Who invented American Cheese?

Hello, all! I’m new here, so bear with me!

Recently, my friends and I were discussing the un-merits of American Cheese. Apparently, most of them think it’s disgusting, but all of us wonder where it was invented and by whome (Someone actually suggested it was invented in Canada!)

And while we’re at it, is all American Cheese “Processed, Pasturized Cheese Food Product” or just Velveeta?



Welcome aboard!

Since cheese already existed in the Old World, I think it’s fair to assume that noone invented “american cheese”. Or is there something that I’m missing? Is this a specific sort of cheese that’s unique to the US?

Well, American Cheese as known in the US is usually yellow (but does come in a white variety), blandish and is almost always used for grilled cheese sandwhiches. You can ask for it by name (“American Cheese”) and Velveeta seems to be the #1 distributor (remember the ads? Velveeta melts better?) That’s the cheese I mean!

Coldfire, don’t they have American cheese in the Netherlands? Maybe it’s called by a different name in different parts of the world. It comes in flat, square, individually wrapped (usually) slices and we in the U.S. most commonly use it to make grillled cheese sandwiches. No idea who invented it, though.

Well, there’s American cheese and there’s American cheese.

American cheese is really just a very mild cheddar. It can be good, if not especially flavorful – just get some at the deli instead of pre-packaged in the dairy aisle. I don’t know, however, when the appelation “American” attached to this kind of cheese.

Oops, gbrisson2000 beat me to it. It’s also the kind of cheese used on burgers at most chains (McDonald’s, Burger King, etc.).

Traditionally “American Cheese” refers to a very mild type of cheddar cheese. It’s hard to find these days but it would be similar to “mild cheddar” or “Monterey Jack”. The crap you buy in the grocery store is “Process American Cheese”. The first process cheese was made in Switzerland in 1911 but really took off when James Kraft started making it in Chicago in 1912.

Cecil Adams on Process cheese:

From http://www.lovechef.com/foodweek/frCheeseFeature.html

The first American cheeses were brick cheese, invented in Wisconsin in 1877, and Liederkranz, produced in New York State since 1892.

From http://members.tripod.com/~FCFA/essay.html

One source I found says James Kraft first introduced process cheese in Canada in 1915, not Chicago in 1912. If true, there’s your Canada connection. Kraft’s website incates they started making process cheese in 1915 in Stockton Illinois. If the Canadian connection is real, it’s my WAG that their first customer was the Canadian armed forces. Canadians were already fighting in Europe by 1915, but America wouldn’t join the war until 1917.

Thanks everyone! :slight_smile: That’s enough info to satisfy my brief curiosity!


I would draw a distinction between American cheese and Velveeta. Though both are used for melting, oftentimes (and melt much better than a lot of cheeses), Velveeta is almost more of a cheese spread, while American cheese has a sturdier consistency. American cheese is also my dog’s favorite food.

From http://www.cebco.com/spring.html

Further notes from the field: