National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day
annually on April 12th
A simple combination of bread, cheese, and a little butter has become one of the greatest comfort foods ever created: the grilled cheese sandwich! Cheese and bread have been being combined since the ancient Romans, but it wasn't until the twentieth century that the grilled cheese sandwich began to take shape.
Two factors set the stage for the rise of grilled cheese: inexpensive processed cheese and sliced bread. James L. Kraft opened his first cheese plant in 1914 in Illinois. The following year he invented pasteurized cheese—cheap processed cheese that wouldn't spoil when it was being transported long distances. Shortly thereafter, in the late 1920s, sliced bread came on the market. The sandwiches made at this time often had names like "toasted cheese" and "melted cheese." Recipes had grated cheese with a binder such as salad dressing, white sauce, or mustard.
During World War II, Navy cooks made "American cheese filling sandwiches" in the kitchens of ships. From the 1920s through the 1950s, most cooked cheese and bread sandwiches were served open-faced with grated cheese. Kraft Singles were introduced in 1949, changing the way grilled cheese sandwiches were made forever. By the 1960s, a second piece of bread was added on top, and "grilled cheese" became the most commonly used name for the sandwich. They became popular in cafes, diners, and cafeterias. In school cafeterias, tomato soup began being served with the sandwiches, so that Vitamin C requirements would be met. This pair has stood the test of time. Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches are becoming more popular in restaurants today, and consumers are exploring international varieties such as France's croque monsieur, which is a version of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich that has been around since the early twentieth century.
How to Observe
Celebrate the day by having a grilled cheese sandwich or two. There are many recipes you could try that expand on the basic cheese and bread sandwich. If you don't feel like making your own grilled cheese, enjoy one at a nearby restaurant, or go to one of the best restaurants for a grilled cheese sandwich in the country.