Oh, how we love a grilled cheese sandwich. Two pieces of buttered bread toasted until golden brown with ooey gooey cheese inside. It’s a sandwich that puts a smile on the face of both kids and adults. But, have you ever wondered who invented the grilled cheese?
We did and you know what we found out? No one seems to know!
The idea of grilling bread and cheese has been around for centuries. Roman cookbooks say to combine bread and cheese when eating dinner. In France, the Croque Monsieur (toasted bread, cheese, and ham) was first on menus in 1910.
Grilled cheese sandwiches became part of our everyday menu in the United States in the early 1900s.
People have seen the first reference to a “melted cheese” sandwich as early as 1902 in Sarah Tyson Rorer’s “Mrs. Rorer’s New Cookbook.” In other cookbooks, through the 1950s, some sort of a melted cheese sandwich recipe is featured.
Otto Frederick Rohwedder designed a machine that would slice bread in 1927 and by 1933 bakeries were producing and selling more sliced than unsliced loaves of bread.
During the Great Depression, people began eating open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches as a cost-effective meal. It’s thought, the second slice of bread was placed on top to make the sandwich more filling to sustain workers sometime during the Depression. Thus, the “toasted cheese” sandwich became more along the lines of the grilled cheese sandwich we know today.
Navy cooks followed a government-issued cookbook throughout World War II that included a recipe for an “American cheese filling sandwich.” As soldiers returned from the war, they became part of the American diet.
In 1916, James L. Kraft applied for a patent to make processed cheese. By 1949, Kraft Foods developed pre-packed sliced of cheese that were shelf-stable. It also did not congeal when melted (like cheddar could) so it turned into the go-to cheese for “toasted cheese” or “melted cheese” sandwiches. By the 1960s, this type of sandwich was referred to in print as a grilled cheese.
Over the years, the sandwich has evolved from two pieces of grilled bread and melted cheese. Now, it’s not just American cheese that’s used; people get creative with different cheese blends. Bacon and tomato are popular additions. Sliced white bread is now substituted with more gourmet bread like sourdough or rye. The one thing that hasn’t change, is the sandwich is comfort food at its finest.
If you’re looking for an economical comforting meal (with ingredients you may have handy), try one of these Blue Ribbon grilled cheese sandwiches.