Processed cheese, American cheese, whatever you call it, is the dollar store of cheeses. Sure, it tastes good on a grilled cheese or on top of a burger, but it’s the chicken nugget of cheese.
Processed cheese, according to the FDA, is a “food product” made from regular cheese and sometimes other unfermented dairy ingredients, plus emulsifiers, extra salt, and food colorings. It was developed as a way of staving off the usual perishability that all foods have. Processed cheese has the capability to last almost indefinitely.
Walter Gerber was the first person to invent processed cheese in 1911 in Thun, Switzerland, but James L. Kraft (of Kraft Foods), seeing that the cheese hadn’t been patented, applied for an American patent in 1916. In 1917 he supplied to the US Armed forces the first batch of Kraft canned cheese for soldiers fighting in Europe during World War I. In addition, the Kraft Company also developed a process for producing sliced processed cheese and a machine that individually wrapped slices of cheese. 1The info for this post came from Kraft’s website and from Wikipedia
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