Sixty years ago, the average American consumed 8 pounds of cheese annually. Now it is closer to 33 pounds. Not long ago, the selection of cheese at your local supermarket was fairly mundane—think American, Cheddar, Swiss, maybe Edam, Gouda, Muenster, possibly some Bleu. Now you’ve got cheese shops with local and foreign offerings numbering more than 100 (check out Fromage in Old Saybrook, Conn.). Other venues make their own cheese on site like Beecher’s.
But obviously how we like our cheese depends on what we’re eating. As Sarah Nassauer explains in the Wall Street Journal:
Cheese lovers all have a slightly different definition of melt, says John Brody, a technology principal and natural cheese specialist for Sargento Foods Inc., a Plymouth, Wis.-based cheese maker. Some people feel cheese is melted when it softens, for others “it has to bubble and flow,” he says…. When eating macaroni and cheese, people want a creamy melt, which is different from the “tablecloth melt” on burgers, says Michelle Malone, research and development group leader at Schreiber Foods Inc., a large Green Bay, Wis., producer of cheese for restaurants.
Nassauer writes that “[t]he holy grail of melted cheese science might be making the perfect combination of processed and natural cheese, one that melts smoothly without producing oil, but ‘acts like a natural cheese,’ so it has more texture and stringiness, [Michelle Malone] says.”
I guess that “Cheese, Glorious Cheese” campaign really worked, even if it was a bit, um, cheesy.