Sargento Cheese Taste-Off

Disclosure: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I received a $25 American Express gift card to purchase Sargento Cheese and a processed cheese for comparison. 

Before we get too far with this cheese-off, I have to admit that the whole idea seemed a little hilarious to me.  Do people really confuse processed cheese with “real” cheese?  Can they not tell the difference?  I mean, you can tell which cheese is the processed slice above just by looking – it’s the one with the plasticky shine to it.

We had Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Squares in the pantry (their version of Triscuits) and I totally forgot we had grapes in the fridge, so instead of a cheese snack tray, I kind of just ended up with cheese and crackers.  Which isn’t bad at all.  I went to Vons for this cheese trip, but all I really found were pre-sliced packages of cheese – does Sargento even make block cheese?  I picked up some baby swiss, sharp cheddar, muenster, and then “American” slices.

Sargento provided four steps to tasting cheese:

  1. Look at the cheese – The cheddar, baby swiss, and muenster had a good matte finish; the American slice was kind of shiny. It was actually shinier than I remember that stuff being.
  2. Touch the cheese – The baby swiss actually had a soft waxy feel to it.  The cheddar was smooth and the muenster was soft.  Not mushy soft, just soft.  The American cheese actually stuck to my finger and got kind of pasty.  All three natural cheeses broke when bent.  I don’t think you can break or bend cheese paste.
  3. Smell the cheese – Hee hee… I’m sure with time and practice I might be able to give you scent differences between cheddar and muenster and swiss cheese.  I do know a Brie smells different from a blue which smells different than goat cheese, but those weren’t among my snack crackers.  The American cheese didn’t really smell like plastic – it kind of didn’t smell like anything.
  4. Taste the cheese – Finally! I actually tasted the American cheese first because it’s been a long time since I remember trying it.  It kind of just tastes like salt.  Salt and sweetness and that American-cheese flavor.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  The baby swiss almost tasted like it needed more salt; the muenster was creamy and the cheddar was, well, cheddar-y.  Seriously – how do people describe the taste of cheese?  These weren’t earthy cheeses, or stinky ones, they were just tasty cheeses.  Sorry.  I’m a terrible cheese taster.
Now I’m going to confess that for a long time, when I was a kid, plastic-wrapped cheese slices were my favorite.  They melted quickly between two pieces of heavily buttered bread in a pan.  A 15-second zap in the microwave on top of a corn tortilla made an instant snack.  And they just had that childhood familiar flavor of not-cheese.
I also used to eat buttered spaghetti covered in Kraft grated parmesan cheese.  With garlic powder.
These days, grilled cheese sandwiches get made on whole wheat bread and sharp cheddar and apples, or swiss cheese, tomatoes, and bacon.  Tortillas don’t get microwaved, they are pressed into a grill pan and stuffed with monterey jack, green onions, and salsa.  Grated cheese gets to be mixed with booze to turn into beer cheese and brie is baked with brown sugar and cognac.
I will say American cheese is still the best for hiding doggie pills, mainly because of its ability to mold around the pill.  Less chance for the dog to eat the cheese and spit the pill out.  I don’t know about your dogs, but mine see right through those “pill pocket” treats.  Also, Cassie outright refused to eat her American cheese ball, so maybe she has the best taste out of the pack.  I had to scrape the cheese off and hide her pill inside a pancake.
Sargento cheese is good cheese.  When it’s on sale, it’s even better cheese!  In hindsight, I think a better taste test would have pit Sargento cheese against a store brand cheese, since the comparison with processed cheese is just a little silly.
So, tell me – what do I do now with all these American cheese slices??

7 responses to “Sargento Cheese Taste-Off

  1. I love a good cheese. I don’t eat the processed American slices anymore, but they have their place. Maybe you should try and make some fondue?

  2. I still buy the processed sharp cheddar for quick grilled cheese snacks but in our house, we refer to the American sliced cheese as “dog cheese.” –“Honey, could you pick up some dog cheese when you go to the grocery store?”

    Luckily, most of the dogs gulp their food so we can hide pills in the cheese. But every now and then, after I pick up the slimy cheese-smeared pill off the floor (the rest of the cheese has been consumed of course), I stick the pill in the back of their tongue and quickly shut their mouths! Ha, take that!

    I like Sargento cheese.

    • Travis convinced me to buy Velveeta for the dog pills once, expect you can only buy Velveeta in a ridiculously huge block. We still have half of it in the freezer. But, normally, American cheese is used as dog cheese. 🙂

      Except for the one dog who refuses to eat it.

  3. I avoid American cheese when possible. I didn’t like cheese when I was growing up, so it was easy to avoid American cheese. I’ll buy Velveeta to make a chili cheese dip, but you’re right – it’s a huge block. I could swear that it used to come in a smaller block.

    • I could have sworn Velveeta used to come in smaller blocks, too! Like the size of a regular block of cheddar.

      The “good” thing about American cheese is that it seems to last forever, so at least the dogs will have pill cheese for a long time.

  4. Yeah…I dunno, I felt the cheese tasted off in a bad way. I used it for some stove top enchiladas and it just wasn’t for me.

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