Who Invented Velveeta Cheese and Why

This processed cheese can be ladled over nachos, added to omelets, used in macaroni cheese or served as a dip. It’s currently sold in the US, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines and Hong Kong. It was sold under the brand name ‘Velveta’ in the UK and Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.

This processed cheese stays clump-free when heated or melted. It was created in 1918 by Swiss immigrant Emil Frey at New York’s Monroe Cheese Company to tackle the problem of Swiss cheese wheels breaking and becoming unsellable. Velveeta was made with leftover bits of cheese by mixing then with whey which was a cheese-making byproduct. This is how Velveeta cheese was born.

The Velveeta Cheese Company was incorporated as a separate company in 1923, then sold to Kraft Foods in 1927. Back then it was advertised as a health food and it was actually the first cheese product to get the American Medical Association’s seal of approval. Kraft released Kraft singles in the 1950s so Velveeta was reformulated as a cheese spread in 1953 to avoid competition between the two products.

Original Velveeta Recipes

Past recipes from Kraft to encourage people to use Velveeta include making cold baked bean and Velveeta picnic sandwiches, combining it with chocolate to make chocolate fudge, pouring it over peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, and broiling it with cheese, peanut butter and pineapple sandwiches. None of those sound particularly appetizing today!

What’s It Make Of?

Velveeta used to be made with real cheese but today it’s made with milk protein and whey protein concentrate, meaning it’s technically not cheese. The FDA sent Kraft a warning letter in 2002 asking them to remove ‘cheese spread’ from their packaging, which is why it’s now known as ‘pasteurized prepared cheese product’ instead.

In January 2014, Kraft announced a Velveeta shortage just before the Super Bowl when over a million pounds of Velveeta Cheesy Skillets Singles were recalled because the packaging didn’t mention they contained hydrolyzed soy protein. Was this a publicity stunt? Kraft have always denied it.

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