Grilled cheese sandwiches became popular with the advent of two key products: the bread slicer and processed cheese. The bread slicer was invented in 1928 by Frederick Rohwedder from Davenport Iowa, and made distributing white bread easy and affordable. Processed cheese was invented by an individual with a very recognizable name: James L. Kraft. Kraft developed a pasteurization process that ensured cheese wouldn’t spoil, even when travelling long distance. Essentially, James L. Kraft invented American cheese and began the legacy of Kraft Foods.
The first grilled cheese sandwiches served in the US were actually open faced sandwiches consisting of a slice of bread with grated cheese on top. In 1949, Kraft Foods introduced Kraft Singles-individually wrapped slices of American cheese, and stores began stocking Kraft Singles in 1965. About that same time, the second phase of the grilled cheese transformation begun…a second slice of bread. Likely the second peice of bread was added to make the sandwich more filling, and because of these two key changes, the grilled cheese sandwich as we know it today was born.
A few fun facts about grilled cheese sandwiches:
Approximately 3/4 of people who buy sliced cheese make at least one grilled cheese sandwich per month.
The term “grilled cheese” did not make an appearance in print until the 1960’s; prior to then it had been referred to as “toasted cheese”.
During WWII, Navy Cooks prepared grilled cheese sandwiches on Navy ships as instructed by government issued cookbooks. These sandwiches were called “American Cheese Filling Sandwiches”.
Grilled cheese sandwiches are most commonly served with a bowl of soup. Tomato soup is the most popular type of soup to serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.
Since grilled cheese sandwiches are most often served with a bowl of tomato soup, here are a few tomato soup recipes that will go perfectly with your celebratory grilled cheese sandwich. Happy National Grilled Cheese Month!
Tomato Bisque Soup from From Calculus to Cupcakes
Indian Spiced Bean and Tomato Soup from Feeding Big
Creamy Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Soup from I Wash You Dry
For more great soup recipes, check out the Daily Dish Magazine’s Recipe Collection: 20 Soups to Warm your Heart and stay tuned for a collection of the best grilled cheese sandwich recipes in honor of National Grilled Cheese Month!