If the man wants to talk about hating cheese, then that’s what he should do, without comments that make light of that dislike.
So Cheez Wiz. I was in the $+ store today to get some random things. I know the manager there from talking about purple shampoo ($20 at a reg store, $25 at the hair salon, $3 at the dollar+ ). She was moving some stock around and was trying to convince me to buy 6 jars of cheez wiz really really cheap since she didn't want to find shelf space for it. mmm no thanks. don't tell Set.
Southworth had been part of the team that created Cheez Whiz in the early 1950s. The mission had been to come up with a speedy alternative to the cheese sauce used in making Welsh rarebit, a popular but laborious dish that required a half-hour or more of cooking before it could be poured over toast. It took them a year and a half of sustained effort to get the flavor right, but when they did, they succeeded in creating one of the first megahits in convenience foods. Southworth and his wife, Betty, became lifelong fans and made it part of their daily routine. “We used it on toast, muffins, baked potatoes,” he told me. “It was a nice spreadable, with a nice flavor. And it went well at night with crackers and a little martini. It went down very, very nicely, if you wanted to be civilized.”
So it was with considerable alarm that he turned to his wife one evening in 2001, having just sampled a jar of Cheez Whiz he’d picked up at the local Winn-Dixie supermarket. “I said, ‘Holy God, it tastes like axle grease.’ I looked at the label and I said, ‘What the hell did they do?’ I called up Kraft, using the 800 number for consumer complaints, and I told them, ‘You are putting out a goddamn axle grease!’ ”
Cheez Whiz was already something of a horror to nutritionists. A single serving, which Kraft defined as just two level tablespoons, delivered nearly a third of a day’s recommended maximum of saturated fat as well as a third of the maximum sodium recommended for a majority of American adults. Sit down with a drink in front of the TV and start heaping it onto salty, buttery crackers, and both daily limits would quickly be blown.
As for its taste, Southworth conceded that the spread had never been in the same league as a fine English Stilton. But it hadn’t pretended, even wanted to be. In the laboratories at Kraft, in fact, Cheez Whiz had been designed to have the mildest flavor possible for the broadest public appeal. Upon its release on July 1, 1953, the advertising emphasized its expediency, not its taste: “Cheese treats QUICK. Spoon it, heat it, spread it.”
Nonetheless, in his kitchen that day, Southworth knew that something had changed. Staring at the label, parsing the list of ingredients, he eventually found the culprit, though not without some effort. There were 27 items listed in all, starting with the watery by-product of milk called whey, taking him through canola oil, corn syrup, and an additive called milk protein concentrate, which manufacturers had begun importing from other countries as a cost-cutting alternative to the higher-priced powdered milk produced by American dairies. One crucial ingredient was missing, however. From its earliest days, Cheez Whiz always contained real cheese. Real cheese gave it class and legitimacy, Southworth said, not to mention flavor. Now, he discovered, not only was cheese no longer prominently listed as an ingredient, it wasn’t listed at all.
Not surprisingly, Kraft kept this change to itself. I couldn’t find any public discussion of it even nine years later, when Southworth related his story to me. So during a visit to Kraft’s headquarters in 2011, I asked if he was right, if Kraft in fact had taken the cheese out of Cheez Whiz. Actually, a spokeswoman told me, there was still some cheese left in the formula, just not as much as there used to be. When I asked how much, she declined to say. It no longer appeared on the label, she added, because Kraft — in attempting to simplify its long lists of ingredients — had switched from citing components, like cheese, to listing their parts, like milk. “We made adjustments in dairy sourcing that resulted in less cheese being used,” she told me. “However, with any reformulation, we work hard to ensure that the product continues to deliver the taste that our consumers expect.”
Southworth was more blunt in his assessment of what happened to his creation. “I imagine it’s a marketing and profit thing,” he said. “If you don’t have to use cheese, which has to be kept in storage for a certain length of time in order to become usable, flavor-wise and texture-wise, then you’ve eliminated the cost of storage, and there is more to the profit center.”
Like many American products, Cheez Whiz would make its way to the Philippines in 1967, changing the merienda scene ever since. Oddly enough it is marketed here for its “health benefits” in spite of its notoriously unhealthy reputation elsewhere, especially as Kraft decreased its actual cheese content in 2013. No matter; we’d be lying if we didn’t say it’s absolutely delicious, and to this day it remains as popular in the Philippines as it’s always been.
Now, the thing with people just grabbing a pregnant woman’s belly is sure true. I’ve seen that. WTF?
Kraft — in attempting to simplify its long lists of ingredients — had switched from citing components, like cheese, to listing their parts, like milk. “We made adjustments in dairy sourcing that resulted in less cheese being used,