“What do you want for lunch today? How about a grilled cheese sandwich?”
My four-year-old grandson exclaimed, “Yes!”
A few minutes later, he bit in and with a giggle, stretched out an eight-inch string of melted Colby-jack cheese. He did this over and over, enjoying every bite and every inch of the cheese.
So I’m wondering, “Why is a grilled cheese sandwich so good?” It is so good that there are restaurants dedicated to nothing but grilled cheese sandwiches.
When one of my daughters was playing high school lacrosse, I volunteered to work the concession stand. My job was to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Equipped with a loaf of white bread, a stack of Velveeta slices, margarine, and a spatula, I was in my glory. These items were very popular on cool spring evenings when fans just couldn’t endure another foil-wrapped hot dog or hamburger. And I quickly learned that a diagonal slice was critical to a successful melt.
Who came up with this idea? Who invented the grilled cheese sandwich?
Melting cheese on bread isn’t a new idea. Some ancient Roman texts refer to it. You can find it in French recipes from the early 1900’s. Navy cooks in World War II melted grated cheese on plenty of slices of bread.
In 1949, Kraft began selling “Kraft Singles,” individually wrapped slices of processed cheese. It was easier than ever to slap a few pieces between bread and cook for a few minutes on each in a frying pan. The sandwich was official called grilled cheese in the 1960’s.1
I like to imagine Moses and the nation of Israel trying to figure out something creative to do with manna about twenty years into the exodus. Maybe someone suggested, “Hey, I know. Take some of that flat bread and try melting goat cheese in the middle. Doesn’t that sound yummy?”
Who knows? All I know is that it’s good to be alive in the age of grilled cheese sandwiches.