Cheese Co-Op Launches Campaign to Remove ‘American’ from American Cheese

By Mike Pomranz |

© Bon Appetit / Alamy

Though I’m sure White House petitions have been used for more gratuitous reasons, Tillamook is certainly putting our POTUS’s patience to the test by asking cheese lovers to sign a petition asking him to support removing the title of “American” from “American cheese.”

Tillamook – the “award-winning, farmer-owned dairy co-op from Tillamook, Oregon” – has chosen the most American of holidays, the Fourth of July, to take dead aim at one of America’s saddest products, American cheese.  They’ve launched an ad campaign using animated versions of historically important US figures, like Abraham Lincoln and Betsy Ross, to condemn the typical sliced “pasteurized cheese food” as un-American, and the brand is encouraging people to sign a White House petition asking that we “remove America’s name from processed cheese.”

The petition, which specifically asks, “Out of respect for the hard work and integrity that our nation was built upon, we respectfully ask that these processed, plastic-wrapped slices of deception be stripped of America's name,” still needs well over 99,000 signatures to meet its goal of actually forcing a White House response.  So though you certainly can’t disagree with their sentiment that American cheese is crap, it’s yet to be seen if this idea really has any legs outside of being a funny marketing campaign.

As Mashable points out, in some ways, Americans have already won the battle, being that American cheese can’t even really call itself cheese.  “The Federal Drug Administration does not allow Kraft or other companies to label American cheese as ‘cheese,’ since it’s made with less than 51% real cheese and contain ingredients like sodium citrate, gelatin and lactic acid,” they write.  “American cheese commonly carries the description, ‘processed cheese product’ or ‘pasteurized cheese food’ on its package. Some store brands use the term ‘imitation’ or ‘prepared’ cheese and others, preferring to be even more vague, call their products ‘sandwich slices.’”

Still, Tillamook thinks the nation could use a bit of a reminder.  “We wanted to bring up the issue of real vs. unreal food at a culturally relevant moment, like when people are shopping for and celebrating a holiday,” said John Russell, Tillamook’s chief marketing officer. “They may not realize what processed cheese is, but we want them to think about it. And we believe something called American should be 100% natural, and American cheese is definitely not.”

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