Who knew? After last week’s column about Velveeta was published, I quickly discovered that lots of Thunker readers are passionate about the distinctive brick of bright orange non-cheese cheese. We either love Velveeta or we hate it, but most often we love it.
Oh, there are the honest, healthy eaters like Joan S., who said of the pasteurized prepared cheese product, “Yuck! Use some grown-up, real cheese and then you can tell me how truly good the food [you eat] is. ”
And then there’s the rare bird like Ed G., who said, “Sarah, have I been on the wrong planet? I’ve never even heard of Valveeta [his spelling]. ” Ed believes his kind wife, Marge, shielded him from the foreign fare of fake cheese. She did a good job since Velveeta has never crossed paths with Ed’s stomach. Either that or Marge put it in cheesy dishes without revealing that it wasn’t cheddar or colby Ed was eating.
The block of jiggly cheese-like stuff is known across the globe, thanks to folks like Susan A. She said, “We shipped Velveeta to China in 1982. It lasted forever and was a very welcome snack. [Preservatives are important to the overall Velveeta experience. ] Also, I made flour tortillas and added ‘cheese' at the end of cooking. ” Chinese. Mexican. See? It’s a global favorite.
Janis P. made me feel better about my willingness to indulge in a little imitation cheese every once in awhile. He said, “I really enjoyed the column about Velveeta, and who says you can't live a little! That being said, where's the dip you make with melted Velveeta? I'm wanting some now. Mac and cheese sounds kind of good, and melted Velveeta in tomato soup too. ”
“Better go buy yourself a couple boxes of Velveeta,” I replied.
“It would probably be around longer than me!” he said. [Proof positive: I’ve never seen a block of Velveeta turn green and fuzzy. Hard and crusty, when the package didn’t get sealed up tight before it went into the fridge, but never moldy.]
Ann B. admitted her cheesy transgressions: “I’m at the confessional: I didn’t make many sandwiches for the kids but I made everything with or in a wonderful cheese sauce made always with part of a block of ‘V.’ Block after block after block... Then not that many years ago I learned it wasn’t really cheese. On top of that we would have treats at Dairy Queen... that’s not ice cream!! It’s a wonder my kids are alive!!!!!!! [Ann has served up a fair bit of “alternate foods”—and her fair share of exclamation points too. ]
Ann wasn’t the only one to admit her fall from grace. Mark K. shared his secret: “My ‘hidden item’ at Safeway is Pork Rinds! (Don't judge me!) See, the thing is, Mel uses them as a Keto-friendly substitute for bread crumbs for chicken coating. We’re having it tonight in fact and it’s amazing! ‘Course the fact that I feel the need to explain the purchase says it all, yeah? Lol!” [Mark doesn’t need to explain anything. We understand all too well.]
Kathy H. too, felt compelled to confess. “You brought back memories of all those not-so-good-for-you but oh-so-tasty foods. The item I have to apologize for in the check-out line is Kraft macaroni and cheese. At 31 cents a box in the 1980s and ’90s, it was my go-to when I needed to make a quick and easy lunch for our three kids. I would often mix in tuna fish, a can of mushrooms, and a dollop of sour cream. And they would eat it! I don’t know if any of them still do, but I made it last month when staying in an Airbnb with a friend – and she liked it, too.” [Gourmet Kraft mac and cheese! I think I’ll try this, except I’ll use Velveeta in place of the neon orange powder Kraft claims is cheese.]
Speaking of gourmet, James W. admitted to his use of American cheese, which is right next to Velveeta on the fake food-o-meter. “I do take pride in my homemade mac and cheese with chunks of ham, and have mastered the toasted cheese sandwich, or as my kids used to call it, the ‘girl cheese samich.’ American cheese slices, dill pickle slices, mayo on the outside (instead of butter), sometimes a slice of deli beef on the cheese.
“Thanks for the column,” he continued. “It brought back great memories of marshmallow salads and Velveeta smeared on Ritz crackers. (My own sin, the thing I ask cashiers at Kings not to mention, are the little cans of Vienna sausages.)” [Atta boy, James. I wonder if he’s tried pouring some melted Velveeta over those Vienna sausages. Hmmm…]
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© 2021 Sarah Donohoe