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Cheez Whiz Question...

a_and_w Jun 11, 2007 06:29 PM

Over on the LA Board, we've been having a debate over the authenticity of Cheez Whiz on Philly cheese steaks. A poster who hails from just outside the City of Brotherly Love insists that no true Philadelphia cheese steak place would serve Whiz. I've only been to Pat's, Geno's, and Tony Lukes, all of which I remember serving Whiz. I'm told, however, that these are tourists traps and not the real thing.

So tell me, hounds, is Whiz really the exception, rather than the norm we've been led to believe? If so, is it the kind of thing that's offered simply out of tradition? For tourists? I personally love the combination of American plus whiz, but am genuinely curious to know what Philadelphians (and Pennsylvanians generally) consider authentic. Please be as specific as you can, since I'd love to learn more about which places serve what style of cheese steak for the next time I'm in your fair city. Thanks!

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  1. p
    Philly RE: a_and_w Jun 11, 2007 07:16 PM

    Tony Luke's is NOT a tourist trap!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Philly
      a_and_w RE: Philly Jun 20, 2007 01:41 PM

      Yet they serve whiz. Actually, I've only had cheese steaks at the short-lived NYC branch. Stuck with roast pork italian when I was in Philly.

      1. re: Philly
        SpdRcr069 RE: Philly May 28, 2008 12:37 PM

        All cheesesteak shops including Tony Lukes are tourist traps in Philly because tourists who google or search for the best will find Pat's Geno's TL's... and add them to their foodie destination places in PHilly, but that doesn't mean they are not the "real thing."

        The whiz thing is one way to order. I prefer mushroom provolone "wit/ with" (meaning with onions). Pat's is still and always will be my favorite. Rick's in the RTM makes a really good steak as well.

        1. re: SpdRcr069
          Philly RE: SpdRcr069 May 28, 2008 01:30 PM

          If Pat's is your favorite, say no more!

      2. j
        JABDDD RE: a_and_w Jun 12, 2007 05:22 AM

        Whiz is authentic Philly. Yes, there is a choice- you can get provolone, american or whiz. But, Whiz is most authentic. At home, I use american, but get whiz when out. (Yes, I am the only Philly girl who doesn't like provolone- the horror ;) !)

        And, I echo the other poster- Tony Luke's is NOT a tourist trap.

        1. b
          brightman RE: a_and_w Jun 12, 2007 06:25 AM

          Whiz, Provolone, American are all fine choices. One of my all time favorite sandwiches is a whiz pizza steak with fried onions from Steve's Prince of Steaks.

          1. j
            jzerocsk RE: a_and_w Jun 12, 2007 06:56 AM

            So any place that serves Whiz at all is automatically not "authentic" (whatever that means)? OK! :-)

            1. h
              Hungryin theBurbs RE: a_and_w Jun 12, 2007 07:28 AM

              Whiz is definitely not the exception. Just about every neighborhood steak place and food truck can serve you a Whiz steak. There are many, many variations on the cheesesteak--pizza steak, whiz, provolone, american, fried onions, roasted peppers, hot peppers, mushrooms, etc. Everyone has their favorite combination. I think most would agree, though, that the "Classic" cheesteak is served with Whiz and fried onions.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Hungryin theBurbs
                katesprings RE: Hungryin theBurbs Jun 12, 2007 08:02 AM

                I'm from the burbs of Philly (Chester County), grew up eating cheesesteaks, but find Whiz entirely offensive. When you order cheesesteaks from Delaware County or Chester County, you usually get american cheese. That's how I make them at home, American cheese and finely cut up top round. Not even sure if whiz is cheese actually?

                1. re: katesprings
                  Buckethead RE: katesprings Jun 12, 2007 08:39 AM

                  I'm sure Whiz is comparable to American as far as whether it's cheese or not, they're both 'process cheese food'. Regardless of its status as real cheese, the traditional cheesesteak would probably be defined as HungryintheBurbs describes: Whiz and fried onions. The three cheese choices are usually Whiz, provolone, and american.

                  1. re: Buckethead
                    Philly RE: Buckethead Jun 12, 2007 02:56 PM

                    What was the "traditional" cheesesteak in the Philly area prior to Kraft introducing Cheese Whiz in 1953?

                    1. re: Philly
                      idia RE: Philly Jun 12, 2007 03:04 PM

                      Does D'Allesando's in Roxborough use Whiz?
                      I always thought the roll and the sauce were extremely important -- maybe even moreso than the cheese itself.

                      1. re: idia
                        Philly RE: idia Jun 12, 2007 03:38 PM

                        Haven't been to Roxborough recently. Last time there, it was provolone and I don't believe whiz was an option then.

                      2. re: Philly
                        Hungryin theBurbs RE: Philly Jun 12, 2007 04:41 PM

                        Well, according to Wikipedia (which is consistent with other things I've read), cheese wasn't added to the steak sandwich until the early 50's, so it is very possible that Whiz was the first, or at least contemporaneous with the origin of the "cheesesteak."


                2. g
                  GDSinPA RE: a_and_w Jun 15, 2007 05:07 PM

                  As you can see, even "Authentic" is in the eye of the beholder. A lot of people on this board will argue that the big 2 are not really authentic anymore and have become too big for their britches. I don't hit the places inside the city often enough to know.

                  But from a pure chow standpoint, I personally find Whiz gross no matter what it's served on. A good cheesesteak to me would have a nice sharp provolone - which matches well with the beef and onions. No sauce necessary.

                  We'll never all agree on what's best or authentic when it comes to cheesesteaks - that's part of the fun!

                  1. j
                    janeer RE: a_and_w Jun 15, 2007 07:08 PM

                    If the question is authenticity, not personal preference, Whiz is irrefutably the cheese of the original Philly cheesesteak. Of course, others are now available. Anyone who is telling you that Pat's and Geno's are tourist traps is sorely misinformed; one wonders if he/she has ever been. While some tourists may go out their way to go there to try these classic places ( and you must truly make an effort as they are not exactly on the beaten path), they are true local places making great steaks. The original Tony Luke's is still good, too; I lived across the street from one of the smaller stores and it was not as good.

                    1. OlderPhiladelphian RE: a_and_w Jun 15, 2007 07:48 PM

                      I am probably the oldest poster on this board (67) and have lived in Philly all my life. I have been at most cheese steak joints and I do not remember ever seeing Whiz on a cheese steak when I was growing up. It is NOT original and I have never known anyone my age who grew up in the city (not in the burbs!!) who ate whiz!. Enuf said.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: OlderPhiladelphian
                        gina RE: OlderPhiladelphian Jun 16, 2007 01:37 AM

                        I am guessing that Provolone was the original cheese on a cheesesteak. Is that right, OlderPhiladelphian?

                        If you end up going to place like Pat's or Geno's for whatever reason, you should order your cheesesteak with Whiz. It's the only way you'll end up with a cheesesteak with *melted* cheese at these places.

                        1. re: OlderPhiladelphian
                          Philly RE: OlderPhiladelphian Jun 16, 2007 10:08 AM

                          I agree with you, OlderPhiladelphian, and I'm from the "burbs"- Norristown. As a teenager, I made cheesesteaks at Westy's Steaks and Shakes; never served Whiz.

                          1. re: Philly
                            The Knight RE: Philly Nov 3, 2008 05:26 AM

                            Hey, Philly -- I too worked at Westy's Steaks in Norristown as a teenager, around 1969-70.

                            1. re: The Knight
                              Philly RE: The Knight Nov 3, 2008 08:12 AM

                              I was at the West Norriton store @ 1965-1967. Good food and a nice ice cream bar.

                          2. re: OlderPhiladelphian
                            a_and_w RE: OlderPhiladelphian Jun 20, 2007 01:46 PM

                            "It is NOT original and I have never known anyone my age who grew up in the city (not in the burbs!!) who ate whiz!"

                            Then how did it get started and why do so many places mentioned herein serve it?

                          3. c
                            Chowtalk RE: a_and_w Jun 17, 2007 04:06 AM

                            A few things.
                            1. It's hard to get consensus because everyone has a bias based on flavor memories.
                            2. History is the basis of what a true cheesesteak is.
                            3. Cheesesteaks were served before cheese whiz was invented.

                            That being said, here is the deal.

                            Pat's and Geno's ARE tourist traps.
                            Tony Lukes isnt exactly a tourist trap but it's 18th street location isnt anywhere near as good as the South Philly spot.

                            The most important thing about a cheesesteak is the meat and the roll.
                            It is possible to have an excellent cheesesteak without whiz.
                            In fact steaks at John's Roast Pork at Wececoe and Snyder are far more delicious with sharp provolone. They dont do whiz and as far as I recall it was the cheesesteak place that won a beard award and was hailed by Gourmet magazine among others as the best cheesesteak.
                            Cosmi's Deli in South Philly also makes a far better steak than Pats or Geno's.
                            Pat's and Geno's are high volume low quality steak joints that are VERY famous but so is Bookbinders and Appleby's.
                            They use lower quality meat and the rolls have no texture or crisp like the ones at John's.
                            They please crowds but mass conformity has never been an indication of quality.

                            Cheeze whiz is garbage, it isnt even cheese.
                            It's reconstituted milk products with sweeteners like corn syrup added, transfats and stabilizers like carrrageenan and xanthan gum to keep it from transforming into the mess it is.

                            It's absurd that all these people are basically waxing poetic about what is essentially velveeta and as stated, it is a completely artificial product and defeats the point of using high quality ribeye.

                            15 Replies
                            1. re: Chowtalk
                              cheesewit RE: Chowtalk Jun 17, 2007 05:06 AM

                              Growing up, cheesesteaks were made with american, provolone, or mozzarella cheese. The only place that used cheez whiz was Pat's. It was foreign to me. It was unique. Not better. Just unique. Then, because of it's popularity and recognition, the Pat's style cheesesteak was copied and the use of cheez whiz as an alternative cheese was incorporated onto many menus.
                              Go to Pat's for their cheez whiz cheeseteak, go to any one of hundreds of neighborhood shops and get their version of the cheesesteak.

                              1. re: Chowtalk
                                Greg P. RE: Chowtalk Jun 17, 2007 10:26 AM

                                It always amazes me when people use such absolute terms when discussing food. Okay, we get it that you don't like cheeze whiz or Pat's or Geno's, but give me a break here. Taste is just that: taste. It's an opinion, not an absolute statement of fact.

                                I still enjoy Pat's steaks and would not describe the ingredients as "garbage." Sure you dont like them, but It is what it is. I don't think that a pat's cheeseteak is gourmet food and I don't ever recall Pat's advertising it as such.

                                To say that's it's not authentic is a pretty hard thing to say.

                                Also, to say that Pat's and Geno's ARE tourist traps is a bit of a stretch. That's quite an opinion. Both have been in business pretty long to be called purely a tourist trap, More opinions here.

                                1. re: Greg P.
                                  janeer RE: Greg P. Jun 17, 2007 07:20 PM

                                  Yes, I have to chime in one more time. Of course Whiz is crap--but that has nothing to do with whether that is what is used on an authentic (Pat's) steak (Jim's uses it too), and you don't have to order it if you don't like it. Please, it's not about you; a little historical objectivity here would be nice. Pat's and Geno's deserve some respect--and Pat's roll is quite nice. John's is really good, but really, Pat's and Geno's are in their own ways authentic.

                                  1. re: Greg P.
                                    GDSinPA RE: Greg P. Jun 21, 2007 07:06 PM

                                    Fair point, but I think there is some absolute you can discuss though. Some people are very much interested in the history of a dish, in this case cheese steaks. Folks ask all the time what an authentic one should be, and if your definition of authentic includes the earliest possible version, then you gotta go with something other than whiz.

                                    Authentic does not mean it will be your favorite, or even taste all that great to you. For instance - authentic nachos are actually kindof simple and just OK. Lot's of creative people have made them better (and worse) over the years. Same is true for the cheese steak.

                                  2. re: Chowtalk
                                    a_and_w RE: Chowtalk Jun 20, 2007 01:50 PM

                                    "It's absurd that all these people are basically waxing poetic about what is essentially velveeta and as stated, it is a completely artificial product and defeats the point of using high quality ribeye"

                                    I think you're confusing preference with fact. I happen to like the taste of whiz and Velveeta, irrespective of their ingredients.

                                    1. re: a_and_w
                                      Philly RE: a_and_w Jun 20, 2007 02:13 PM

                                      Then enjoy your preference!

                                    2. re: Chowtalk
                                      idia RE: Chowtalk Jun 20, 2007 02:18 PM

                                      I liked your post. It makes a lot of sense to me.
                                      I wonder if you (or anyone else) can tell me what D'Allesandro's in Roxborough uses, because if you say that Whiz crap, I am changing to John's Roast Pork (if I can find it).
                                      The meat and roll are all-important in a cheesesteak. I don't even need cheese in my cheesesteak if they have good green peppers, onions, and sauce on their roll.

                                      1. re: idia
                                        yayadave RE: idia Jun 22, 2007 05:30 AM

                                        Whoa!! Nobody mentioned green peppers or sauce before. Green peppers are obvious, but what sauce?

                                        1. re: yayadave
                                          brightman RE: yayadave Jun 22, 2007 09:34 AM

                                          steak, tomato sauce and mild provolone or mozzarella are pizza steaks. sweet or hot peppers (long hots or banana), mushrooms, and pepperoni are other common toppings.

                                          1. re: yayadave
                                            QueenB RE: yayadave Jun 22, 2007 10:45 AM

                                            Marinara sauce.

                                            1. re: QueenB
                                              a_and_w RE: QueenB Jun 22, 2007 10:58 AM


                                          2. re: idia
                                            Chowtalk RE: idia Jun 25, 2007 05:10 PM

                                            folks react with misguided passion, we cant all like the same thing, my basic point is not to say you should not eat whiz, it's that if you care about the meat you should not use whiz. Whiz is used to hide lame meat and is frankly for steak philistines. I have never been to D'allesandros, done tony lukes, cosmi's and Johns. All three blow away pat's and genos. Authenticity isnt my issue,I just care if it's good. The differenece between Pat/Genos and Johns/Tony Luke is like the difference between the Outback and the Capital grill meat-wise.

                                            1. re: Chowtalk
                                              a_and_w RE: Chowtalk Jun 25, 2007 05:12 PM

                                              Why would whiz be any more or less effective than any other cheese (product) in masking "lame meat"? Again, I think you're confusing your personal preference for fact.

                                              1. re: Chowtalk
                                                brightman RE: Chowtalk Jun 25, 2007 05:26 PM

                                                I care about the meat. No cheese product will mask the taste of a poor cut or overcooked meat. Sometimes I choose whiz, sometimes I choose provolone. I never choose american, because to me it seems gummy when melted. The argument that whiz is used to mask "lame meat" is nonsensical. Steve's meat is very good - do they serve lesser meat to those that choose to order a steak with whiz? Tony Luke's offers whiz as well - is their meat also lame?

                                            2. re: Chowtalk
                                              jrshooter RE: Chowtalk Jul 15, 2010 10:49 PM

                                              Chowtalk, it doesn't MATTER if it's artificial if it tastes good!

                                            3. monavano RE: a_and_w Jun 23, 2007 05:36 AM

                                              It's always so entertaining to see posts about "authentic" when it comes to whiz. To the OP and the rest of the experts on this thread: An "authentic" cheesesteak has whatever kind of cheese you had as a kid. Whiz? Great. Provolone? Great. You're local shop never carried Whiz? Guess what? Philly proper is HUGE and has more joints that make cheesesteaks than you can shake a stick at. It's very likely, that at the same time you ate provolone on yours, another kid in another area of Philly was eating Whiz.
                                              There is no absolute regarding which is the original cheese and here's the thing: Pat Oliveri DID NOT INVENT A CHEESESTEAK. He invented beef and fried onions on a bun, because he ran out of hot dogs. It was not until years later, perhaps 20 years that, as the story goes, an employee of his at Pat's put cheese on his steak because he thought it was boring. What kind of cheese? Who knows . It could have been around the time Whiz was invented. Heck, Joe Vento of Geno's claims to be the first to put cheese on!! He thinks provolone is "authentic" but offers Whiz too.
                                              Another story goes like this. Cheese Whiz was definitely the first to be put on the steak sandwich because it was in a melted form already and did not require that cheese be put on the grill for melting. This was done so that people who kept kosher could have a melted cheese on thier steak sandwich. The can, sitting on the side of the grill, could be dipped into to make a cheesesteak, and the grill was kept kosher.
                                              Pat Oliveri is aslo reported to have said that he uses Whiz (as opposed to Velveeta) because it was fast, and kids were familiar with it.
                                              How's that?!!
                                              Now, could someone mention Hitler or the Holocaust so we can invoke Godwin's law? Just kidding....carry on.

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: monavano
                                                monavano RE: monavano Jun 25, 2007 07:02 PM

                                                Give a listen to an NPR interview with Harry Oliveri's son (of Pat's). He reenforces the assertion that Whiz was first, for the aforementioned reason posted above.

                                                1. re: monavano
                                                  brightman RE: monavano Jun 26, 2007 06:57 AM

                                                  "This was done so that people who kept kosher could have a melted cheese on thier steak sandwich." People that keep kosher do not mix dairy and meat. Whiz may be manufactured, but it is still a dairy product (I think). Kosher and cheesesteak never cross paths. If you want to assert that the cheese not touching the grill permits those that keep kosher to eat steaks (cheeseless) made on that grill, you may be right.

                                                  1. re: brightman
                                                    monavano RE: brightman Jun 26, 2007 08:10 AM

                                                    You're right, I mispoke. It was done so that the meat on the grill did not touch cheese. Good catch.

                                                    1. re: brightman
                                                      GDSinPA RE: brightman Jun 26, 2007 10:54 AM

                                                      Yah, but cheese still touches the grill regularly. Does that not make anything cooked on that grill also non-kosher? I would think someone looking for a kosher steak sandwich would avoid most of the places we're talking about regardless.

                                                      1. re: GDSinPA
                                                        brightman RE: GDSinPA Jun 26, 2007 11:03 AM

                                                        the meat itself is not kosher butchered so anyone truly observing kashrut would not patronize any of the steak sandwich shops...

                                                        1. re: GDSinPA
                                                          monavano RE: GDSinPA Jun 26, 2007 11:20 AM

                                                          In the context of my posts, what I am saying ,to be clear, with regards to the authenticity of Whiz is: Frank Oliveri (Son of Harry Oliveri, younger brother of Pat Oliver of Pat's King of Steaks) claims that the first cheese to be put on the steak was Whiz. Furthermore, the cheese, being in a can, did not touch the grill and contaminate the steaks for those patron who could not eat meat with cheese or which has comingled with cheese. Circa early 1950's.
                                                          This is evidence which I am presenting to support the assertion that Whiz is original and indigenous to the Philadelphia Cheesesteak as we know it today.
                                                          Today, all kinds of cheese are used and touch the grill. But, I am speaking historically.
                                                          To clarify, I am not participating in a discourse about whether grills/meat/any other product that is involved, are kosher. I am giving a historical perspective on the origins and evolution of the product to address the query of the OP.

                                                          1. re: monavano
                                                            a_and_w RE: monavano Jun 27, 2007 10:07 AM

                                                            Guys, this is freakin' fascinating -- thanks so much for the info!

                                                            1. re: a_and_w
                                                              monavano RE: a_and_w Jun 27, 2007 10:43 AM

                                                              I'll betcha didn't think you were opening up a can of worms, eh? :)
                                                              It is fascinating and so emotionally driven, which is intrinsically Philly. We love us some cheesesteaks!!

                                                  2. c
                                                    CPaul RE: a_and_w Jun 28, 2007 12:40 PM

                                                    Whiz is indisputably authentic. Whiz is also indisputably vulgar and disgusting.

                                                    I don't care about eating an authentic steak sandwich. I do care about the taste, which is why I get mine w/ provolone (and fried onions and mushrooms).

                                                    I don't know what's in Whiz, but I wouldn't be surprized if it were loaded with high fructose corn syrup and a ton of partially hydrogenated trans-fats and "cheese solids".

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: CPaul
                                                      monavano RE: CPaul Jun 28, 2007 01:01 PM

                                                      I'm with you on the provolone. That's how I take mine, with sauce too. I suspect when Whiz was invented it was like "wow! space age technology!". I bet it astounded people. I mean, this is the time that those horrid frozen dinners apparated. Yuck and yuck.

                                                    2. lynnlato RE: a_and_w Jun 28, 2007 12:54 PM

                                                      Whiz is discusting... I don't care who uses it. I'm originally from Williamsport PA and I've only ever known them to be served w/ provolone. My family owned a hoagie shop and that's what we used, exclusively. American and whiz weren't an option.

                                                      1. w
                                                        whiz_wit_onions RE: a_and_w Jan 13, 2008 03:29 AM

                                                        Jim's on South is my personal favorite----and YES, I always get mine with whiz. Guess it's an acquired taste. Pat's is not a tourist trap for crying out loud!!!!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: whiz_wit_onions
                                                          eldondre RE: whiz_wit_onions May 27, 2008 12:42 PM

                                                          It's been settled, whiz is neither authentic nor the most popular.

                                                          the Inky's poll found that most people here prefer provolone or American. Whiz is good for covering up the taste of something, probably the cheap, overrated steaks at Pat's or Geno's. A good steak location for tourists is sonny's on market st.

                                                          1. re: eldondre
                                                            Boognish RE: eldondre May 27, 2008 02:20 PM

                                                            IMWO, I don't really think that article settles much of anything. It's just a collection of anecdotes and/or quotes from people who weren't there when cheese was introduced to the steak sandwich. The only veritas is that the people interviewed currently work in steak joints. If the author was hoping to settle the issue once and for all, he certainly didn't offer any real proof.

                                                            Critically speaking, it's a pretty sloppy article.

                                                            That said, cheese whiz is one of the foulest things ever created. You couldn't force me to eat a steak with whiz.

                                                        2. d
                                                          deprofundis RE: a_and_w May 27, 2008 03:30 PM

                                                          Man, you people need to get a grip. Regardless of your opinion of Cheez Whiz, it is indisputably an authentic topping. Whiz, American, and Provolone are ALL authentic toppings. Whiz has been served on cheesesteaks in Philly for DECADES and that is a fact. We will probably never know what the first cheese ever put on a steak sandwich was, and it doesn't matter anyway. It's debatable what the most popular topping is. Whiz seems to be the most popular at the famous places (Pat's, Geno's, Jim's). I don't consider Pat's and Geno's to be tourist traps, but yes they are very touristy. I've found that both can produce a stellar cheesesteak, but both are very inconsistent (Pat's more so than Geno's). I've had great steaks at both and awful steaks at both. You have like a 50-50 shot. I prefer whiz and onions on my steak, but I think my favorite place is John's, and they happen to not offer whiz.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: deprofundis
                                                            mazza3 RE: deprofundis Jun 16, 2008 12:22 PM

                                                            other than the fact that i've never been to john's, this person is completely correct. it isn't a big deal at all, but yes, in philly, we sell steaks with wiz, we have done so for my entire life (29) and people do order and eat them. i prefer provolone, but i have gotten whiz or american cheese on occassion. i have even gotten double cheese. oooOOOooo.

                                                            favorite cheesesteaks for me - pizza steak, provi, wit and provi wit, banana hots and mushrooms. YUM!

                                                            but all this aside, the best meat sandwich is at 20th and jackson at nick's. and i am going there tonight, so you all should be envying me. hehehee.

                                                          2. OlderPhiladelphian RE: a_and_w May 27, 2008 08:53 PM

                                                            I am 68 years old and have been eating cheese steaks my whole life. Incredible that I am still alive!! I have eaten cheese steaks in every single joint that has been mentioned on this thread. I NEVER EVER remember cheese whiz existing when I was growing up. In the late 40's and early 50's, there was only american or provolone. No whiz no matter what anyone says. I do think that John's is far and away the best I have ever had, but after John's you can take your pick from Steve's, Chinks, or even D'Allesandro's. As a child, I can even remember so many local places putting the sandwich under a broiler to melt the cheese....damn...that was so good.
                                                            p.s. keep pushing Pats/Genos on the tourists...it keeps the crowds down at Johns, and my prayers go out to the owner.
                                                            Cheese whiz is really a matter of taste, but I would never eat it.

                                                            12 Replies
                                                            1. re: OlderPhiladelphian
                                                              deprofundis RE: OlderPhiladelphian May 28, 2008 11:36 AM

                                                              You have a right to not like the steaks at Pat's and Geno's, but if they are not "authentic" then I don't know what place is. And both have been serving whiz for decades. Steve's serves whiz, too. D'Allesandro's isn't owned by the same people anymore, and from what I heard quality has dropped. Chink's has a pretty good steak. It's been a while since I was there, but if I recall they use American cheese only. Arguing whether whiz is authentic is like arguing whether a real cheesesteak uses chopped or unchopped meat. Again, the answer is that both are acceptable.

                                                              1. re: OlderPhiladelphian
                                                                Nancy99 RE: OlderPhiladelphian Jun 13, 2008 07:34 AM

                                                                Hallelujah! Traditionalists: no Whiz. That's the way it oughtta be. Not knocking the Whiz joints as "tourist traps"; no opinion there. Just think a real (read: "authentic") cheesesteak should be served with real cheese. But it's a matter of preference, I guess. I'm just dumbfounded at the popularity of Whiz. (What the heck is it made of, anyway??)

                                                                1. re: Nancy99
                                                                  deprofundis RE: Nancy99 Jun 13, 2008 03:31 PM

                                                                  According to foodsdatabase.com, here are the ingredients for Cheez Whiz:

                                                                  "Milk And Part-Skim Milk, Water, Whey, Milkfat, Sodium Phosphate, Contains Less Than 2% Of Dried Corn Syrup, Salt, Worcestershire Sauce (Vinegar, Water, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Salt, Sugar, Caramel Color, Dried Garlic, Spice, Anchovies, Tamarino, Natural Preservative, Annatto (Color), Oleoresin Paprika, Enzymes"

                                                                  A 2 tbsp (33g) serving of Cheez Whiz contains 90 Calories, 7 grams of fat, and 490mg of sodium.

                                                                  These numbers are meaningless unless you compare them with other cheeses. According to the same web site, one slice (21g) of Kraft American cheese contains 70 Calories, 5 grams of fat, and 270mg of sodium. But this serving is 12 grams less than a serving of Cheez Whiz, so the equivalent amount would be 110 Cals, 7.9g fat, and 424mg sodium.

                                                                  One (28g) slice of provolone contains 98 Calories, 7.5 grams of fat, and 245mg of sodium.

                                                                  Cheez Whiz doesn't look so bad now. ;-)

                                                                  1. re: deprofundis
                                                                    Bigley9 RE: deprofundis Jun 16, 2008 01:29 PM

                                                                    years ago (more than 12, less than 15?) there was an article in the Inquirer where they were looking at what happened inside a car on a very hot day with the windows rolled up. Lots of items/foods/etc were in the car (no living things). The headline read: "After X hours inside the car, only the Cheese Whiz remained unchanged"

                                                                    1. re: Bigley9
                                                                      crazyspice RE: Bigley9 Jun 16, 2008 02:24 PM

                                                                      Now there is some food for thought!

                                                                      1. re: crazyspice
                                                                        Bigley9 RE: crazyspice Jun 18, 2008 12:03 PM

                                                                        found the article - here's the first paragraph (viewable on line at the web site)
                                                                        Precisely how hot is it inside your car?
                                                                        Hot enough to break an indoor thermometer.
                                                                        Hot enough to bake six buttermilk biscuits, cook a frozen dinner, speed- ripen a rock-hard peach.
                                                                        Hot enough to send cheddar back into its original curds and whey, to melt a box of primary-color crayons into a single blob of indeterminate hue, to turn solid pomade into a soupy puddle.
                                                                        After four hours inside a car on a day of near-record heat, only the Cheez Whiz stood alone. Its texture was virtually unchanged.

                                                                        1. re: Bigley9
                                                                          crazyspice RE: Bigley9 Jun 18, 2008 01:52 PM

                                                                          I think I am afraid of Cheez Whiz

                                                                2. re: OlderPhiladelphian
                                                                  lynnlato RE: OlderPhiladelphian Jul 6, 2008 08:09 PM

                                                                  Cheesesteaks were purportedly first made in 1930. Cheez whiz didn't hit the market until 1952. There ya go, my guess is that provolone is the original cheese. That's they way I've always had it and that's how momma made them at our hoagie shop. In fact, provolone is the only cheese we had to offer.


                                                                  1. re: lynnlato
                                                                    deprofundis RE: lynnlato Jul 7, 2008 07:10 AM

                                                                    Cheese wasn't used when the steak sandwich was first invented in 1930. It even says that in the article you cited. Provolone may or may not have been the first cheese ever used, but it's impossible to know for sure. Pat's started using Cheez Whiz in 1952 (that's 56 years ago), and according to the article it's their topping of choice.

                                                                    1. re: deprofundis
                                                                      jzerocsk RE: deprofundis Jul 8, 2008 10:31 AM

                                                                      I just heard an interview last week with Frank Olivieri Jr on KYW ...he said they started using Whiz at Pat's before other cheeses. According to the interview his grandfather would not allow cheese on the sandwiches because he did not want to lose customers who kept Kosher. When the old man went on vacation and left Frank Sr. in charge of the place, Frank introduced the Whiz, chosen because he could warm it in a pot and never have to worry about cheese touching the grill.
                                                                      This is more intended as an interesting fact and not a claim over which is more "authentic" or "correct."

                                                                      1. re: deprofundis
                                                                        lynnlato RE: deprofundis Aug 24, 2008 03:02 PM

                                                                        Not sure what your point is as we are talking about cheesesteaks. The first sandwiches were called steak sandwiches or philly steaks, but we're talking about cheesesteaks.

                                                                        According to the article, Geno's claims they were the first to add cheese (not date given). Pat's added whiz in '52 and they can have their whiz - bleck.

                                                                    2. re: OlderPhiladelphian
                                                                      Biehn RE: OlderPhiladelphian Jul 6, 2010 11:29 AM


                                                                    3. n
                                                                      Nancy99 RE: a_and_w Jun 13, 2008 07:26 AM

                                                                      Pertinent to the subject at hand (and what a great topic this has been!)...
                                                                      The NYC Film & Food Festival features Philly cheesesteaks: "Opening night [6/14/08] of the festival brings Ben Daniel's THIS IS MY CHEESESTEAK to the big screen with a cheesesteak party to match. Come to the beach [Water Taxi Beach, Long Island] to watch this new documentary about Philadelphia's signature food and enjoy authentic TONY LUKE'S Philly Cheesesteaks under the stars with a stunning view of midtown Manhattan..." (quoted from: http://www.nycfoodfilmfestival.com)

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Nancy99
                                                                        Decker RE: Nancy99 Jun 13, 2008 07:51 AM

                                                                        Here's a great article on the subject:


                                                                        My personal preference has always been good old American wit', but I do like provolone and even whiz from time to time.

                                                                      2. hollyd RE: a_and_w Jun 13, 2008 10:09 AM

                                                                        i with you decker. American wit is the way to go. When I first moved to Philly I had my fascination/love/interest in Whiz, but that has passed. I am aware that American cheese is still not real cheese, but it's not as salty as whiz. And provolone just gets lost under all that meat taste. For me it's all about the taste, and american wit is the best.

                                                                        1. n
                                                                          Nancy99 RE: a_and_w Jun 18, 2008 08:33 AM

                                                                          OMG, I just found the Web site for the documentary "This is My Cheesesteak", complete with movie trailer. Maybe this will answer some questions! http://www.thisismycheesesteak.com/ch...

                                                                          1. h
                                                                            halsue RE: a_and_w Aug 22, 2008 11:21 PM

                                                                            My first steak sandwich was at Pats about 1938. Accept for WW2 I had a Pat's at least twice a month during dating years. I would stop there after a date. Pat's is open 24/7.

                                                                            There was not cheese until about the '50s. Provolone is the way to go for a cheese steak. How can it be cheese when it comes out of a can and slithers out of your sandwich?

                                                                            While it is true tourists go to all three, they are not tourist traps. Most customers are locals
                                                                            . Tourists come to these eateries because they can't get a Philly stgeak sandwich any place else. California has a chain called Filly Steaks. The meat is thick and the rolls are round. Feh!

                                                                            ---=Hal Rosenthal

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: halsue
                                                                              Philly RE: halsue Aug 23, 2008 09:54 AM

                                                                              Hal--There isn't a chain in CA called "Filly Steaks". There is Philly's Best, and the meat is thin on a long roll! www.eatphillysbest.com

                                                                            2. b
                                                                              Biehn RE: a_and_w Jul 6, 2010 11:28 AM

                                                                              all I know is my mom (who was born in NE Philly and raised me there) made cheesesteaks for us with sliced deli cheese be it American pr Provolone melted into the chopped steak. This was a summertime thing and was usually accompanied by "black & white" milk shakes made with Breyer's ice cream and Hershey's syrup. Anytime I buy a cheesesteak I compare it to hers. Anything with whiz just isnt home to me, and home is Philly. Cheese Whiz is for tourists.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Biehn
                                                                                monavano RE: Biehn Jul 6, 2010 01:02 PM

                                                                                Cheese Whiz is for whomever likes their cheesesteaks with it. Seriously, as a native Philadelphian, these proclamations make me roll my eyeballs. Don't like it? Don't eat it. This looking down the nose boloney is just that.
                                                                                PS....what in the heck is wrong with being a tourist? Have you never been? Does that make one a geographical second-class citizen?
                                                                                Cheesesteaks are a big tourism draw for Philly, so let's no knock them.

                                                                              2. j
                                                                                jrshooter RE: a_and_w Jul 15, 2010 10:51 PM

                                                                                FWIW, the BEST cheesesteaks in my life had a specific attribute -- the way the steak was chopped. The best cheesesteaks were chopped so fine with the cheese and onions that it was essentially a paste when it went into the roll.

                                                                                Some people find that disgusting, but it was heaven for me.

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