Unpopular Opinion: American Cheese Is a Bad Cheese for Cheeseburgers
It has come to my attention that many people enjoy cheeseburgers made with American cheese. I believe this is not only appalling, but also wrong. It is my conviction that American cheese is, if not The Worst Cheese for Cheeseburgers, a Very Bad one. Furthermore, if you believe otherwise, I consider you a craven, tasteless creature full of homogenized wretchedness and latent lactose shame.
Come get me in the comments if you disagree. I’ll meet you there. But first, I’ve got to spit some truth. Wake up, cheese-eating sheeple! American cheese is the worst. Here’s why.
It might not even be American
The year is 1911, and a pair of scientists named Walter Gerber and Fritz Stettler have just invented something. Do you know what it was? Processed cheese. Do you know what American cheese is? Processed cheese. Do you know where Herrs Gerber and Stettler are from?
These cats were Swiss. In their endless alabaster cunning, those slippery Swiss pumped a bunch of digestible whatnot into a vat with some Emmanthaler -- a good cheese, certainly better than American -- and bing-bang-boom, a Franken-fromage with theretofore unseen shelf life was born.
Now, on the other side of the Atlantic, around the same time, our man James Lewis Kraft was doing some sorcery of his own. With a similar process, he was turning cheddar -- a superior cheese to American in every way imaginable, and some ways unimaginable -- into a congealed block of bastardized bovinity.
Was American cheese a Swiss conspiracy to keep our tastebuds subjugated with blatherous false-flag fromage while those impassive fucks enjoyed all the Alpine Lace for themselves? Probably not. Jimbo Kraft’s research was supposedly independent, and differentiated enough that he was able to land a patent for it in 1916. But was it really? Hypothetically, couldn't it be that American cheese is all a clandestine international cheespiracy? Do you want a possible Mancheesian Candidate rolling up to your cookout and embedding itself in your gut? I certainly don't.
Stay woke, patriots.
It’s not real cheese
Speaking of processed cheese: it’s not real cheese. It’s made with real cheese, sure. That, plus emulsifiers, vegetable oils, sodium citrate, and “various dairy by-products,”” -- which, incidentally, was the working title of O-Town’s seminal Y2K hit, “Liquid Dreams.”*
American cheese is what’s known as “cheese product.” Cheese comes in wheels, or wedges, or blocks. Cheese product, on the other hand, comes in what’s known as “loaf,” a culinary term second only to “McRib” in its flagrant disregard for nature’s will.
Look, I’m all for artificial ingredients. Bring on the GMOs. Preserve the ever-living fuck out of my produce so it’ll fucking live forever. I’ll eat whatever you put in front of me. But how dare you tell me that this is the good shit? How dare you blaspheme before Our Lord And Savior Red Meat™ and slather on some cheese product, when there a dizzying array of more qualified dairy options? How dare you?
You don’t have to cut it
Cutting the cheese builds character, and also offers opportunities for fart jokes. Both these things are more American than the cheese which bears the name. Which brings me to my next point…
Those stupid plastic sleeves
Let’s say you’re at a cookout. You want a cheeseburger. OK. If you had a nice sharp provolone (a delightful partner that any burger would be proud to smush with), you’d grab a slice THAT YOU CUT LIKE A GODDAMNED ADULT and pop it onto your sizzling patty.
But you don’t have provolone. You chose American cheese, you monster. With your greasy fingers you’ll clamber to pull apart the thin film of cellophane separating the world from that orange square of mediocrity. It will feel spongy and limp. Is that what your burger deserves? A flaccid blanket of dairy-slander?
It smells like a hospital
Like sex, a cheeseburger is a sensory experience. Unlike sex, a cheeseburger should caress your nostrils with familiar, arousing aromas: of charred flesh and dripping fat, of the fire from whence it came, and of course, of cheese. (Note: If this is what sex smells like to you, stop having sex immediately and consult a physician.)
Normally, cheese delivers. Normally, it smells pretty badass. In fact, that’s one of cheese’s more appealing qualities, normally. But American cheese is no normal cheese. It smells like… nothing, really. Go ahead, take a sniff. See? Alright, maybe it sorta-kinda smells a little bit like milk, if it was stale and you were smelling it through a mask. To me, American cheese smells like nursing gauze made out of fat. It renders a cheeseburger lifeless in both nose, and flavor. Speaking of which...
It tastes like someone painted your mouth with a sock
I think this description speaks for itself.
Everyone gets it for cookouts
Now at this point, you’re probably wondering: Gee Dave, if you hate American cheese so much, why don’t you just avoid it? Oh, I do, mon chouchou. You will never see me order a cheeseburger burdened by that foul slab. But American cheese is as ubiquitous as it is insidious. Its acclaim with the rank and file means that any time I go to a cookout, tailgate, or other grill-oriented gathering, it will be there, mocking me with its mealy mouthfeel. It’s unavoidable. It’s everywhere. “How many cheeseburgers should I make,” the host will ask. I don’t know, pal -- what kind of cheese do you have?
It’s an embarrassment to this country
When you put a country’s name in front of a common noun, it almost always improves that thing. Here, watch:
- French kissing
- Chinese fire drills
- Swiss cheese
- Mexican Coke
- Polish horseshoes
- Canadian tuxedo
- Italian stallion
These nouns are uncommon as fuck. I want to get all up in these things and bask in their noun-y glory. By contrast:
- American cheese
That is some weak-ass shit, you guys. That is not shit I want to bask in. The United States is the greatest country in the world, and we have a bland, uninspiring cheese out there doing our bidding? Come on.
This is the country that stole hamburgers from the Germans, told those morons to suck it, and called it our own. In terms of burgers, we absolutely and without question run this shit. We owe it to ourselves -- to our children -- to make sure our national culinary heritage is stained, not with shame, but with grease. Grease of a finer cheese. A sharper cheese. A real cheese. Not American cheese.
Still disagree? Then fuck off, and good night.
*This is both gross, and false.
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Dave Infante is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow @dinfontay on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.