A Cooper Sharp Cheese Jawn
Updated: May 28
I believe it was Lloyd Dobler who once famously said, “I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought or processed or repair anything sold, bought or processed.” I wonder if that included The Original Cooper Sharp Cheese. After all, despite the name, Cooper Sharp is a pasteurized processed American cheese.
American Cheese, An Endangered Species
In 1916, J.L. Kraft patented a process of turning Cheddar and Colby, along with additional whey, proteins and emulsifiers into a pasteurized cheese product. This new style of cheese made for a more sustained shelf life compared to traditional cheeses which allowed it to be used by the US military during both World Wars. Additionally, the cheese’s ability to evenly melt without breaking made it an obvious choice as the preferred cheese topping for the growing fast-food phenomena that was hitting the country during the fifties. By the time Clearfield Cheese started to produce individually wrapped slices, American Cheese had already become the country's most popular. A genuine turophile will swear that American cheese is not really a cheese. Technically they would be right but that doesn’t preclude it from making my top five favorite list. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with me. The millennial generation and their prioritization of health and wellness has caused a sharp decline in nationwide sales for six straight years. The public’s growing desire for natural ingredients with less preservatives has even infuenced chain restaurants like Starbucks and Panera Bread to now offer natural cheeses like gouda and cheddar to their menu. In Philly however, a regional American Cheese maker is flourishing. Trust me, a town that throws snowballs at Santa Claus sure as shit won’t be influenced by a bunch of wine drinking, selfie taking, doggo lovers- said with affection of course.
Don’t Be Fooled By The Name
As I opened with, Cooper Sharp Cheese is a processed American cheese made of milk and just seven ingredients, with a heavy essence of hand selected aged cheddar which creates its unique, almost nutty flavor. The company which started in Theresa, New York
in the late nineteenth century moved to Philadelphia in 1918. Since then, it has become as much a part of Philly’s vibrant food culture as soft pretzels and roast pork sandwiches. The cheese is insanely creamy without having an unctuous quality and the smooth melt and silkiness makes it a perfect compliment for the Philly Cheesesteak, even challenging Whiz and Provolone as the crowd favorite. Dave Portnoy’s recent cheesesteak video at Angelo’s Pizza in South Philly recieved his highest rating. The review of his “Cooper with” on Angelo’s home baked bread has over 400k views and the demand for the sandwich has never been greater. Meanwhile in Northeast Philly, husband and wife owners Joseph
and Anna Maria Maglio fuse their family’s Italian Roots and Philadelphia upbringing at Café Carmela to make the South Philly Pizzaz, a pizza with Cooper Sharp, fresh tomato, banana peppers and oregano. In Fishtown, check out the Asian inspired Furikake Cooper Sharp Cheese Fries at the Noodle & Japanese style pub food spot Cheu Fishtown & Nunu.
Want Some, Get Some
The Original Cooper Sharp cheese is available at most mega grocery stores throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area including South Jersey and Delaware. It’s also available online by the block at coopercheese.com and wegmans.com. But be on the lookout anywhere American Cheese is served as I have seen it on menus as far as Wildwood NJ to Northeast PA and all throughout the City of Brotherly Love.