Mac & Cheese Necklace Stirs Demand for St. Paul Jewelry Brand
Courtesy of Panera

Mac & Cheese Necklace Stirs Demand for St. Paul Jewelry Brand

Panera's golden noodle necklace went viral, and now other national brands want Delicacies Jewelry to turn their food products to gold.

The macaroni necklace—long a pre-school favorite—just got a gold-plated update inspired by Panera’s new grilled mac & cheese sandwich. Americans are apparently hungry for fine jewelry that reflects cheesy pasta, and the St. Paul-based jewelry brand that created it is riding the viral hit toward more national brand partnerships.

Panera commissioned the golden noodle necklace from Delicacies Jewelry. The small brand was the brainchild of Nicolle Nelson who had the idea in 2013 to create “tasteful jewelry for people who love food.” Launched by Nelson and her husband John Larson in 2015, Delicacies got an early boost from the couple’s relationship with TV chef Andrew Zimmern—Larson was his business manager and a founding partner in Zimmern’s television production company Intuitive Content. Nelson previously worked in public relations, which helped in spreading the word about the food-inspired jewelry company, which donates 10 percent of profits to fight hunger. St. Paul’s Loaves & Fishes is a current recipient.

“Panera is committed to fighting hunger, and I think that aligned beautifully with the fact that we’ve been fighting hunger since Day one,” Larson said.

The restaurant chain held a drawing this week to give away 500 of the gilded pieces, valued at $200 each. The contest went viral, and Larson described demand as “overwhelming.” Panera ordered up more mac & cheese necklaces, which will be available for sale starting in November.

Now other national brands are asking Delicacies to turn their top food products into gold. “We’ve been pitching brands for years, and continue to believe this will be the next generation merchandise for food brands looking to elevate their merch,” Larson said. “How many phone cases and pool floaties can a brand do?”

The mac & cheese necklace is hardly Delicacies first foray into pasta. In addition to its own noodle designs, Delicacies created its Al Dente Collection with Barilla pasta brand. think: farfalle earrings; penne necklaces.

Delicacies is riding—or perhaps creating—a growing trend in promotional food jewelry. In addition to Barilla, the company partnered with Morton Salt on a Salty Collection, which features blue enamel plated salt canisters among its designs. A new Dumpling Collection just launched with New York’s Welcome to Chinatown organization and Larson said it’s been a big hit—largely due to the tangible charitable tie-in: every necklace purchase directly donates $10 to fight hunger in New York’s Chinatown neighborhood by purchasing food directly from local restaurants and using their volunteer network to deliver meals to elderly and food insecure people.

The requests from other big brands are coming quicker on the heels of the Panera necklace. Larson said he and Nelson are scheduled to speak to “several” nationals in the coming weeks. “We’re being more selective,” Larson said, “to make sure anything we launch is a hit”