The Ancient Romans were the first civilization to make a cooked bread and cheese sandwich, and it has remained popular ever since. The classic American grilled cheese sandwich dates from the 1920s when inexpensive cheese and affordable sliced bread became available.
Today, there are entire restaurants devoted to grilled cheese, and there is even a Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship.
The 2013 contest was on April 27 at the Iowa County Fairgrounds in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. If you went there, you would have be able to purchase grilled cheese sandwiches, of course, perhaps from the Chubby Cheese Truck (featuring the Gouda Girls)!
These are the competition categories:
Classic: any type of bread, real butter, and cheese. No additional ingredients.
Classic Plus One: a savory sandwich with any type of bread, “butter,” and Wisconsin cheese plus one additional ingredient. The interior ingredients must be at least 60% cheese.
Classic Plus Extras: a savory sandwich with any type of bread, “butter,” and Wisconsin cheese plus unlimited additional ingredients. However, the interior ingredients must still be at least 60% cheese.
Classic Dessert: any kind of bread, “butter,” and Wisconsin cheese plus additional ingredients to create an overall sweet (as opposed to savory) flavor that would be best served as a “dessert” grilled cheese sandwich. However, the interior ingredients must still be at least 60% cheese.
If you can’t get to Wisconsin, no problem! There will be Grilled Cheese Festivals all over the country!
The categories for “sammiches” in the Grilled Cheese Invitational in Los Angeles are quite whimsical:
Love, American Style : White bread, butter, orange cheese (American or Cheddar). NOTHING ELSE.
The Missionary Position: Any type of bread, butter and cheese. NO ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS.
The Kama Sutra: A sandwich of the savory nature, with any type of bread, butter and cheese PLUS additional ingredients, and the interior ingredients must be at least 60% cheese.
The Honey Pot: Any kind of bread, any kind of butter, and any kind of cheese, and the interior ingredients of the sammich must be at least 60% cheese, PLUS additional ingredients, and with an overall flavor that is sweet and would best be served as dessert.
If you’re on the West Coast, you can catch the Los Angeles festival on April 20th at Los Angeles Center Studios.
And there are scores of devotees who, even without access to a festival, at least on this one day, forget lactose intolerance and go for the thickest, meltiest, gooest sandwiches they can get!
Personally, I feel that nothing quite compares to a melty gooey grilled cheese. …except perhaps such a treat served with a vanilla milkshake.