The words “processed cheese” probably conjure visions of cellophane-wrapped slices from lunchbox days. But maybe expand your mind, just a bit.
According to Lloyd Metzger, a dairy scientist at South Dakota State University, however, it’s hard to define what exactly processed cheese is.
“You'll see terms like pasteurized, processed cheese, pasteurized processed cheese food, pasteurized processed cheese spread, and pasteurized processed cheese product,” Metzger says. “All of those products will be in the same category in the store. They'll look very much alike, but the ingredients and how those cheeses were made will vary dramatically. So it's a really hard question to answer.”
To understand processed cheese, Metzger offers a history lesson. Processed cheese, he says, was originally dreamed up by inventor James L. Kraft as a way to keep blocks of cheese fresh on his Chicago cheese wagon. And it’s not a uniquely American invention — Europeans, too, were experimenting with cheese processin