Cheese Food
Posted: 21 March 2008 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I have just watched an interesting documentary on the history of cheese in the Modern Marvels series. Apparently many medieval monks drank 5 litres of ale a day (I’d have visions too) and experimented with cheese to add piquancy to the otherwise plain fare they had to subsist on.
Anyway, there was a brief shot of pre-WW2 Kraft cheese boxes and one said VELVEETA A Delicious Cheese Food. Why the Food qualification? Were they legally obliged to distinguish between fresh and processed cheese? Or maybe Kraft thought the word processed sounded unappetizing (like GM does to some these days) and so avoided it but why not then just call it Cheese?
Many cheese purists disdain processed cheese ("Kraft Krap") so maybe this too was a factor.

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Posted: 21 March 2008 10:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Processed cheese:

Due to the processing and additives, some softer varieties cannot legally be labeled as “cheese” in many countries, including the United States and Britain, and so are sold as “cheese food”, “cheese spread”, or “cheese product”, depending primarily on the amount of cheese, moisture, and milkfat present in the final product.

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Posted: 21 March 2008 11:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thanks, LH. I’d thought it might be more complicated than that. Smart boy wanted :(

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Posted: 21 March 2008 12:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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It still raises a question about pre-WWII “cheese food.” Presumably the current regulations were not in force back then. I would suspect that federal food labeling regulations were non-existent during that era.

I do know that into the 1980s, the state of Pennsylvania had the most rigorous food safety regulations of any state. The label “Reg. Penna. Dept. of Agriculture” used to appear on a lot of food labels. If a product could pass muster in Pennsylvania, it could be sold anywhere in the US. There may have been state regulations that prohibited it from being called plain “cheese.”

And growing up the “American cheese” we got from the deli around the corner was a mild, pale-white cheddar, similar to provolone, not the processed Kraft plastic.

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Posted: 21 March 2008 03:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Here’s a 1930 vintage print ad for Velveeta calling it “the delicious new cheese food”: (link). James L Kraft got his first US patent (1,186,524) for a “process to sterilize cheese and an improved product produced by such process” on June 6, 1916.

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Posted: 21 March 2008 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Either because Kraft changed the recipe or the government changed the definitions, Velveeta is no longer a “cheese food” (strange term, sounds like it’s what cheese eats).  We had a lengthy discussion of the various kinds of unreal cheese (with links to the regulations) in this old thread: American Cheese.

BTW, federal regulation of food labeling goes back to 1906 and was tightened up in 1938, so there definitely were such regulations in the pre-WWII era.

[ Edited: 21 March 2008 06:08 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 22 March 2008 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Fascinating links, jheem and Dr T. I was thinking later that Kraft would have better marketed it as a “Cheese Treat” which they did in jheem’s ad link (but not on the box) or even “Cheese Experience” but this is probably too recent. Cheese Food certainly sounds bizarre and off-putting these days.
The advertising copy from 1930 (in jheem’s link) is purely factual, aimed at housewives, and nothing like Sinclair Lewis’s parody (targeting males) which it reminded me of, in Babbit (1922), of a tobacco and a car:

‘It’s P.A. that jams such joy in jimmy pipes. Say--bet you’ve often bent-an-ear to that spill-of-speech about hopping from five to f-i-f-t-y p-e-r by “stepping on her a bit!” Guess that’s going some, all right--BUT just among ourselves, you better start a rapidwhiz system to keep tabs as to how fast you’ll buzz from low smoke spirits to TIP-TOP-HIGH--once you line up behind a jimmy pipe that’s all aglow with that peach-of-a-pal, Prince Albert.
Prince Albert is john-on-the-job--always joy’usly more-ISH in flavor; always delightfully cool and fragrant! For a fact, you never hooked such double-decked, copper-riveted. two-fisted smoke enjoyment!
Go to a pipe--speed-o-quick like you light on a good thing! Why--packed with Prince Albert you can play a joy’us jimmy straight across the boards! AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!“‘

‘The long white trail is calling--calling-and it’s over the hills and far away for every man or woman that has red blood in his veins and on his lips the ancient song of the buccaneers. It’s away with dull drudging, and a fig for care. Speed--glorious Speed--it’s more than just a moment’s exhilaration--it’s Life for you and me! This great new truth the makers of the Zeeco Car have considered as much as price and style. It’s fleet as the antelope, smooth as the glide of a swallow, yet powerful as the charge of a bull-elephant. Class breathes in every line. Listen, brother! You’ll never know what the high art of hiking is till you TRY LIFE’S ZIPPINGEST ZEST--THE ZEECO!’

[ Edited: 22 March 2008 11:14 AM by venomousbede ]
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Posted: 07 May 2011 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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From wikipedia, I get the following information about Processed cheese.

Processed cheese, process cheese, cheese slice, prepared cheese, or cheese food is a food product made from normal cheese and sometimes other unfermented dairy ingredients, plus emulsifiers, extra salt, food colorings, or whey. Many flavors, colors, and textures of processed cheese exist.
In the United States, the most recognizable variety of processed cheese is sold under the name American cheese, although this name also has other meanings. The name American cheese also has a legal definition as a type of pasteurized processed cheese under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.
The Laughing Cow is an example of processed cheese. Caterers London

Although processed cheese was first invented in 1911 by Walter Gerber of Thun, Switzerland, it was James L. Kraft who first applied for an American patent for his method in 1916. Kraft Foods also created the first commercially available sliced processed cheese, which was introduced in 1950. This form of sliced cheese and its derivatives have become commonplace in the United States, most notably used for cheeseburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches. I have launched a business that serves Office catering London and want to include this item. Hope it will increase my sell.

[ Edited: 19 December 2012 12:22 PM by JesseDaniel56 ]
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Posted: 09 May 2011 05:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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‘It’s P.A. that jams such joy in jimmy pipes. Say--bet you’ve often bent-an-ear to that spill-of-speech about hopping from five to f-i-f-t-y p-e-r by “stepping on her a bit!...”

That paragraph reads like a Google translation.

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