It’s official: Americans (or at least Millennials) have fully fallen out of love with American cheese. Over the last year, the big food chains have dropped the cheese from their menus, as Bloomberg pointed out. What’s replacing the bright orange staple? A whole lot of artisan cheese with ingredients you can actually pronounce.
Panera Bread has removed American cheese from its beloved grilled cheeses and moved onto Fontina, cheddar, Monteau, and smoked Gouda. McDonald’s has reinvented its American slice—now without all the preservatives. Wendy’s is on the Asiago grind. A&W’s Canada outposts switched to real cheddar. The list goes on and on. According to Bloomberg, ditching American cheese is actually the right move, too—the sales at these chains have gone up since their switch.
We don’t blame customers for wanting to recognize the list of ingredients that make up their favorite burger topping. Cheese can actually be healthy (yes, even the full-fat kind). But American cheese, specifically Kraft’s famous slices, are not.
Technically, they’re a “cheese product,” and according to the FDA, these products don’t even contain enough real cheese in them to even be categorized as cheese. If that’s not enough of a red flag, one slice has a mixture of over 16 ingredients, such as milk protein concentrate, whey, and processed additives you probably can’t recognize, nor want to eat.
According to Euromonitor International, as reported by Bloomberg, sales of the once popular cheese are now in their fourth quarter of decline. Kraft Singles and Velveeta, the two brands you can find on stadium nachos and barbecue burgers, are projected to drop 1.6 percent this year. In the wake of an era where organic is everything, we are more than happy to wave goodbye to the neon cheese after a century of grilled cheese domination. With so many good cheeses out there to try, it’s about time you got started on the real thing!