Fox News Doesn’t Understand What a Grilled Cheese Sandwich Is

Pizza Hut loves their temporary menu items, which often involves shoving things like hot dogs and garlic knots into the crust of a large pie to both comfort and clog our hearts.  Their latest, the grilled cheese pizza, seems to have confused Fox News over the definition of both “grilled” and “cheese.”

 Author’s note: I prefer to write about upbeat, positive things rather than complain about what’s wrong.  I make exceptions sometimes.  We need to indulge ourselves once in a while.  It’s not always healthy, but it makes us feel good.  So, this article serves the same purpose as eating the pizza it’s about: it’s a pleasurable activity designed to be conducted in moderation and should not be taken too seriously.

PizzaLet’s start with Fox News’ complaints, as posted in their article, as they provide a pretty good explanation of what this thing is at the same time:
Pizza Hut, the originator of the stuffed crust pizza, has just unveiled a Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza. It’s two all-American favorites in one…but there’s no American cheese.

The Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza crust is stuffed with cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, then topped with toasted breadcrumbs and melted butter for an artery-clogging explosion of gooey cheesiness. 

A large one-topping Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza costs $12.99.

The pie may not be as outrageous as the chain’s Hot Dog Bites pizza-– a whole pie ringed with pigs-in-a-blanket that came out in 2015– but some are knocking the chain’s new grilled cheese pie since it doesn’t appear to be grilled and doesn’t incorporate American cheese.
Honestly, I can’t tell if Fox News believes it’s a problem that a grilled cheese product can exist without American cheese or touching a grill or if they’re echoing sentiments online they failed to source in their post.  Either way, they seem to have misunderstood the modern definition of a grilled cheese sandwich and its main ingredient: cheese, itself.
Pizza Hut’s latest myocardial infarction-inducing ingestible both includes cheese and fits the incredibly loose definition of “grilled cheese” about as much as two slices of white bread with a Kraft single in the middle, heated up to make what some people consider food.  (That’s not to say I wouldn’t eat one.)  According to Fox News’ criticism, a grilled cheese must both be grilled and contain American cheese.  The former is a reasonable assumption, despite being a bit off the mark, but the latter makes absolutely no sense.  Let’s break this down.

We Rarely (and also Never) Grill Cheese

grill melting cheddar cheese for meals close up

When was the last time you fired up a grill and threw a piece of cheese on it, all alone, hoping to gain some smokey flavor?  Have you, or anyone you’ve ever known or even heard of, purposefully grilled a slice of cheese just to eat it?  Grilled cheese is not a literal name.  So, putting semantics aside, “grilled cheese” generally refers to a grilled cheese sandwich.  But that, too, is rarely grilled.  If it is, we’re grilling the bread and not the cheese.

Pizza Hut likely is not grilling the crust of their pizza to adhere to the literal definition of a grilled cheese sandwich, likely because practically nobody else does and they’re making a pizza.  Serendipity’s Frozen Hot Chocolate isn’t actually hot at any point in the process of making it, but it gives you a clear idea of the flavor, temperature, and texture of the treat.  That’s just a clever use of language.  Because who wants to order a “Cold Chocolate,” right?

Grilled Cheese And FriesSo while I readily admit the angle of this article is pointless for exactly the same reason, I’m writing it because if I’m going to bitch and moan about a subject it’s going to be how little it takes to encourage anyone to post a gripe these days.  Sometimes, it’s just better to say “here’s a crazy new pizza you can enjoy if health and longevity isn’t one of your life goals.”  You still get to complain, but at least it’s about something real.

But in case you need some sort of evidence, just go look up some grilled cheese recipes.  I’ll start with the top options on Google:

  • All Recipes’ Most Popular Grilled Cheese Sandwich: “Bread, butter and Cheddar cheese – here’s a way to make this classic sandwich in a nonstick pan.”
  • Food Network’s 50 Grilled Cheese Recipes: One of the recipes requests grilled zucchini, but only one of the 50 options (#47: “Truly Grilled Cheese”) asks you to use a grill.
  • Wikipedia’s Grilled Cheese Entry: Okay, so most people think Wikipedia is an unreliable source even though it’s pretty much on par with other academic sources people feel are more reputable (see Wikipedia’s argument as well), but we’re not talking about complex science or history here.  The article mentions that grilled cheese is more often cooked in a pan or griddle, so a griddled cheese sandwich would provide a more commonly accurate description.  Nevertheless, the English term version of cheese toastie also gets the job done accurately as toasting the bread just means browning it with heat.  So the most accurate description of a grilled cheese sandwich comes from the Brits, not Americans, which continues to call into question why Fox News thinks you need American “cheese” to make it count.  More on that later.

I’ll stop here, assuming you don’t want a detailed account of the numerous Google search results, recipes, history lessons, and other articles that back this up.  You’re probably smart enough to realize that nobody is heating up a cheese slice on a grill or that a grilled cheese sandwich rarely touches a grill.

As the realization sits in that you just wasted time you could’ve spent eating a grilled cheese or masturbating with the butter left on your hands, remember that I could’ve done that several times over instead of writing this pointless article.

American Cheese Isn’t Exactly Cheese

I thought we all knew that American cheese, while technically a dairy product isn’t exactly cheese.  Here’s how defines cheese:

[T]he curd of milk separated from the whey and prepared in many ways as a food.

Let’s take a look at how defines American cheese:

American cheese is processed cheese made from a blend of milk, milk fats and solids, with other fats and whey protein concentrates. At first it was made from a mixture of cheeses, more often than not Colby and Cheddar.

So while the stuff was originally a cheese combo, now it contains whey protein.  What doesn’t, according to the previous definition?  Cheese.  But it’s not not cheese, either.  (Phew, double negative.)  American cheese sits somewhere in dairy limbo, and food blog Serious Eats explains this situation best:

American cheese—even the “fancy” stuff you can get sliced at the deli counter—is not exactly cheese. But here’s the thing. Saying “American cheese is not cheese” is like saying “meatloaf is not meat.” Just as meatloaf is a product that is made by blending real meat with texture- and flavor-altering ingredients, so American cheese is a product made by blending real cheese with texture- and flavor-altering ingredients. In fact, percentage-wise, there’s a good chance that there’s more milk and cheese in your American cheese slices than there is meat in your meatloaf!
Processed cheeseYou can call it American cheese or call it an American dairy-adjacent food slice, but either way it isn’t magically a prerequisite for a grilled cheese sandwich.  America can’t monopolize the term cheese just because we eat a lot of it.  It’s a type of food and not a brand, like Kleenix and Chapstick.  (Both products are bad for you, by the way, as ingredients in Kleenix can irritate your skin and Chapstick actually dries your lips out because it’s full of humectants and no occlusives, unless you get the kind with petroleum.  Sorry!)
Few foods have actual nationalities even in spite of their names.  For example, fried potatoes aren’t inherently french fries.  Hell, even french fries aren’t actually French and Americans called them that because we’re stupid—and then tried to rename them freedom fries out of protest of a name our country brought into existence.  And don’t get me started on french toast.  (You can get yourself started here, though, if you’d like.)
I shouldn’t have to state this outright, but a grilled cheese sandwich does not require American cheese.  It just requires cheese.  Put whatever cheese you want between those slices of bread.  It still counts.

Pizza Hut Is More American Than Grilled Cheese

If you look at our eating habits in America, Pizza Hut might be one of the most American food providers available to us.  We’ve given pizza a fatty, unhealthy rebirth through mass production.  It’s not the worst thing you can eat—something on this list isif you make it yourself.  We like freedom of choice, so that DIY attitude is also very American.  But so are carbs, fats, salts, and sugars.  We like them, and we eat a lot of them in America.
PizzaWithout judging Pizza Hut for its choice to create these excessive concoctions, it’s still fair to say the have their finger on the pulse of America.  They are, after all, the number one pizza brand in the country.  We love our insanely ridiculous foods, and that’s okay—in moderation.  Everyone should enjoy a vice now and again, just not every day.  We need to remember that, because we die from a lot of them.
Heart disease rests comfortably at the top of the CDC’s leading cause of death, and cancer isn’t too far behind.  Take a look at the primary causes of both heart disease and cancer.  They’re not that different, and they’re primarily made up of vices like poor diet and smoking.  Obesity and lack of exercise can lead to cancer, too—it’s just a little more specific.
So when Pizza Hut releases a grilled cheese pizza and the focus of our complaints centers on its lack of American “cheese” or that it isn’t grilled, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.  It’s okay to like a grilled cheese pizza, but with the understanding that it’s going to kill you if you keep indulging in it and other foods of its ilk with regularity.
I sometimes struggle to understand why we have so much support “war” on drugs when many drugs—even illegal ones like cannabis and MDMA—actually have legitimate medical uses and we have evidence that drug assistance programs work a heck of a lot better than criminal punishment.  Then I remember that drugs show the downside of their abuse very quickly, whereas poor diet takes quite a while to bring about diabetes or heart disease.
Humans suck at thinking ahead, and so we end up with articles from Fox News that casually—yes, I understand it wasn’t a serious condemnation of Pizza Hut—criticize a grilled cheese pizza for having a titular misnomer rather than actually talk about why it’s really a problem.
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