In the ever-evolving world of culinary delights, there’s one product that has stood the test of time, gracing grocery store shelves and kitchen pantries alike — Cheez Whiz.
This bright yellow, gooey concoction may raise eyebrows among cheese connoisseurs, yet it holds a beloved spot in American food culture, particularly in the iconic Philly cheesesteak.
But what exactly is Cheez Whiz? Where did it come from, and how did it become so popular?
In this post, we’ll delve into the intriguing history of Cheez Whiz, demystifying its ingredients, exploring its origins, and understanding its enduring appeal.
Quick Facts About Cheez Whiz
|Origin||Cheez Whiz was created by Kraft Foods and introduced in the United States in 1952.|
|Main Ingredients||Whey, canola oil, milk, milk protein concentrate, maltodextrin, sodium phosphate, contains less than 2% of whey protein concentrate, salt, lactic acid, sodium alginate, mustard flour, Worcestershire sauce, sorbic acid as a preservative, milkfat, cheese culture, oleoresin paprika (color), annatto (color), natural flavor, enzymes.|
|Calories||There are approximately 80 calories in a 2 tablespoon serving of Cheez Whiz.|
|Uses||Popular for use in Philly cheesesteaks, as a dip for chips, crackers and vegetables, and as a topping for hot dogs, nachos, and more.|
|Taste||Cheez Whiz has a distinct tangy and salty taste with a creamy texture.|
|Shelf Life||An unopened jar of Cheez Whiz can last up to 6 months when stored properly. Once opened, it should be used within 3-4 weeks.|
|Availability||Cheez Whiz is widely available in grocery stores across the United States and online.|
|Popularity||Cheez Whiz is especially popular in Philadelphia, where it’s often used in the city’s famous Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches.|
|Packaging||Cheez Whiz is typically sold in glass jars or easy-squeeze bottles.|
What is Cheez Whiz?
Cheez Whiz is a processed cheese product made by Kraft Foods, first introduced to the market in 1952. It’s known for its distinctive bright orange color, smooth texture, and tangy, salty flavor. It’s sold in jars and easy-squeeze bottles and has a long shelf-life.
The main ingredients of Cheez Whiz include whey, milk, canola oil, milk protein concentrate, and an array of preservatives and flavorings. Although it’s not quite the same as traditional, natural cheese, it has become a beloved staple in many households due to its convenience and versatility.
Cheez Whiz is often used as a topping for crackers, hot dogs, and nachos, or as a dip for chips and vegetables. It’s also famously used in Philadelphia for making Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches. Despite its processed nature, Cheez Whiz has managed to carve out a niche for itself in the world of comfort foods.
What Does Cheez Whiz Taste Like?
Cheez Whiz has a unique taste that’s quite different from natural cheeses. The flavor is tangy and salty, with a hint of sweetness. Some people describe it as tasting similar to American cheese but with a more intense and processed flavor.
The texture of Cheez Whiz is also part of its appeal. It’s incredibly smooth and creamy, which makes it easy to spread on crackers or melt into a sauce. When heated, it becomes even creamier and can add a velvety richness to dishes.
Overall, while the flavor of Cheez Whiz may not be for everyone, those who enjoy it appreciate its distinctive taste and versatility.
Cheez Whiz Tasting Notes
- Color: Bright orange, almost neon in hue, very distinctive.
- Texture: Extremely smooth and creamy, spreads easily. Becomes even creamier when heated.
- Aroma: Mild, with a slight tangy smell. Not as aromatic as many natural cheeses.
- Taste: Tangy and salty with a hint of sweetness. The flavor is intense and somewhat artificial, but also comforting to some.
- Aftertaste: The tanginess lingers, along with a slight artificial note. The aftertaste is not as long-lasting as with natural cheeses.
- Versatility: Works well as a spread on crackers, as a dip for chips and vegetables, or melted into a sauce for dishes like Philly Cheesesteaks or nachos.
- Overall impression: While Cheez Whiz doesn’t have the complex flavors and textures of natural cheese, it has its own unique appeal. Its convenience, versatility, and distinctive flavor make it a favorite for many, despite its processed nature.
What is Cheez Whiz Made of?
|Whey||A by-product of cheese making, whey is a liquid that contains protein, lactose, vitamins, and minerals.|
|Milk||The base of most dairy products, milk provides creaminess and richness to the texture of Cheez Whiz.|
|Canola Oil||A type of vegetable oil, it is used to give Cheez Whiz its smooth and spreadable consistency.|
|Maltodextrin||A white powder made from corn, rice, potato starch, or wheat, maltodextrin is used as a thickener, filler, or preservative in processed foods.|
|Milk Protein Concentrate||Derived from milk, it’s a concentrated source of specific proteins that can improve the texture and taste of food products.|
|Sodium Phosphate||Used as a food additive for its properties as an emulsifier, it helps maintain the creamy texture of Cheez Whiz.|
|Modified Milk Ingredients||These are essentially any of the constituents of milk that have been altered in some way (e.g., through heat treatment or the addition of enzymes) before being added to a food product.|
|Water||Used in the production process to achieve the desired consistency.|
|Cheese (with various ingredients)||Actual cheese is also used in the recipe, although it’s combined with other ingredients to create the final product.|
|Trisodium Phosphate||A food additive often used in processed foods as an emulsifying agent to help blend ingredients together.|
Is Cheez Whiz Healthy?
Cheez Whiz’s healthiness is a topic of debate. On one hand, Cheez Whiz does contain a notable amount of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), a fatty acid that is potentially beneficial for weight loss and fitness.
Cheez Whiz contains 5 milligrams of CLA per gram of fat, which is comparable to the amount found in homogenized milk and higher than the amount in beef.
However, it’s also important to note that Cheez Whiz is a processed food product that contains a variety of additives and a high amount of salt. A single serving of Cheez Whiz, which is about two tablespoons, contains around 80 calories and approximately eight percent of your daily recommended fat intake (source).
In comparison to natural cheese, Cheez Whiz is not considered healthier. Natural cheese doesn’t contain the processed food ingredients, corn syrup derivatives, and other additives found in Cheez Whiz.
While Cheez Whiz does contain a potentially beneficial nutrient in the form of CLA, its high levels of processing, additives, and salt mean it should probably be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Kraft Cheez Whiz, Original Nutrition Facts
|Nutrient||Amount per Serving (2 tbsp or 33g)|
What are the Different Types of Cheez Whiz?
|Original Cheez Whiz||The classic, original recipe known for its creamy texture and mild, cheesy taste.|
|Cheez Whiz Light||A lower-calorie version of the original, with less fat and fewer calories per serving.|
|Cheez Whiz Jalapeno||The original recipe with added jalapeno peppers for a spicy kick.|
How to Make Cheez Whiz at Home: A Detailed Recipe
- 2 cups of sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup of Colby cheese
- 1 cup of Milk
- 2 tablespoons of Flour
- 2 tablespoons of Butter
- 1/2 teaspoon of Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of White Pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon of Garlic Powder (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon of Onion Powder (optional)
- Medium Saucepan
Most of these items can be sourced from your local grocery store or ordered online.
- Prepare the cheese: Grate the Cheddar and Colby cheese and set them aside.
- Make the roux: In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour until it forms a paste.
- Add the milk: Slowly pour in the milk, continuously whisking to ensure the mixture is smooth.
- Add the cheese: Lower the heat to low and gradually add the cheese, stirring constantly until it’s completely melted.
- Season: Add the salt, white pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir well to combine.
- Blend: Transfer the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Be careful as the mixture will be hot.
- Cool and store: Allow the cheese spread to cool before transferring it to a container. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
- Make sure to continuously stir the cheese as it melts to prevent it from burning.
- When blending the hot mixture, remove the centerpiece of the blender lid to let steam escape. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel to avoid splatters.
- For a spicier version, you can add a dash of hot sauce or chopped jalapenos.
Serve your homemade cheese spread on crackers, toast, or use it as a dip for veggies. It’s also perfect for making grilled cheese sandwiches or macaroni and cheese.
Enjoy the process of making this recipe, and remember, the best part about cooking at home is that you can adjust the flavors to suit your taste!
What Goes Well With Cheez Whiz?
- Philly Cheese Steak: A classic sandwich featuring thinly sliced steak, onions, peppers, and a generous serving of Cheese Whiz.
- Broccoli Concoction: A casserole-style dish where Cheese Whiz adds a creamy, cheesy element to complement the broccoli.
- Cheesesteak Spring Rolls: A fusion dish that combines the flavors of a cheesesteak with the fun format of a spring roll.
- Bologna Cake: An unusual dish where Cheese Whiz is used as a layer in a savory “cake” made with bologna.
- Cheesy Chicken: A simple, comfort food dish where chicken is baked or cooked with Cheese Whiz for a creamy finish.
- Broccoli and Rice Casserole: A hearty casserole where Cheese Whiz adds a creamy, cheesy sauce.
- Nachos: Cheese Whiz can be used as a quick and easy cheese sauce for nachos.
- Stuffed Potatoes: Cheese Whiz can be mixed with bacon and broccoli for a decadent stuffed potato filling.
- Turkey Sandwich: Cheese Whiz can add a creamy, tangy element to a turkey sandwich.
- Grilled Apples: An unexpected pairing, but Cheese Whiz can be used in a grilled sandwich with apples, peppers, onions, and mustard.
The History and Origin of Cheez Whiz
Cheez Whiz, a beloved and versatile American cheese product, has a fascinating history that reflects the evolution of the food industry in the United States.
The roots of the cheese industry in the U.S. stretch back to the country’s early days, with dairy farming being a crucial part of the agricultural landscape. However, it was in the 20th century, with the advent of modern food processing techniques, that products like Cheez Whiz began to emerge.
Cheez Whiz was developed by a team led by food scientist Edwin Traisman, who was working for Kraft Foods at the time. The goal was to create a product that outdid Kraft Singles in terms of convenience and versatility. The product was first introduced to the market in 1952.
The inspiration behind its development was the burgeoning demand for ready-to-eat and easy-to-use food products in post-war America. The manufacturing process involved emulsifying cheese, which allowed it to be kept stable and spreadable at room temperature – a revolutionary concept at the time.
However, Cheez Whiz was not without controversy. Questions have been raised about its nutritional value and the use of additives and preservatives. Despite these concerns, the product has remained popular, largely due to its convenience and unique flavor.
Cheez Whiz has been utilized and marketed in various ways since its creation. It’s often used as a topping for steaks and burgers, as a dip for chips, or as a spread on crackers. Its association with the famous Philly Cheesesteak sandwich further cemented its place in American food culture.
The legacy of Cheez Whiz is significant. As one of the first commercially successful processed cheese products, it paved the way for the proliferation of similar items. Its popularity also speaks to larger trends in American food culture, including a preference for convenience and a fondness for rich, creamy flavors.
In conclusion, the history of Cheez Whiz is a testament to the innovation and adaptability of the American food industry. Despite debates about its nutritional content, it remains a beloved staple in many households and an iconic part of American culinary history.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is the original Philly cheesesteak made with Cheez Whiz?
While Cheez Whiz is a popular choice for Philly cheesesteaks today, it’s not the original cheese used in this iconic sandwich. The Philly cheesesteak was created by Pat and Harry Olivieri in the 1930s, long before Cheez Whiz, which was introduced in 1952, came onto the market.
The original version of the sandwich was actually made without any cheese. It wasn’t until later that provolone, a traditional Italian cheese, was added. This aligns with the fact that Provolone is described as a “legit Italian cheese” and likely the choice of those who originated the sandwich.
However, with the introduction of Cheez Whiz in the ’60s, many found that its gooey consistency worked perfectly on the hot sandwich, causing it to become a popular choice. Today, while some purists might argue for provolone or American cheese, many Philadelphians and tourists alike enjoy their cheesesteaks with Cheez Whiz.
In conclusion, while Cheez Whiz may not have been part of the original Philly cheesesteak, it has certainly found its place in the sandwich’s modern iterations.
2. Is there real cheese in Cheez Whiz?
Cheez Whiz, produced by Kraft Foods, is a processed cheese sauce or spread. Interestingly, it was originally made with a significant amount of real cheese. However, over time, the recipe has changed.
Today, Cheez Whiz contains little to no real cheese. The product is now made with a variety of ingredients, including whey (a protein by-product of milk), oil, sodium-heavy flavorings, and other components that contribute to its distinctive bright yellow color and creamy texture.
Despite the changes in its formulation, Cheez Whiz still enjoys a strong reputation and remains a popular choice for various dishes, like the iconic Philly cheesesteak.
3. Do you refrigerate Cheez Whiz?
Yes, Cheez Whiz should be refrigerated after opening. The product is good for up to 5 months in the fridge once it has been opened. It is not necessary to freeze Cheez Whiz.
For the best quality and to maintain freshness, it is recommended to keep the product refrigerated after opening.
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