Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cheese >
Mar 14, 2009 02:01 PM

American Cheese? What is it?


Up here in the Great White North (AKA Canada) There are a lot of American terms we don't use and so don't quite know what they mean.
American cheese is one of them for me.
Is it those crappy processed slices (Kraft singles)?
If so...drop the name out of self respect.
If not...what is it?

  1. It's processed cheese (not necessary "cheese product" or "cheese food", which are derivatives of processed cheese properly speaking), meaning it's not cultured as a cheese but takes the ingredients of a cheese and processes them together.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Karl S

      Sounds like I should have posted in "Not About Food" :-)

    2. Processed, made from oil, hardly cheese. Skip it, send a few more cents and get the real thing.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cstr

        It's not made from oil. Processed cheese (as opposed to its derivatives) is not made from oil.

        Click on the ingredients for the various examples of American cheese:

        1. re: cstr

          "Real" cheese is fine for most things, but if you're making an egg & cheese sandwich, you need to use American cheese.

        2. That's an easy question. Kraft Canadian Singles = American cheese. Literally.

          It is made from real cheese mixed with all kinds of other stuff. It has great melting qualities and is the cheese to use in a real, non-fancified, cheeseburger.

          It actually has some interesting culinary uses. When you melt good cheddar (much more readily available in Canada than in the US), it tends to separate into grainy lumps swimming in fat. Melt some "American cheese" with it and the emulsifiers tend to hold everything together nicely without ruining the cheddar's much stronger taste.

          21 Replies
          1. re: embee

            That was my suspicion and I was right. Thank you. Now I know. It is just that I have read about using American Cheese in some recipes and was not sure what it was. And thanks for the tip on melting Cheddar (my favourite and the older the better).

            1. re: embee

              "good cheddar (much more readily available in Canada than in the US)"

              *cough splutter* I don't know what part of the US you've been to, but we have access to some bloody outstanding Cheddar in the US, thank you very much. ;D

              1. re: Morganna

                Some good cheddar? Yes, of course. Indeed, some great cheddar.

                Readily available at virtually any mainstream supermarket? No.

                We'll need to agree to disagree on this.

                1. re: embee

                  I live in Vermont. Great cheddar is easily available in my local markets here. I don't have to make any sorts of special trips. In fact, I can get my hands on a small variety of local artisan cheeses in the three largest local supermarket chains here, all of which includes great cheddars. And I don't even live in a huge population center.

                  So you may disagree all you want, but your disagreement won't change the fact that I can get great cheddar in my mainstream market. Perhaps you and I have different definitions of great cheddar. I happen to think Cabot Creamery hunter's cheddar and extra sharp cheddar are pretty great as far as cheddars go, and they're locally produced from local cows.

                  Cabot Cheddar is also widely available in chain supermarkets throughout the US. Perhaps you don't consider that a "great cheddar".

                  On -that- point we might have to agree to disagree. But that Cabot cheeses have won awards for excellence on a large scale would indicate an authority beyond my own palate.

                  1. re: Morganna

                    And that availability is also in everyday supermarkets in the Boston area.

                    1. re: Morganna

                      So I guess that if those Cabot bricks are truly great cheddar, I don't have to be jealous of that nice wheel of incredible looking linen lined stuff, or the wax covered large brick (which I believe was from Canada) that Cat Cora and Art Smith were fighting over, eh? Cabot is fine, but I think it's far from the truly great cheddars of the world. I have no idea what's above the border, but we do have Whole Foods, where great cheeses are available - perhaps not quite as ubiquitously as a regular supermarket. But Cabot? While I don't doubt that Cabot can and perhaps does make great cheese, I don't think it's those plastic wrapped bricks we see in the Stop&Shop.

                      1. re: applehome

                        Have you -tried- the Cabot Hunter's cheddar? Or the Extra sharp?

                        I've had specialty cheddars, and outstanding cheddars, and foreign cheddars (Cheddar is my favourite cheese). No, Cabot isn't the absolute best cheddar in the whole world. But I still believe it counts as a "great" cheddar. No one said "fantastic, best in the world" cheddar. embee was claiming there were no great cheddars available in US supermarkets. I disagree, Cabot counts as a great cheddar in my book, and I'd be -really- interested in hearing from people who have actually given it a decent shot in comparison to what they consider "the best" cheddars as to why it doesn't even merit "great".

                        The fact that it is waxed (cheeses have been waxed for thousands of years) or is in plastic and is widely available in supermarkets does not constitute proof that it's not a great cheddar.

                        And the fact that there are better cheddars available in other places, or you can get better cheddars in more specialty places also does not make Cabot not great.

                        Sounds to me like you've not even given them a try because of their ubiquity. That hardly seems fair. :)

                        1. re: Morganna

                          Please everyone, all I said is that good cheddar is "much more readily available in Canada than in the US". Which it is. I said nothing more.

                          In a different part of the food spectrum, good beef frankfurters are much more available in the US than in Canada. I'm originally from the US and a miss being able to get a good hot dog.

                          Food traditions and availabilities differ, nationally and regionally. It is now possible to get good seafood in Toronto - there was virtually none when I came here - but it can hardly compare with what's available in Vancouver or Seattle.

                          In both countries, the majority of "mainstream" consumers these days eat mainly crap. I see the ads, I see the displays, and my stomach heaves.

                          1. re: embee

                            You know, from how passionate I get about these cheddar threads, you'd think I'd have more of a vested interest in cheddars than simply really liking them a lot. I assure you all that I do not. I do, however, have an aversion to broad sweeping generalizations that come across as denigrating our entire country. I can't seem to just let them sit. I do, however, assure you all, this is my last statement on this particular issue.

                            "...all I said is that good cheddar is "much more readily available in Canada than in the US". Which it is. I said nothing more."

                            I did some minimal research. You can get Cabot products at the following huge chain stores:
                            Gristedes, A&P, D'Agostino, Whole Foods, Kings Super, Met Food, BJs Wholesale, Costco, King Kullen, Walmart Superstore, Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Kroger, Sam's club, among dozens of others.

                            I checked various large cities all across the US, and there wasn't anywhere I checked that Cabot cheddar wasn't found in a large chain store (though further west that was mostly Costco/Walmart/Sam's/BJs).

                            Clearly, good cheddar is readily available to the mainstream shopper in the US. Since it is available in such a wide spread of stores all around the US and in such a diversity of population centers, I disagree with your claim that good cheddar could be more readily available to people in Canada than here in the US, and I feel that I've backed my claim up with facts.

                            Do you have some sort of factual support for your claim that Canada has good cheddar more readily available that is more than some generalized feeling you might have?

                            "In both countries, the majority of "mainstream" consumers these days eat mainly crap. I see the ads, I see the displays, and my stomach heaves."

                            Whether or not most people buy good cheddar instead of crappy cheap American processed cheese is a different question.

                            However, since all companies need to make money to survive, if a product fails to sell, then they will stop carrying it eventually. SOMEone must be buying Cabot cheddar for it to be found in so many large chain stores.

                            If you were to assert that supermarkets, in general, in both the US and Canada are filled with tons of crap food that mainstream folks in both countries seem to love and eat instead of buying better tasting, higher quality foods, then you'd get no argument from me. You'd further get no argument from me that the crap foods are more prominent in the displays, and tend to catch the eye more because of marketing. I'd also even agree that mainstream people buy too much crap in general. :)

                            However, every supermarket I've been to has had better options available, and I've had no problem availing myself of those choices when I wanted to. I've not had to go significantly out of my way, even though I live in rural Vermont, for most of the higher quality things I want to buy.

                            So I simply can't agree that good cheddar isn't as readily available to people in the US as it is to people in Canada.

                            And I promised I'm done, so I am.

                          2. re: Morganna

                            Morganna, re the Cabot Hunters' Favorite cheddar in the plaid wrapper, my market here in Florida (Publix) is selling the whole Cabot line for $1.99 for the 8 ounce bar (except the horseradish, which I plead with them to carry). Top quality cheese for $4/ lb is an incredible bargain when it compares equally to exotic cheeses that cost 3 or 4 times the price. It costs about the same as processed American cheese wrapped slices. A great value.

                          3. re: applehome

                            i don;t know where you are from applehome, but i know we have every kind of cheese available in every quality in large american cities; i suspect it is becoming more the case in smaller ones as well....

                            1. re: applehome

                              I can get Cabot reserve cheddars at my local supermarket. They are great cheddar-style cheese, with a specific local style (Vermont). I can also get cheddars from other Vermont makers, like Shelburne Farms, et cet. English farmhouse cheddars are great, of course, but they are not the sole inhabitants of the circle of great.

                              If you assume that great only equals tiny production, hard to find, and wicked expensive, then you have to exclude the Undisputed King of Cheeses, Parmigiano-Reggiano, from your list of great cheeses.

                              1. re: Karl S

                                Cooks country gave a Cabot (Private Stock) top rating for Supermarket cheddar.

                                Cabot has a where to buy page.


                                I like supermarket and specialty cheddar. When I go to Geno's in Philly every few years, for a cheese steak I will order with "Whiz" (processed cheese spread in a can placed in a warmer).

                                By the way, Waldbaums supermarkets in downstate New York is selling assorted varieties of Cabot 8 oz. bars for $1.88 until Thursday March 19th. Give it a try for cheap this week. Report back to us.

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  "Undisputed King of Cheese" --- did you teach Batali that expression??? It certainly is firmly in my lexicon!
                                  PS: Husband out of town and I had "your" scrambled eggs. He likes them firmer; I got to have them like custard. MMMM.

                                2. re: applehome

                                  If you dramatically toned down your assertions to match proven facts, it would dramatically enhance the credibility of the concern.

                                  Melodramatic overassertions about evils in our food supply are actually *obstacles* to improving our food supply because they damage the credibility of critiques generally. That's why I am being such a stickler pain in the butt on this general point. I think the overassertions are *part* of the problem, not part of the solution.

                                  1. re: Karl S

                                    I have no idea of what you're talking about. Must be that high horse one of us is on that keeps us from communicating to the other.

                                    I over-asserted nothing. What I said was, "While I don't doubt that Cabot can and perhaps does make great cheese, I don't think it's those plastic wrapped bricks we see in the Stop&Shop." I see no argument made against that. The lowest common denominator product they make is made to compete with Kraft Cheddar, not the linen lined wheels from wherever.

                                    If you and Morganna say Cabot makes great cheddar, I'll buy that. In fact, I *will* buy that. Since I'm in your neck of the woods, please give me the supermarket that has these great cheddars - Market Basket? Hannaford? Do they have it on the dairy shelf next to the Kraft where I see their other products, or do they have it in the specialty cheese section? There are certainly some good cheeses you can get in these supermarkets in those specialty cheese sections - some wrapped in plastic, some in wax, some in their own aged crust. Nothing great, like cut off the wheel in a real specialty shop, but certainly good stuff.

                                    Obviously, whatever else they make, Cabot sells cheap cheeses that sit next to Kraft in the dairy sections. These cheeses are not great, maybe not even really good. So I'd say that I seem to be yelling up to you on the horse, not the other way around.

                                    1. re: applehome

                                      I see Cabot cheddars in the specialty cheese cases in Shaw's, Price Chopper, and Hannaford's. They also have them stocked in the regular dairy cases in a few of those. The Hunter's cheddar is usually in the specialty case, IME.

                                      1. re: Morganna

                                        Hi, Morganna. Hunter's a.k.a. Seriously Sharp with the red flannel motif on the package, right?

                                        Love it in my scrambled cheesy eggs and on tacos and...and...and!

                                        1. re: applehome

                                          If either of you were mounted on my horse, he would think a bit ,buck you off, and go - shopping for cheddar on both sides of the border.

                                          1. re: applehome

                                            We buy the Cabot's Seriously Sharp Cheddar at our local (Reading) Market Basket....( we're in Melrose) But quite honestly my very favorite cheddar is that which is sold at the Weston Country Store in Weston VT.

                                            But you know, Dakota Indian tribal wisdom has long held that 'when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount'.

                              2. For full disclosure on American cheese (and what it's NOT) see

                                In the section titled "Modern Varieties....." it rather explicitly states that the individually wrapped slices are faux-cheese. It continues that a true-er version of American (real) cheese is found at the deli counter, but even that is "processed", ie, it includes emulsifiers and other additives.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: CocoaNut

                                  Here is another wiki article which shows the difference between processed cheese, cheese food, cheese spread and imitation cheese.


                                  If you really want to get into it here is another interesting article:


                                  I'm learning way more than I wanted to know about the subject!

                                2. It's hardly clear that American Cheese has only dairy product. While it may be true that the official ingredients lists doesn't list Gasoline, it is made from emulsifiers which can be anything and are most certainly non-dairy. A lot has been written about the emulsifiers being derived from petroleum, as are many hydrocarbons used for a huge list of foods and goods used every day, especially in processed foods, and even in farmed goods (fertilizer). I've included below a generalized list of cheese product ratings based on actual dairy content. Consider that statement carefully - a grading system of cheese (a dairy product) based on how much dairy product content it has...

                                  Even with actual American Cheese, it is a franken-food, unfermented, not aged, put together from parts, made to be tasteless to appeal to the lowest common denominator, patented by James Kraft in 1916 and made available in mass production quantities after wwII, much as "sweet cream" or uncultured butter became the norm in America - another Madison Ave/USDA-FDA/Dairy Farmers "productivity" trick.

                                  I have no understanding of why this is appealing to chowhounds simply because it melts (many great cheeses melt based on fat structure) and is so mild as to be innocuous, i.e., tasteless, on the great american cheeseburger or better yet, white squishy bread grilled cheese sandwich. I've always thought of this site as a place to get beyond all that junk. As far as I'm concerned, Kraft singlehandedly did a lot of damage to America's health and palate, and people like us are supposed to be getting America over all that.

                                  From the Wiki article on Processed Cheese:

                                  Due to the processing and additives, some softer varieties cannot legally be labeled as "cheese" in many countries, including the United States and Britain, and so are sold as "cheese food", "cheese spread", or "cheese product", depending primarily on the amount of cheese, moisture, and milkfat present in the final product.

                                  In the United States processed cheese is defined, categorized, and regulated by the Food & Drug Administration under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 (Food and Drugs), Section 133 (Cheeses and Cheese Related Products).[1][4] Pasteurized process cheese can be made from a single cheese or a blend of several cheeses. Cream, milkfat, water, salt, artificial color, and spices may also be added. The mixture is heated with an emulsifier, poured into a mold, and allowed to cool. The definitions include:

                                  * Pasteurized process cheese (Includes "American Cheese" and "Pasteurized process American cheese"),[1] (e.g., "Kraft Deli Deluxe American Cheese").

                                  * Pasteurized process cheese food, which contains as little as 51% cheese (e.g. "Kraft Singles")

                                  * Pasteurized process cheese product which contain less than 51% cheese (e.g. "Velveeta")

                                  27 Replies
                                  1. re: applehome

                                    As I said above, I think I should have started this thread on the "Not about food" board.
                                    Stop calling it American Cheese. You are shaming yourselves.

                                    1. re: billieboy

                                      Most Americans are a blend of many different backgrounds, such as Irish, Indian, German, Saxon . . . you get my drift. So is American cheese, a blend of different cheeses. Where's the shame?

                                      1. re: danhole

                                        By that analogy, an American would be a cyborg (or a Frankenstein) - a being that was broken down into its parts and put back together, mechanically, with whatever external components could be used to cheapen the process. Instead, Americans are individuals - mixtures of various races and ethnicities both because we promulgated generations of mixed offsprings - we're mutts, and because we have tolerance and love our diversity - we mix well together - we're integrated.

                                        There's nothing integrated about the Kraft process of pouring a liquid mixture of dairy products and emulsifiers into a form. It is based originally on cheddar alone - not emmentaller and tilsit and grubeen and etcetc... but any sense of real cheddar is long gone and replaced by utter blandness. That does actually represent American food from the 50's on - our era of food shame, indeed, as we moved into the world of mass-factory prepared foods, bland, salty, sugary, and intended to grab the largest chunk of the then ignorant marketplace. So your point about it being American (until now) makes sense - but as I said before, we're trying to undo all that now. We've learned the difference and have moved on to the real stuff.

                                    2. re: applehome

                                      I pretty much agree with your point of view. However. I'd like to clarify one thing.

                                      Per your comment on one of my comments: processed cheese isn't appealing "because it melts". Old cheddar (the stuff I typically use is President's Choice brand from the supermarket, 5 or 6 years old) tastes wonderful. It is fine in a grilled cheese sandwich or melted on a burger (my cheeseburger comment was a joke).

                                      This type of cheese doesn't melt agreeably when making a cheese sauce. It forms a disgusting mess of grainy cheese clumps in liquid fat. This can be prevented by adding a pure starch slurry. You can also combine it with other pure cheeses having different melting qualities, but this changes the taste.

                                      "American cheese" offers an easier, better way. The emulsifiers in the "franken-food" turn the cheddar into a lovely cheese sauce that tastes only of aged cheddar. It's an effective shortcut with a good end result, but you won't see me using pure processed cheese on my asparagus or mac & cheese.

                                      1. re: embee

                                        Oh, I understood you completely and I thank you for the hint. A slice of Krap sliced cheese in with the cheddar and the cheddar will melt smoothly and taste like cheddar.
                                        Excuse the typo on Kraft. :-)

                                        1. re: billieboy

                                          And the good news is that the plastic wrapped stuff will keep forever, thanks to all the preservatives mixed into the semi-dairy slurry. So if you buy an 8-pack for the sole purpose of helping your real cheese melt, you can probably keep it forever. Think of it as an additive - a modern day wonder of chemistry that helps grainy cheese melt.

                                          I really like this idea, embee!

                                          1. re: applehome

                                            While you are being sarcastic, it is, indeed, a creation of (actually not so modern) chemistry that helps grainy cheese melt smoothly. You need an "additive" to make this happen.

                                            If the only taste you want in a cheese sauce is cheddar, it's a pretty good trick and tastes a hell of a lot better than the Cheez Whiz. most North Americans use.

                                            Of course there are better ways. Jeez!

                                            1. re: embee

                                              Guys, give me my (high) horse back!

                                              embee - do you really think that most north Americans use Cheez Whiz??? No one I know in the US and Mexico uses the stuff.

                                              *@@* (my new icon so you'll know what I mean)

                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka


                                                They probably use nacho cheez - from an aerosol can ;-)

                                                1. re: embee

                                                  That reminds me of the joke about the grocer chasing the cheese thief down the street: "That's nacho cheese! That's nacho cheese!"

                                                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                  Reminds me of my sister talking about daily life when she spent a year in Costa Rica. Her host family was all excited about this new American product available in stores down there for the first time, and how it had such an interesting and wonderful taste, and it turned out to be Cheez Whiz. (She also said that she overdosed on midlevel German chocolate down there because tariffs made it cheaper than Hersey's and the like but that's another story)

                                                  Count us in the group that uses American cheese (though the deli stuff, not Kraft singles) for grilled cheese- one part American to two parts swiss because it seems to help cut down on the stringiness of the swiss without altering its flavor too much.

                                        2. re: applehome

                                          Here's the complete ingredient list of Land O'Lakes yellow American cheese: Cultured Pasteurized Milk and Skim Milk, Cream, Salt, Contains Less than 2% of Sodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Lactic Acid, Artificial Color, Enzymes.

                                          No scary petroleum based emulsifiers.

                                          I don't demonize American cheese. I don't buy it for myself (then again, I don't make hamburgers at home) but it has some limited utility. I don't fear it, and don't encourage fear of food that way - that kind of thinking tends to produce a backlash that's worse than the disease, as it were. Food is not religion - let's keep our dogmas out of our foods and in our religions.

                                          1. re: Karl S

                                            Nicely put.. Life's too short to get all negatively worked up about this stuff.

                                            1. re: Karl S

                                              1) Labels lie - how much petroleum (or anything else) do you need to be listed on a USDA label - 1%? How much toxic petroleum byproduct, ingested regularly, would kill you? You can trust the food conglomerates if you wish.

                                              2) Chowhound is NOT a religion? How did that happen? I guess it's just another recipe swap site now - funny how I used to think it was a food discussion site where people that were passionate about food discussed their passion (passionately). Instead, we find that all food is equal here, all food is delicious to all people. There's nothing left to discuss except to swap shortcuts!

                                              There's nothing wrong with liking American cheese, whether by itself, on cheeseburgers, or on grilled cheese. If there's nothing wrong with these things, we shouldn't feel guilty about them - we should just eat them because we like it, and that's that. But let's not put these mundane factory made foods into our pantheon of great foods. It's like calling McDonald's a great restaurant. Instead, let's spend our time in the chappel discussing all the great foods of the world.

                                              1. re: applehome

                                                What's your evidence that LOL American Cheese (not cheese food or cheese product) has petroleum byproduct in it?

                                                Chowhound has never been a religion. Dogma is not fun. Once we have dogma about food, it ceases to be fun. Keep dogma in religion and out of food, please.

                                                And I've never championed American cheese as a great cheese. It just has an ordinary use that's good compared to many other cheeses - to melt on hamburgers without distracting from the hamburger. That's all. Just because I think demonizing American cheese is a far-fetched doesn't mean I think American cheese is the greatest thing since...Wonder Bread...

                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                  "Artificial colorings, flavorings, BHA, BHT, and TBHQ are made from petroleum. They have all been linked to symptoms such as ADHD, autism, sensory disorders, bed wetting, tics, asthma, and several other neuroconnector issues."

                                                  That's from one source, a quick google search led me to that and there are plenty of others. Is this definitive proof of anything? Of course not. It's the web. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly part and parcel of our current scenario of eating things that have been broken down into parts and then re-made into "food". I don't demonize American Cheese other than that it sits square in the middle (and origin) of this movement which began for us mainly after WWII. We are the world leaders with this chemistry lab foodstuff - and I don't think we ought to be particularly proud of that, even though the research done, from the days of George Washington Carver, has been beneficial for world nutrition. So let's make and eat great peanut butter and cheese because we know how good they can be - but can't we do it naturally? GW Carver is my hero - Kraft? Not so much.

                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                    Oh App,

                                                    In fairness, citing someone's blog as your reference to all of these hysterical accusations is not fruitful. If you have any real science to back up these statements, jfood would love to read them. Otherwise it only appears as another Chicken Little post.

                                                    But if you feel better not using BHA that's your choice, but is there anything other than blogs to support this?


                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      Obviously, I was not citing someone as an expert, but rather to show that there are many folks out there who feel this way. What I said regarding franken-food stands on its own as a food philosophy, regardless of whether LOL as a particular brand or American Cheese as a particular food item utilizes components that may have been derived from petroleum. In truth, the point is moot - we have so much petroleum product in us from breathing the air and eating vegetables (and animals that eat vegetables) that any slight increase from any single product is hardly worth arguing over.

                                                      I fall back onto the real chowhound issue - it's about the flavor, stupid (not you). I simply do not understand us, as a group, standing up for American Cheese, or for BHA or for the entire factory franken-food process. Not for health or sustainability, but for flavor. Nothing comes out of these mega-corporations and their factories that is worth expending our limited calorie allocations on. We only have so many bites to eat in our life - why are we spending it on crap? And why are we celebrating crap here on Chowhound?

                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                        Who is celebrating American Cheese? I am not. I am merely objecting to rhetorical overkill directed against it.

                                                        And there are times I don't want tons of flavor in my cheese. Hamburgers come readily to mind. I want a very mild cheese that is perfectly sized, melts well and fast (so I don't have to overcook the burger while its melting, and it will melt well off heat, et cet. - American cheese is perfectly suited to this), and just contributes to the unctuousness without too much flavor distraction. My desire here is not everyone's, but it is the desire of many, including many Chowhounds whose bona fides are not credibly put into question thereby.

                                                        1. re: applehome

                                                          because "crap" american cheese tastes good on burgers and in grilled cheese sndwiches?

                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                            Applehome, as you are doubtless aware, people like different things. Some people like American cheese for certain purposes. I hate zucchini, myself, but I would never chastise someone else for liking it - even though, to me, it tastes like crap. How can you presume to be the arbiter of taste for everyone?

                                                            1. re: small h

                                                              Because taste is a learned subject - otherwise it would never change. I'm trying to affect change, to guide people away from thinking that American Cheese is acceptable for chowhound tastes. If there is no use in guiding people, offering different opinions of taste or anything else, why should we bother with this site at all? It's only good to you if it's good to you, nothing else matters. I'm not trying to be everyone's guide or arbiter - I expect most will reject me. But perhaps someone will hear that there is something better than American Cheese or more to the point, that discussing the wonders of American Cheese to death, as we do here periodically, may not be the best use of this site.

                                                              1. re: applehome

                                                                Who is discussing the "wonders of American Cheese to death"?

                                                                1. re: applehome

                                                                  "Taste" is not really a learned subject. It is tied to one's roots, one's experiences, and even one's mood. It is extremely subjective. My wife, for example, adores black licorice. I find it inedible (and after she eats it I find her unkissable until the black death Godzilla breath is cleansed).

                                                                  I am a chowhound. I like lots of foods. In some cases I like American cheese. And I find it perfectly acceptable in those cases. (Even Cheez Whiz has its place -- atop a true Philly Cheesesteak most notably.)

                                                                  I grew up with American cheese, and, like other tastes with which I grew up, I like it. These foods have a taste of memory, of nostalgia for me. Some of these tastes would doubtless strike you as pedestrian or somehow not fitting of what I see is a very, very narrow and snobbish view of food.

                                                                  I would assert that yes, you and others on this page are indeed trying to be everyone's guide or arbiter -- otherwise what else do you mean by saying you want to "guide people away from thinking that American Cheese is acceptable for chowhound tastes"?

                                                                  In my house, in addition to the hated American Cheese, I also have some good grana padano and a nice aged Trappist cheese from Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. So I am more than aware that there is something other than American Cheese.

                                                                  There's more than one way to enjoy food. The food snobs are in many ways worse than the wine snobs. The sharing of food is supposed to be a comfort to us, not an excuse for pedantry and one-upmanship.

                                                                  1. re: jmckee

                                                                    Then why do these foods keep coming up in such "guilty food" contexts? Why are we, people who are allegedly interested in learning more about new places to eat, new recipes, new flavors, so keen on discussing the same old lowest common denominator food, over, and over again. I'm not questioning the OP asking the what is it question - but we soon moved over into whether it's real cheese or not, and then into whether it's acceptable cheese or not. We always do when this subject comes up. There is a camp of people that like the stuff and want to talk about it, and then there are a few, like me, who think liking it is most likely a learned response, just like so many other junk foods we've learned to associate with as Americans, and we can all learn to do better.

                                                                    You accuse me of pedantry as a negative? I think that's a badge of honor. Pedantry assumes the presentation of information as from a teacher or scholar. I'm actually neither of those things, but accept the honorific graciously.

                                                                    We're here to share what we know, and learn from others sharing what they know. We've begun to argue about the process now, not just whether the information presented is valid or not. I agree that's not where we want to spend out time.

                                                                    To me, the issue of snobbery and one-upsmanship is strictly in the eyes of the reader. If one feels that lowly about the subject that they feel that discussing it is a way of putting them down, then they have the associative problem of thinking of the product as a low-brow one, not me. American Cheese is not a "guilty pleasure" to me.