The epitome of American food

7 11 2010

There is no better American invention than the bacon burger. 

When I lived off cafeteria food my freshman year of college, I had a bacon burger nearly every day for lunch. Probably not the healthiest option…but man were they good.

Now, if bacon burgers are on one end of the of unhealthy American food spectrum, the food that lies on the other end can only be one thing: spray cheese.

I grew up calling it Cheez Whiz, but apparently that refers to equally-processed cheese dip and the correct term for Kraft’s spray cheese is Easy Cheese.

Easy indeed. When it comes to pasteurization and processing, you can’t get any more Americanized unless you eat a Chicken McNugget.  Put Velveeta in a toothpaste tube (or a hairspray can), and you’ve got Easy Cheese. Yum, yum.

When I saw the section of Easy Cheese in the grocery store, I almost passed it by. Everyone knows what aerosol cheese tastes like — no need to rehash it. But next to the regular flavors — Cheddar, American and Sharp Cheddar — the word “bacon” caught my eye (as it usually does under any circumstances).

Cheddar ‘n Bacon Easy Cheese. Would it be enough to balance out my disgust for spray cheese with my love for bacon burgers? I was about to find out.

When I got home, I frantically searched the pantry for Ritz crackers (because everyone knows processed cheese and Ritz go together like peanut butter and jelly), but all I could find were Town House Flipsides. Close enough.

I put (er, squirted?) what I thought was a fairly standard amount of cheese onto a cracker, covering one side. And then I ate it. 

My first impression was that the texture was really not all that pleasant. If you took away the flavor, I would have been chewing sawdust and paste.

But the flavor was the point, so that’s what I focused on as I ate it. (In fact, I’ll bet no one has ever eaten cheese on a cracker as contemplatively as I did.) By the time I was finished, I felt…conflicted.

If the can hadn’t informed me that it was supposed to be bacon-flavored, I don’t think I would have known. I could definitely taste the cheddar, and I tasted something saltier mixed in, but I wouldn’t have been able to identify it without the label.

I suppose it was disappointing more than anything. Spray cheese is spray cheese, but if you add bacon to it (or to anything), I’ll be more inclined to buy it. However, if I can barely tell it’s supposed to taste like bacon, it quickly loses its appeal.

Overall, the promise of bacon wasn’t enough to outweigh the fact that processed cheese is just…not good. There are much more terrible foods out there, but I can’t imagine buying this for any reason other than as a cheap, quasi-healthy snack. (After all, it does contain protein.)

In the end, bacon or no bacon, anything that has to be described as a “pasteurized cheese snack” is simply…


Ingredients: Cheddar cheese (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), water, whey protein concentrate, canola oil, milk protein concentrate, contains less than 2% of sodium citrate, sodium phosphate, calcium phosphate, salt, lactic acid, sorbic acid as a preservative, natural flavor, yeast extract, monosodium glutamate, tomato powder, bacon (cured with water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrate), spice, lactose, dried onions, apocarotenal (color), annatto (color), artificial color and caramel color.
Price: $3.50 at Safeway
Pros: Bacon. Kind of.
Cons: It’s spray cheese no matter how you swing it, and the list of ingredients is longer than my grocery list.

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