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Jun 11, 2007 06:29 PM

Cheez Whiz Question...

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. Tony Luke's is NOT a tourist trap!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Philly

      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

        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

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

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

            1. 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

                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

                  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

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

                    1. re: Philly

                      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

                        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

                        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."