Friday, September 06, 2013

Velveeta, How to Use.

The processed cheese substance which became known as Velveeta was developed in 1908 in the state of New York. The product was sold to Kraft Foods in 1927, and under its new identity it rapidly became an iconic American food.

Advertisements for Velveeta – a “cheese food” not an actual cheese - over the next three decades highlighted its differences (advantages, apparently) over the real thing:

It is not an ordinary cheese – Velveeta is a cheese food rich in protein

Pasteurised, foil-wrapped and packaged … It stays FRESH.

S-P-R-E-A-D-S LIKE BUTTER (so you don’t need butter), yet slices firmly.

Exciting NEW cheese food!

MEN ARE SAYING: “At last! We’ve been waiting for this flavour.”

My brief attempt to clarify the history of Velveeta in Australia were somewhat confused by the existence of a “Velveeta Talcum Powder” (sixpence a tin) in the second decade of the twentieth century. The cheese version did not become an “overnight success” in Australia until the early 1950’s.

In Britain, the first mention of Velveeta that I have been able to find in newspaper cooking columns was in The Times of April 3, 1939. Interestingly, it was in an article entitled “In an American Kitchen” which began:

Vegetables as Entrees.
Why should vegetables be so often only a prop to the meat? They deserve better treatment. Why not give them a solo part? Dress them with sophistication and they graduate from an accessory dish to a vegetable course.

One of the recipes included in the article was:

Velveeta Spaghetti.
How often one needs a first course for luncheon or Sunday supper that can be snatched from the pantry shelf. Here is a quick one. It calls for a package of Velveeta cheese (80z.) and two jars of spaghetti in tomato sauce (17 oz. jars).
Cut the cheese crosswise in one-quarter-inch slices and then slice each into thirds. Add a scant teaspoonful of salt to the spaghetti. Arrange the spaghetti and cheese in alternate layers in a casserole, beginning with the spaghetti and ending with the cheese. Place in a hot oven (400 deg. F) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the mixture thoroughly heated through, Broiled sausages, cut up and sprinkled over the top after baking, will make more of a dish of it. Four to five portions.

I wonder – where are the vegetables in this dish?  The tomato sauce must count as a vegetable?
And, I have to ask in view of the introductory paragraph, - where is the sophistication in this recipe?

Velveeta cheese had its few moments of glory a few years later during World War II. The “Kraft Kitchen” advised the British housewife, beleaguered by rationing, to have “A Main Dish of Cheese Once a Week.”

This week’s recipe from the Kraft Kitchen.
Cheese Dumplings.
¼ lb. Kraft Cheddar or Kraft Velveeta shredded.
2 lb potatoes
2 teaspoons margarine melted
Pepper, salt, nutmeg
8 cloves
Method. Bake or boil potatoes in their skins, peel, mash with margarine melted, add most of the cheese, seasoning to taste. Form into dumpling shapes, roll in remaining cheese, place under a grill or in hot oven for 10 minutes. Before serving, stick a clove in the centre of each. Serve with spinach and chutney or relish. (Makes 8 dumplings.)
The Times, December 18, 1941

And finally, I want to share with you one of the most famous dishes using Velveeta. This recipe appeared on packets of the cheese product from the 1920’s

Velveeta Rolls
Cut thin slices of fresh white bread lengthwise from the bottom of the loaf. Spread generously with Kraft Velveeta. Roll up like a jelly roll, fasten with toothpicks and toast on all sides under the broiler flame. Velveeta Rolls are delicious with salads or tea.

Do you have a Velveeta memory? Please share with us if you do, via the comments.


Lapinbizarre said...

Martha Stewart, US style and food queen (and convicted felon) was guest on a November, 2012 broadcast of US National Public Radio's "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", where she stated"Oh. I love Velveeta. ..... I do, though. If I'm in somebody's house and they have Velveeta cheese, I do take a piece of it, and I really like it. I'm not kidding. But I have never bought it.".

Roger Mortimer

srhcb said...

My first recipe. I made these for me younger brother and sister when we were approximately 10, 7 and 4.

It's called, Jellystone Park (after the setting of the Yogi Bear cartoon show)


6 Saltine Crackers Squares (2 per person)
3 Slices of Velveeta trimmed to Saltine Cracker size
Mustard as required

Set 3 Saltines salt side town
Top with Velveeta slices
Place generous drop of mustard on each
Top with remaining Saltines - salt side up
Push down on upper Saltine so mustard comes up through holes in cracker.

Laugh and enjoy

Repeat as necessary or as long as supplies last

Urban Hermit said...

I remember Velveeta very well and can still recall the smell of the school lunch Velveeta sandwiches - particularly in the Brisbane summer. Not a particularly culinary satisfying memory. If it wasn't cheese what was it? I dread to think.

Les said...

There's the classic Velveeta and Rotel Cheese dip. I'm not sure if the recipe came on the back of the Velveeta box or on can of Rotel tomaotes. It is the only recipe my brother's learned to make during their high school years and they could eat the whole thing in a sitting:
1lb block velveeta, cubed
1 10oz can Rotel tomatoes
Place all in a microwave safe bowl and cook on high till the cheese is melted, stir well. It's great with tortilla chips.

You can also mix in a half pound of browned hamburger or sausage. Keep both dips warm in a small crock pot for football games and parties. Good grief, now I'm hungry for some!

Shay said...

There are certain things for which Velveeta has no peer. Toasted cheese sandwiches to eat with tomato soup, for example.

I'm not sure I'd use it for much else, though.

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks, Everyone! Some marvellous ideas here. It seems that with the addition of only one other ingredient (a slice of bread, or a can of tomatoes, or a can of spaghetti) can be made into a complete dish!
I do hope we can collect some more ideas.

Les said...

I should add Velveeta cheese grits. Cook the grits according to instructions, beat in an egg and 1/2lb grated velveeta cheese (I think or 1lb). Bake at 350F till browned. I never really liked it so I came up with my own version using cheddar cheese.

Anonymous said...

My mother used to make a " casserole" out of saltines , velvetta cheese and eggs and milk and mustard, does anyone remember this dish, or have the recipe?