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Cartoon Culture

The Art of Designing Cartoon Pasta

Have you ever thought about the guy who designs all the pasta based on cartoon characters? Neither have I. But now we know who it is. It’s Guillermo Haro, a Mexican immigrant who has overseen the production of cartoon-shaped macaroni for 22 years at Kraft Foods. The Wall Street Journal explained how he does it:

Back at Kraft’s pilot plant, Mr. Haro was prepared to discuss his technique, while his boss, Ricardo Villota, stood by to keep him from spilling trade secrets. “If I can put it on paper, I can imagine how it’ll end up in a box,” said Mr. Haro, opening a guide to Spider-Man poses: crouching, leaping, dangling. “You choose the ones that are easy for pasta.”

He draws pencil sketches, knowing that all lines must connect, and not be too thick or thin. “You get carried away with detail,” he said. Mr. Haro was about to tell how he employs stubby lines to suggest eyeballs when Mr. Villota said, “Watch it!” and cut him off.

Moving to a computer, Mr. Haro showed how he had perfected a Ferb likeness, which he sent to De Mari Pasta Dies in Dracut, Mass. De Mari cast a die, from which Mr. Haro made a Ferb prototype, which he then sent to Disney for the ultimate noodle test: hot water. “They want it to look like they want it to look, before it’s cooked and after it’s cooked,” Mr. Haro said on his way downstairs to Kraft’s test kitchen. “Right up to launch day, you’re nervous.”

Guillermo Haro
Photo of cartoon pasta designer Guillermo Haro taken by Barry Newman/The Wall Street Journal.

  • Great story!

    I am a ‘cartoon pasta’ appreciater, now even more so. :)

  • Wasn’t Buitoni trailblazing this art form circa 1960 with green spinach flavored Popeye macaroni (and a little Thimble Theater toy inside each box to boot!)

    • Wow, Brew readers are always sharp, even when it comes to cartoon pasta. Right you are, Dave! I looked it up and found the box online:


  • Tom

    I HAVE actually wondered this! Great story.

  • J

    I, too, have wondered about creating those likenesses with pasta, and I don’t even like mac & cheese! I think pasta shapes generally turn out better than the corn puff or marshmallow cereal shapes since they can be more detailed and intricate, but I’m sure that there are also certain structural trade-offs that need to be made. But I didn’t realize that there was a primary pasta designer. Cool stuff!

  • Jake

    With the dynamic evident in this story, it’s a matter of time before Guillermo Haro is forced to make a flattering pasta noodle design based on Ricardo Villota.

  • Pedro Nakama

    When all of the animation jobs go to India, China and Canada I may be doing this.

    • Jennifer

      Doubt you have the talent.

  • Richard

    Can we scientifically prove why cartoon-character Mac & Cheese tastes better than regular Mac & Cheese yet?

    • Steven Finch, Attorney at Law

      I’ve pondered this very subject myself over the years, and the best conclusion I can come up with is that they hold the cheese better. Maybe…

      As a kid, I always thought the Wagon Wheels tasted better than the regular elbows. It’s a crime they stopped making them!

      • Tory

        They still make wagon wheels. You need to look harder.

  • Brad Constantine

    Art and Food…Haro is my Hero!

  • “Launch day” –Heh.

  • I always remember the Shnookums and Meat pasta which oddly had no meat in it.

  • [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Be considerate and respectful of others in the discussion. Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted.”]

  • My callback to SOUTH PARK was deleted.
    It was hilarious! No kiddin’.

  • kyle maloney

    I have wondered about this as a kid actually. Mainly when I couldn’t for the life of me see a likeness in the shape.

    And I’ve always wondered about those extra lines. For example, was that line connecting Garry’s swirl to the top of the shell really necessary? its already connected at the bottom.

    • Aditya Liviandi

      i think it’s to prevent the curl from flopping around when cooked.

  • Toonio

    Ironic how Kraft a.k.a. Phillip Morris keeps luring costumers with cartoon characters.

    Don’t get me wrong, this is one of those stories like where all those missing socks in the dryer go.

    • Larry

      You’re comparing macaroni and cheese to cigarettes?

  • Kevin

    That was a great, offbeat story. I’d like to see more stories about how licensing stuff makes it through the channels. It is such a huge part of the animation business. And yet few of us really know what goes on. And before you rip into me for pandering to the commercial aspects of animation, look at all those toys sitting next to your monitor.