by Kevin Coupe

America First may reflect the rhetoric de jour, but it does not, apparently, apply to cheese.

One by one, Bloomberg reports, “America’s food outlets are abandoning the century-old American staple. In many cases, they’re replacing it with fancier cheeses … Wendy’s is offering asiago. A&W’s Canada locations switched to real cheddar. McDonald’s is selling the Big Mac’s soft, orange square of American cheese with a version that doesn’t contain artificial preservatives. Cracker Barrel ditched its old-fashioned grilled cheese. So did Panera Bread, replacing American with a four-cheese combo of fontina, cheddar, monteau and smoked gouda.”

In each case, the story says, the result has been higher sales.

Indeed, the evidence is more than anecdotal: “U.S. sales of processed cheese, including brands like Kraft Singles and Velveeta, a mainstay of delicacies such as ballpark nachos, are projected to drop 1.6 percent this year, the fourth-straight year of declines, according to Euromonitor International.”

I think it says something good and Eye-Opening about the improving sophistication of the American palate … people are being exposed to more and better kinds of food, and it is having a real impact on consumption and commerce.

To be honest, I cannot even remember the last time I bought American cheese. Even when we make macaroni and cheese, it generally is with a variety of cheeses … and American is not among them.