Cheez Whiz, a product of Kraft, is one of the most popular cheese spreads in the United States. It is the yellowish-orange, gooey, and bland-tasting cheese product that is always present in Super Bowl parties or even just on regular snacking at home, used as spread and dip. But have you ever wondered why Cheez Whiz was invented, and is there really cheese in it?
History of Cheez Whiz
Cheez Whiz was not originally created for palates in the United States but for the British market instead, as a shortcut in making their traditional dish that is called Welsh rarebit.
It was in 1911 when Swiss cheese makers first developed commercially processed cheese. As stated by Scientists, Walter Gerbe and Fritz Stettler tried to create a way to make cheese last longer and not spoil quickly. They used the native Emmentaler cheese to produce something that is halfway between cheese and milk and has a much longer shelf life by shredding it, heating, and adding sodium citrate or sour salt to it.
Though it was invented by Swiss innovators, it’s James L. Kraft, a Canadian, who hold the first US patent for processed cheese. Based on Kraft’s 1916 patent, his intention was to find a way to keep cheese indefinitely without spoiling. It was unknown if Kraft knew about Gerbe and Stettler’s innovation but he mostly followed the Swiss formula by slicing, heating, and stirring the cheese to achieve sterilization. But not included in Kraft’s patent was the addition of sodium citrate or he just wants to hide his secret.
After a year when Kraft’s formula was patented, six million pounds of his processed cheese was bought by the Army to send overseas to American soldiers who were fighting in the Word War I. Because of this, Kraft cheese instantly became famous to a whole generation of young American men.
Kraft Cheese became a worldwide brand after two and a half decades. It introduced the “Kraft Single” in 1950 which made their cheese sales increase by 150 percent. They looked into further expanding their market that’s why they took their processed cheese to Britain.
As stated earlier, Cheez Whiz was created as a shortcut in making the English dish called Welsh rarebit, which is popular in the 18th century England. It is a simple tavern food that is created by pouring cheddar cheese sauce over a hearty toast. It may sound easy but creating the cheese sauce for it can be tough and tedious because of all the melting and stirring. But Kraft figured that there can be an easy way.
In 1950, Kraft started to develop a pre-packaged cheese sauce to use on Welsh rarebit. With the help of food scientists including Edward Traisman, they came up with Cheeze Whiz, which is a mild tasting cheese sauce that goes well with the Welsh rarebit dish. It instantly became a hit when they introduced it to Britain in 1952.
After a year, Cheez Whiz came to the United States which forever etched its cheesy name in the American food history.
The Cheese in Cheez Whiz
Cheez Whiz indeed has a great reputation, and it was in fact, made with real cheese. But you might be surprised if we tell you that it has been changed recently.
Based on Dean Southworth, who used to be a member of Traisman’s team in developing Cheez Whiz in the 1950’s, the original one was nice, spreadable, and has a nice flavor. However, when he had purchased one from the store back in 2001, he noticed that it tastes like axle grease and that something had changes in that jar of Cheez Whiz compared to the last he had purchased.
He confirmed it when he looked at the ingredients list, because the Cheez Whiz sold in the United States today does not list cheese in the ingredients anymore. Instead, there are 27 other ingredients listed including whey, corn syrup, and milk protein concentrate which is a cheaper alternative to higher-priced powdered milk.
In 2013, Southworth approached a Kraft spokeswoman and she told him that there was still cheese in the Whiz but much less compared to how much there was before. He asked her how much real cheese was included, but she declined to answer the question. She explained that cheese is no longer listed in the ingredients because it already listed the necessary parts of processed cheese such as milk, sodium phosphate and cheese cultures.
Though the ingredients in making Cheez Whiz have changed, it still remains as one of the most popular cheese spreads and dips available in the market today. And even when cheese is no longer listed on the ingredients in Cheez Whiz, apparently, it is still part of the production process.