Your perfect square shape. Your plastic wrap so satisfying to open. Your perfect stickiness to the roof of my mouth. Your reliable, consistent, comforting, fake taste. You make me feel so……American.
According to the great blog, Cheese is Alive:
“American cheese has a legal definition. It is legal for it to have as little as 51% cheese . The rest is emulsifiers, enzymes, coloring, pixie dust , eye of newt and a wee pinch of despair. Velveeta is less than 51% cheese. I don’t know what’s in Velveeta. My guess is unadulterated evil and the tears of the innocent, but I could be wrong.”
American Cheese, according to Wikipedia, has the following origins:
British colonists began making cheddar as soon as they arrived in America. By 1790, American cheddars were being exported back to England. The British referred to American cheddar as “American cheese,” or “Yankee cheese,” and post-Revolution Americans promoted this usage to distinguish the exports of their proud new nation from European cheese. For example, an 1878 newspaper article in The New York Times lists the total export of American cheese at 355 million pounds per year, with an expected growth to 1,420 million pounds.
Originally, the British considered American cheese inferior in quality; still, it was relatively cheap, so it sold. This connotation of the term American cheese became entrenched in Europe even after the Americans began producing quality cheese. Another article from 1878 mentions that the high quality American cheese is usually re-labelled under European names after export, with only low grade cheese retaining American labelling in Europe. It also states that even in the United States quality American cheese is often relabelled, etc, and that this situation is a detriment to the reputation of American cheesemakers. This practice may be in part responsible for the name “American cheese” being synonymous with bland, low quality cheese.
“American Cheese” continued to refer to American cheddar until the advent of the processed cheese that now commands the title. Meanwhile, Americans themselves referred to their cheddar as “yellow cheese” or “store cheese,” because of its popularity and availability. Sometimes it was called “apple-pie cheese,” after its common pairing with that other iconic American food. By the 1890s, once cheese factories had sprung up across the nation, American cheddar was also referred to as “factory cheese.” And in the 1920s another slang term arose for the still popular cheese: “rattrap cheese,” or “rat cheese.”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines American cheese as a “cheese of cheddar type, made in the U.S.” and lists 1804 as the first known usage of “American cheese,” occurring in the Frankfort, Kentucky newspaper Guardian of Freedom. The next usage given is in 1860 by Charles Dickens in his series The Uncommercial Traveller.
For More on American Cheese, visit the great blog: after cheese comes nothing.
Happy 4th of July and enjoy some REAL cheese!