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Old 10-11-2018, 07:11 PM
kayakjohn kayakjohn is offline
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Default Anybody make cheese like that anymore??



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as a kid growing up in the midwest (moved to the Dakotas in '79 from upstate NY where i was born) we had some tough times but made it through.

one of my fondest food memories of the 80's was going to get big blocks of , i think it was American, cheese that the government gave out. That was the BEST cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese for ham or other sandwiches. it was seriously dense and was hard to slice with the cheese slicer.

anybody remember that stuff?!? and more important, is there anything like that being made today?!? just thinking about it makes me hungry.....

thank you!

EDIT to add: shoulda also asked if it comes in a brick like it used to, but even if i can find a bag of slices, itll take me back to yesteryear.
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Old 10-11-2018, 07:34 PM
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Yes it was good. The closest I have found is deluxe American cheese. Several folks make it and Walmart's brand isn't band. But it's not cheap. Go figure
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Old 10-11-2018, 07:42 PM
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Once when I was a kid my grandmother had some of that government cheese that was so sharp you couldn't make it edible even as grilled cheese.
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Old 10-11-2018, 07:43 PM
francessanne francessanne is offline
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the stuff we got was so salty it was inedible. threw it out
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:09 PM
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The commodity canned pork was good as well.
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:12 PM
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Cooper American cheese is what we used on board ship for grilled cheese, omlets, sandwiches, etc. Comes in both yellow and white, normally in 10 pound bricks for commercial food service.

We buy at Weiss Markets or Food Lion in the deli section and get it sliced as we like.

https://www.coopercheese.com/

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/cooper-american-cheese

You can also buy it from Amazon or Walmart, Wegmans, or the Penn State Creamery:

https://www.amazon.com/Cooper-Brand-.../dp/B00DE0V5EI

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Cooper-Sh...-5-Lb/15136820
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:58 PM
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People have claimed Sam's club...
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Old 10-11-2018, 09:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nomad, 2nd View Post
People have claimed Sam's club...
Sam's Club is owned by Walmart and carries Cooper cheese.
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:06 PM
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Sam's Club used to have it. Up until just a few months ago and they switched brands. The new stuff looked the same so I bought it hoping it was. It's not. The original was Bakers and Chefs, and was available in 5 pound loafs or sliced for about $2 a pound. The new stuff is something like Chef's Choice or whatever. Not the same thing, but still better than the sandwich slices in the store.

I see that they have now dropped the new brand also and went with their Member's Mark brand. Typically, their brand is never as good as what it replaced. But they may be rebranding the original cheese. I still have a few pounds left, so I'm not going to try it.
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Old 10-12-2018, 12:30 AM
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Yep. Commodity cheese. It was the best. I've never found it again.
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Old 10-12-2018, 01:56 AM
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Internet discussions point primarily to to two brands that taste closest.

Land O' Lakes Easy Melt American and Field American Slices.

But you can never truly get a duplicate because of what happened with the government.

The "government cheese" time was the excess from a 1981 farm subsidy that went awry. Dairy farmers went crazy to make as much money from the government as fast as they could. But for a time the government was stuck sitting on it. Both at home and abroad the government tried to peddle it to get some money back. So it sat in cold warehouses so long until some USDA people were saying to dump it in the ocean. Fortunately the government had mandated strong export packaging.

Reagan finally caved in and released it to the food stamp program. By then the cheese had aged a lot and become sharper and saltier. So even if it is the same recipe it would taste blander unless they were willing to age it. I'm not surprised that some people compare to those sharp American versions a few companies sell today.

The government commodity recipe is far older than the 80's. Since WW2 there has been a standard, but up until the 80's general release it was used just for the military and public schools. But the stuff was normally rotated out faster. The government has been buying it for 70 years to take care of its own needs and to add stability to the dairy industry revenue. It is still bought and stored by the CCC (Commodity Credit Corporation), but at that time in the 80's they had hit a 250 thousand metric tons of excess in cheese holdings. That was several pounds of cheese for every American.

As a side note, it seems that the government is again facing a massive surplus of cheese. Over twice as much as we had stored in the 80's. But back then the release was due to public pressure from liberals trying to shame Reagan for his social welfare cutbacks. These days the liberals have turned to new weapons to shame with.

But who knows, we may just see the blocks going out again if the USDA starts complaining it has no room like back then.

I'm just hoping for the government to issue instructions on how to safely age big blocks of cheese in my fridge.
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Old 10-12-2018, 12:05 PM
kayakjohn kayakjohn is offline
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thanks everybody!1 and Iamzeke, thank you for the history lesson! i figured it was from the dairy subsidies but now its great to know more of the story
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Old 10-12-2018, 02:58 PM
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My memories of government cheese go way back before the 80's. Try the late 50's. We bought it in the military commissary in 10 pound blocks. Potatoes, Spam and cheese played a big part of my childhood diet because raising 6 kids on a tech-sgt. pay wasn't easy.
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Old 10-12-2018, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayakjohn View Post
...one of my fondest food memories of the 80's was going to get big blocks of , i think it was American, cheese that the government gave out....anybody remember that stuff?!? ..
Yep, I too, was a NY native (before we moved to Kalifornia when I was 4-ish..) and, although these memories are from Age 3-4 (talkin like '71-72, here..) I vividly remember that cheese.. We got "Co-op" peanut butter (..which I Also vividly remember being like eating the side of an Oak tree.. in 5 Gal buckets, and that Glorious Block of Golden Wonder...

...It was early motivation for wanting to become an Astronaut (..until we moved to Cali, and the Fireman-bug took hold, and that was the end of That..

..Ah, good memories..
jd
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Old 10-12-2018, 06:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BabyBlue View Post
My memories of government cheese go way back before the 80's. Try the late 50's. We bought it in the military commissary in 10 pound blocks. Potatoes, Spam and cheese played a big part of my childhood diet because raising 6 kids on a tech-sgt. pay wasn't easy.
I suspect it is still sold by base commissaries. Anyone with retired military card access should be able to find it.

Most base commissaries sell MRE's as well.
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Old 10-12-2018, 06:46 PM
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I ran across this for aging cheese.
https://cooking.stackexchange.com/qu...-bought-cheese
I have been waiting for a sale for tillamok block cheddar cheese. It does not have a wax package but the plastic wrapping is different and seems better than most cheese.
Wrap package in 2 layers of foil then newspaper. Store on cool shelf 3-9 months. Fridge is too cold, wine cooler is about right temperature but cool shelf works. not a government approved method but several people have been doing this for years. Not a copy of government cheese, for aging cheddar to make a sharper product. doing this with other cheeses was not recommended.
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Old 10-12-2018, 06:48 PM
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Never had any of the guberment cheese but remember the time frame.
The best tasting cheese by far I like is https://www.shullsburgcheesestore.com/
I can get it localy at a local supermarket but I need to stop in the cheese store next time I'm in Schullsberg.
Aged cheddar, colby,munster ect , I don't think there is a cheese I don't like...well maybe curds. Nope never warmed up to curds.
If I liked curds I'd be north of the cheddar curtain instead of just south.
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Old 10-12-2018, 06:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmas View Post
I ran across this for aging cheese.
https://cooking.stackexchange.com/qu...-bought-cheese
I have been waiting for a sale for tillamok block cheddar cheese. It does not have a wax package but the plastic wrapping is different and seems better than most cheese.
Wrap package in 2 layers of foil then newspaper. Store on cool shelf 3-9 months. Fridge is too cold, wine cooler is about right temperature but cool shelf works. not a government approved method but several people have been doing this for years. Not a copy of government cheese, for aging cheddar to make a sharper product. doing this with other cheeses was not recommended.
I have an old college dorm fridge in the garage I could adjust the temp on.

Set it to 50 and then toss the block in until it hits the best-by date.

You can buy these blocks cheap enough that a total failure is still less money than a 12 pack of beer.
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Old 10-12-2018, 07:24 PM
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Hmm. I usually buy kirkland cheese, about 25lbs at a time, which lasts me several months in my cold room, I never particularly noticed an aging effect but it was always in the original plastic and its usually below 50.

Quote:
But you can never truly get a duplicate because of what happened with the government.
That is a fascinating story. The time fits the period when my family was getting commodity cheese.
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Old 10-12-2018, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Aerindel View Post
Hmm. I usually buy kirkland cheese, about 25lbs at a time, which lasts me several months in my cold room, I never particularly noticed an aging effect but it was always in the original plastic and its usually below 50.
Reading about the proper aging of cheese tell that plastic isn't the right coating, but in the 80's that's what happened. But then again they say the semisoft cheeses aren't good for aging. Perhaps in this one case the plastic works and works on American. By rights this shouldn't have happened the way it did in the 80's to change the taste, but it did. I don't have the answers on how it happened then but I've got a mini fridge and this cheese isn't expensive. I'm game to test it.

Quote:
That is a fascinating story. The time fits the period when my family was getting commodity cheese.
I suspect every who went to public school or the military since WW2 has had it, but in fresher form.

The 80's was the big public dumping.
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