Velveeta Cheese Advert, 1937
Velveeta isn’t a product I associate with either the UK or the 1930s, so I was surprised to see an advert for it in The Yorkshire Post from 1937. I don’t think it was sold for long in the UK though, not post-war anyway. It’s not cheese, it’s “cheese food”.
“The phosphorus in Velveeta makes it an important brain-food”, it says.
I first came across Velveeta processed cheese while living in Kentucky during a so-called “exchange year” in the early 1990s – I was a vegetarian at the time and I ended up eating quite a lot of it. It does make an amazing easy cheese sauce in the microwave, even though I’m not entirely sure exactly what it is, apart from being described as “American cheese”. Apparently, the official description of it now is “Pasteurized Recipe Cheese Product”. Mmmm.
I didn’t know it was as old as all that though, I thought of it as one of the convenience foods that sprung up in the 1950s. It always reminded me of Willy Loman complaining about American cheese in Death of a Salesman – “How can they whip cheese?” – and it being an indication of the zeitgeist, moving away from the traditional ways of life after the end of the War.
As every foodstuff apparently was, it’s presented here as being not only nourishing and good for you, but also suitable for invalids – very well catered for, the invalid demographic was.
More on that soon – invalid champagne, anyone?