Exclusive: Gal Gadot’s Goodles raises $13 million to move boxed mac and cheese beyond kids’ food
2023/09/11

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers!Coco Gauff wins the U.S. Open, Instacart's IPO takes shape, and Gal Gadot's mac-and-cheese brand Goodles brings on new investors. Have a productive Monday.

- Not just for kids. When actor Gal Gadot was considering various opportunities to partner with startups as a cofounder or brand representative, she found that many didn't resonate. Until she heard from Jen Zeszut, who had the idea to launch a new mac-and-cheese brand.

The pair first spoke in a meeting a few years ago that didn't lead to a partnership—but did end with Zeszut, the former CEO of early childhood nutrition company Cerebelly, asking what Gadot actually liked. One of her answers was "mac and cheese." She grew up eating the food in her native Israel, relying on American family members to deliver the boxed product during their visits. So when Zeszut proposed the idea to go all-in on mac and cheese, it felt authentic.

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"I just didn't want to do the obvious. I wanted to do something that was super truthful to me," Gadot says. "I even want to go more for that because it's so different and no one's gonna see me coming."

In late 2021, they launched Goodles, a more nutritious boxed mac-and-cheese brand that incorporates protein and fiber into its noodles. Today, Fortune is the first to report, Goodles has raised a $13 million Series A round led by the consumer private equity firm L Catterton. Other investors include Gingerbread Capital, Springdale, Third Craft Partners, and Willow Growth.

Goodles' mac and cheese costs around $4 a box with flavors ranging from classic cheddar to hatch green chile and truffle. The products are sold at 35,000 retail locations, including Target, Whole Foods, and Safeway stores.

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The brand is bringing on this funding to help it scale as it competes against major incumbents in the mac-and-cheese category: Kraft and Annie's. Much of Goodles' strategy has been a response to the reality of just how difficult it is to make inroads against those consumer-packaged-goods giants.

Truffle and hatch green chile, for example, are not flavors likely to much appeal to kids—the usual mac-and-cheese market. So Gadot and Zeszut decided to lean into mac-and-cheese for everyone, kids and adults, knowing that they and their friends ate the food alongside their children.

"Our incumbents have a $40 billion-plus market cap—so we can't play that game," says Zeszut. "We can't do better kids' commercials...They conceived of the market as 'mac and cheese is for kids—you open the bunny's tail to open the box.' We just said, 'We've got to do something different.'"

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