An in-depth look at one of the most villified foods in the United States. It's right up there with Spam. Get the history, find recipes you won't believe, learn how to make your own, find out what you do when someone gives you 30 pounds of Velveeta as a gift, and see how Velveeta influences the Arts. Enjoy!
Photo courtesy of Gregmce
What IS that stuff, anyway?
Are you sure you really want to know?
Photo Courtesy of Nick H
Velveeta is classified as a "Pasteurized processed cheese food." It actually has to label itself as "food" to clarify its status! Also sometimes known as "cheese food product." Huh? What's the difference between cheese food and cheese food product?
Kraft likes to call it a "fun, family-friendly" cheese food.
I'll tell you one thing; Kraft Foods sure won't tell you the exact process. Proprietary, they say. Maybe they know the recipe for Velveeta is just too scary to release to the general public. Of course, there is plenty of speculation.
Here's the official story: Pasteurized process cheese contains one or more cheeses, such as cheddar, with added cream or anhydrous milkfat. The mixture is heated with an emulsifier-such as sodium or potassium phosphate, and other ingredients, like color and flavoring. It is then poured into molds to congeal (that's a creepy word, isn't it).
Here is the ingredient list on the package: MILK, WATER, MILKFAT, WHEY, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, ALGINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, APOCAROTENAL (COLOR), ANNATTO (COLOR), ENZYMES, CHEESE CULTURE.
Some Important Definitions for this Very Serious Discussion
Pay attention! You may need this information some day.
Photo courtesy of ash campbell
Pasteurized process cheese food is a variation of process cheese that may have dry milk, whey solids, or anhydrous milkfat added, which reduces the amount of cheese in the finished product. It must contain at least 51% of the cheese ingredient by weight, have a moisture content less than 44%, and have at least 23% milkfat.
Pasteurized process cheese spread is a variation on cheese food that may contain a sweetener and a stabilizing agent, such as the polysaccharide xanthan gum or the Irish moss colloid carrageenan, to prevent separation of the ingredients. The cheese must be spreadable at 70 F, contain 44 to 60% moisture, and have at least 20% milkfat.
Pasteurized process cheese product is process cheese that doesn't meet the moisture and/or milkfat standards.
Imitation cheese is made from vegetable oil; it is less expensive, but also has less flavor and doesn't melt well.
For the record, Velveeta is pasteurized process cheese spread and Velveeta Light is pasteurized process cheese product. Cheez Whiz is labeled as pasteurized process cheese sauce, although that type isn't noted in the Code of Federal Regulations. A Kraft spokeswoman confirms that the word "sauce" just seems to be an add-on.
From Chemical and Engineering News February 7, 2000.
Why Does Velveeta Exist at All?
Is it blackmailing cheddar?
Photo courtesy of Spike5151
Simply put, Velveeta melts nicely. I don't think anyone outside of Kraft knows exactly why, but several possibilities have been suggested. Among them, differences in protein structure, oil content, and a Velveeta block's own desire to please.
Who Buys Velveeta?
Well, a lot of us have it safely hidden behind the Wheaties in the pantry, so no one will find out. However, there are those that embrace their relationship with Velveeta. About 5% of the population buys about 75% of all Velveeta sold in the United States.
I Need to Know!
Do you lose respect for someone when you find out they eat Velveeta?
The Recipe for Velveeta Fudge
Human decency and some arm-twisting have dictated that I try this recipe. So, I did.
Check out Adventures in Eating to find out what happened when I made Velveeta fudge.
Please resist the urge to say "you'll never guess what's in it!" Believe me, people don't want to know.
NOTE: When I originally posted this, the recipe called for 1/2 cup dry milk. That was the one thing that tasted bad in the finished fudge. I have seen the recipe on the web a lot without the milk, so here is the revised recipe, sans milk.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
8 ounces pasteurized process cheese, Velveeta, cubed
1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, about 5 cups unsifted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
In a large saucepan over medium heat butter and cheese cubes together, stirring frequently; remove from heat. Sift together confectioners' sugar and cocoa; add to cheese, mixing well. Stir in vanilla and nuts. Turn into a 9x9x2-inch pan; chill until firm and cut into squares.
Makes about 3 pounds.
The History of Velveeta Processed Cheese Food
Photo courtesy of Faster Panda Kill Kill
Kraft introduced VelveetaÂ© process cheese loaf in 1928 describing it as:
"A delicious Cheese Food consisting of Kraft Process American Cheese with added milk sugar, milk minerals and water."
For a complete history, including photos, visit Kraft's Official History of Velveeta
An Old Commercial on YouTube - Those slices must be mighty good!
More Recipes Using Velveeta - When you can't get enough of that sticky, gooey, rubbery taste, these sites are the answer to your prayers.
- Velveeta Recipes from Kraft
It's their baby. They should know what to do with it. Party recipes, main dishes, and sandwiches.
- 1,364 Recipes Containing Velveeta
Are you in cheese-food heaven, yet?
- Lasagne ala Velveeta
Hey, it got good reviews.
- Velveeta Nutburgers
No, I am not making this up. From a vintage Velveeta pamphlet.
- Homemade Velveeta Recipe
You've been looking for this, I know. Well here it is. It's 1:00 am, you look in the fridge, and (gasp) somebody else has eaten the last of the Velveeta. Now you won't have to wait til morning when the stores open. Just whip up your own.
- Velveeta Easy Cheesy Fajita Dip
A recipe developed in celebration of Velveeta's 75th anniversary. Do you think they used one of the original boxes from back then?
- Velveeta Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Another 75th anniversary gem from Kraft.
- Ultimate Velveeta Nachos
It does melt better than real cheese.
For people who eat food
Did You Know...?
Kraft Foods had plans in the works for a new focus group,
Velveeta Recipe Tester Club, for those die-hard fans. Currently the project is on hold.
Find out what to do when someone gives you 30 pounds of Velveeta as a gift at this site.
"Velveeta" is a popular name for rock bands, strippers, and drag queens.
If you're in the UK and want to get Velveeta, what do you do?