National Grilled Cheese Day is an unofficial holiday which celebrates one of the most popular comfort foods on the planet: the grilled cheese. On this holiday, which just so happens to fall on April 12th, people all over the U.S and the world make themselves their favorite version of a grilled cheese sandwich. Which probably means this is one of the most delicious holidays on the calendar.
The History of Grilled Cheese
If you want to be technical about it, the pairing of bread and cheese together is something which has happened since ancient times. In fact, it was the ancient Romans who really made a point of serving bread and cheese together. However, the grilled cheese of today is really sort of a modern concoction. And it only came about because of two very important inventions: bread slicers and modern American cheese.
In 1911, James L. Kraft invented and popularized processed cheese describing it as “American Cheese.” It immediately became popular in the U.S because of its unique flavor and because it was less expensive than traditional cheddar cheeses that were sold in the United States. This was the most important part of the modern grilled cheese sandwich but there was still something missing. Commercially available sliced bread would still have to be invented and that didn’t occur until 1928.
In 1912, Otto Frederick Rohwedder invented a bread slicing machine that was capable of slicing loaves of bread one-at-a-time. Unfortunately, that bread slicer would end up being destroyed in a fire that same year and it wouldn’t be until 1928 that he finally had a working bread slicer available for sale to the public. That same year, a baker in St. Louis, Mo. named Gustav Papendick purchased one of these bread slicing machines and decided to come up with a way to package the loaves of bread once they had been sliced. After a few trials and errors, he finally invented a way to hold the sliced bread together so it could be wrapped. This would form the basis for mechanized wrapping machines to come.
Now, all that was needed was someone to put the sliced bread and the processed American cheese together. Which happened not long after that. While no one really knows exactly when the grilled cheese sandwich was invented, it is known that by the time the Great Depression began in 1929, Grilled Cheese was already an American staple. And it became even more popular after Wonder Bread began selling sliced bread on a national level. See. Wonder Bread, which had been selling bread nationally since they were bought by Continental Baking Company in 1925, began selling their bread sliced in 1930. This finally brought sliced bread to the masses and helped make the already popular grilled cheese sandwich even more popular.
The grilled cheese sandwich was popular during the Great Depression because it was filling, delicious, easy to make and most importantly, inexpensive. So it’s not surprising that when World War II began, many soldiers and sailors decided to take the grilled cheese sandwich with them. This introduced Europeans to the modern grilled cheese sandwich and before long it became not only an American sensation but a worldwide sensation. While it has remained pretty much the same as it was almost 100 years ago, nowadays many people have begun to make their own versions of the grilled cheese sandwich.
A funny fact about grilled cheese sandwiches, however, is that while they were popular from the Great Depression to the present, they haven’t always been called grilled cheese sandwiches. They were originally called “Cheese Dream” and they were served open faced. During World War II, the top piece of bread was added and the sandwich was simply called “cheese filled sandwiches.” It wouldn’t be until the 1960s that someone would dub this sandwich the grilled cheese sandwich.
National Grilled Cheese Day History
Unfortunately, while the history of the grilled cheese sandwich is pretty easy to trace, the history of National Grilled Cheese Day is a little bit harder to put your thumb on. However, it’s been speculated that it began sometime during the late 1990s.
Extra Gooey Grilled Cheese Facts
- The Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich was sold on eBay in 2004 for $28,000
- in 2006, Joey Chestnut ate 47 grilled cheese sandwiches to set a new world’s record
- American, Provolone, Cheddar and Mozzarella are all popular cheeses for this sandwich
- The average grilled cheese is just under 300 calories
Celebrating National Grilled Cheese Day
All you really need to do to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day is to grill up your favorite version of this iconic sandwich. You can either grill the traditional version of this sandwich or spice it up with bacon, pineapple, pepperoni, pickles or mayonnaise. After all, this sandwich is not only rooted in history but is also a flexible dish that can be molded to suit the person eating it.
Another way to celebrate this holiday is by throwing a grilled cheese party. You can make a whole bunch of grilled cheese sandwiches for your friends and family or you can invite each person to bring their own version of the grilled cheese. It’s a fun way to enjoy this simple comfort food.