For what it's worth, Paul Prudhomme, in his Seasoned America
cookbook, offers up his version of "San Francisco Rice"--rice browned with vermacelli, then simmered with seasonings. This of course is the dish upon which the original Rice-A-Roni (tm) was based. Prudhomme as always has taken some liberty with the seasonings, but his recipe does give the basics of the original.
You don't have to make it out of a box--so there.
Quaker Oats mucking up the original product idea that was so successful reminds me of what recently happened with my favorite antacid--Mylanta. Magnesium/aluminum hydroxide is never going to taste good, no matter what you do with it, but the original Mylanta managed to make it halfway palatable. Then they started mucking about with "new, improved" versions that tasted truly vile. The latest incarnation of the product is being touted as "Original Classic Flavor" with a little neck label that proclaims, "It's Back!" What they really mean is: "Our last five years of tinkering with success resulted in total crap. We're going back to what made us successful in the first place. Sorry about that!"
Now if we can just get Lay's Potato Chips to ditch the 5 tons of salt they started adding to every package as part of their "new, improved flavor" a couple of years ago.....