American CheeseBy burrger • Dec 14th, 2007 • Category: Burger Blog
A creation of the American food industry, American cheese is the extra indulgent aspect of the cheeseburger that clearly separates it from the primitive hamburger. What is a burger without a slice of American cheese?
How American Cheese Is Made
American Cheese is made by grinding up different kids of cheese, usually Swiss and cheddar types, then pasteurizing the resulting mixture to prevent any further microbial action. Various additives such as gums, emulsifiers and stabilizers are added, as well as milk solids or cream that enrich the cheese.
The result is a substance that is bland and smooth, with a uniform flavor and texture, good melting qualities, and a long shelf life. American Cheese is sold in rectangular one or two pound blocks, or packaged in square slices between sealed sheets of plastic wrap.
The Origins Of American Cheese
American Cheese was originally created in the early twentieth century by James L. Kraft, a Chicago cheese merchant, as a scientific approach to the mass marketing of cheese; and as the company he founded has become the world’s largest cheese manufacturer, his idea must be acknowledged as a commercial success.
Why American Cheese Is So Popular
The key to the success of American Cheese is that it eliminates the characteristics that makes cheese less appealing and saleable, while retaining the sensory attributes that make it more widely attractive.
Natural cheese has a rich flavor and strong smell that offends non-cheese eaters, it also has a very short shelf life and is very expensive to produce. American cheese is smooth and mild flavored, has almost no smell and can be produced for shockingly little money.
The appealing characteristics that American cheese capitalizes on are its golden color, its creamy and smooth texture, and more importantly for a cheeseburger, its heavenly melting character.
No matter how much of a bad image it has gained in recent years, the addiction of a slice of American cheese to the humble hamburger provides the extra sensory gratification that makes the cheeseburger so satisfying.
The cheese represents something more, something better, and something richer. It is an added bonus, an extravagant additional layer that is there to provide more pleasure and not because it is needed. The slice of American cheese is an affirmation of the total indulgence that the cheeseburger as a whole represents.
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