were mixed. Some TikTok users commented that Panera’s food is “glorified hospital food,” while others expressed shock and outrage.

“But... but I thought they cared about what they cooked,” wrote one commenter.

Many people weren’t surprised in the slightest by the video. 

“Do y’all think all food chain places have one chef that goes everywhere????? Obviously it’s frozen or it wouldn’t all taste the same,” one person bluntly commented. (I’m inclined to agree with this commenter, BTW. It’s a fast-casual chain, not a Michelin-rated restaurant. Just enjoy your $7 pasta). 

Whether or not this actually is a common practice, it appears Panera didn’t take kindly to being exposed on social media: The employee retweeted the clip with the comment “lol i lost my job for this video.”

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include comments from a Panera Bread representative. 

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