The History Of Macaroni Salad

Ah, a true American delicacy — macaroni salad. Although its roots fall in the southern states, it's made its way around the country. Made similarly to a potato salad, a macaroni salad features a tangy mayonnaise-based dressing. While everyone has their own favorite mix-ins, popular ones include chopped fresh vegetables such as red onion, celery, or bell pepper, hard-boiled eggs, and occasionally something with a bit of acidity such as pickles or cornichons (via Foodie Crush).

Ideal for any Southern potluck or summer picnic, macaroni salad has found a way to be creamy and crisp at the same time. This being said, if macaroni salad is not something you're familiar with, it may seem a bit unappetizing. Be sure not to knock it until you try it because there are some die-hard fans of it out there. Pasta salads, in general, have become a popular summer side dish all over the US. So, where did macaroni salad come from, and how did this combination of ingredients come to be?

A salad – made with macaroni?

When we think pasta, we think Italian. Macaroni, referred to here as short, cut, tube, or elbow-shaped pasta, does come from Italy. Macaroni salad, on the other hand, is an American creation, and it may be a dish that Italians wince at. Elbow macaroni became popular during the 1900s in America. Although the exact origins of macaroni salad are unknown, published recipes for it can be found as early as 1914 (via Dagostino Pasta).

According to Dagostino Pasta, there are theories that macaroni salad blends together two cultures or immigrants. The pasta comes from the Italians, while the mayo-based dressing is reminiscent of other German salads. With macaroni pasta being a cheap commodity at the time, using macaroni as a way to make a 'mock potato salad' was even promoted during the 1930s, according to the Food Timeline. Regardless of where it came from, this dish is now over a century old, and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Want to try some out for yourself? Be sure to check out this recipe!