That’s the Power of Processed Cheese, Baby!

Yum! Creamy, dreamy queso goodness!

I live near one of those draft house cinemas; the wonderful kind that keeps the beer or wine flowing while you eat delicious treats and enjoy your movie. I’d been thinking a lot about my approaching viewing of the last Harry Potter movie, and thinking about Harry made me think of the draft house theater, which in turn caused me to think of my very favorite snack served there; queso and chips. Soon, my thoughts turned to cravings, and yesterday I was forced to begin my quest to find the components that made up the queso of my dreams. Luckily, my quest was short lived and went something like this:

Me: (to my friend Michelle) Hey, what do you think is in the draft house’s queso?

Michelle: I’m pretty sure it’s just Rotel and Velveeta…Oh! And those sliced pickled jalapenos.

Me: That sounds too simple.

Michelle: I’m pretty sure that’s it. Trust me.

Since Michelle had no reason to give me a bogus queso recipe, I made my way to the store to look for the three magic ingredients.

The can of Rotel and the glass jar of jalapenos had no effect on me as I placed them in my basket and made my way to the cheese aisle. It didn’t take long for me to find the familiar yellow rectangle with its accustomed red font screaming “Velveeta” on each

Processed never tasted so good!

side and boasting a $5.99 price for 32 ounces of pseudo cheesy goodness. I realized as I placed it in my cart that my last visitation with this product had been sometime in the late 1970s or early ‘80s.

Velveeta was the processed cheese product of my childhood. I have fond lunchtime memories of creamy tomato soup accompanied by toasty grilled cheese sandwiches filled with melty Velveeta. As my seven, ten, or fifteen year-old self dunked a triangle of sandwich into my soup, I never once considered Velveeta’s composition. It could have been crafted of yellow Play-Doh and dog hair and I would have eaten it because it tasted so darned good.

Once I made entrance into the exciting worlds of adulthood and motherhood, I began to actually consider what I was putting into the bodies of myself and my little minions. Words like preservatives, additives or processed had no place in our pantry or fridge, and my love affair with Velveeta fell by the wayside—until last night when I dipped my first tortilla chip into its creamy goodness. It was then I realized how much I’d missed seeing its quadrilateral form in the door of my refrigerator. And when my youngest daughter asked me what was in the dip, I couldn’t resist introducing her to the remaining quivering block of cheese product residing in its classic foil wrapper. Her taste testing led to a discussion of bubbling mac and cheese and burgers fresh from the grill with gooey cheese product dripping down their sides. It brought back memories of backyard “picnics” by my plastic kiddie pool and packed lunches with thick slices of Velveeta on whole wheat with mustard. Soon my daughter and I were making plans for a lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

I’ve heard our sense of smell evokes our strongest memories, but I have to believe that taste runs a strong second. The foods of our childhood are time machines, linking us to the warm comforting memories of our past. Though its label may feature words that I’ve tried to eliminate from our food vocabulary, Velveeta’s ability to catapult me to simpler times may just make it a permanent fixture on my refrigerator shelf.

What are some foods of your childhood that take you back in time?

Darling daughter delves into delightful dip!

Classic Rotel and Velveeta Queso Dip

1- 10 oz. can of Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies (do not drain)

1- 16 oz. package of Velveeta cut into 1 inch cubes

Heat together on a medium setting, stirring constantly, until creamy

Garnish with pickled jalapenos and enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips!

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14 thoughts on “That’s the Power of Processed Cheese, Baby!

  1. I relate to the process you describe with food! It was Li’l D’s impending eating-of-solids that made me realize I didn’t want him eating the kinds of things I’d been eating almost exclusively since moving out of my mom’s house.

    My favorite foods from childhood are ones I haven’t found often in like form to that I experienced them in! My favorites were enchilada pie and chicken casserole. If I found either of these things that smelled just the way my mom used to make ’em, v*g*ism be damned! Man, even the thought of that makes my mouth water . . .

    I remember smelling something at the office a couple of years ago that made me feel as if I were standing in Mom’s kitchen. Whoever was eating it offered me some, and I prepared to be transported back . . . but despite the smell, the similarity of taste was not there! I know it was a pastry, but I can’t remember exactly what it was–cinnamon rolls, maybe?

    The taste of watermelon reminds me of sitting on my mom’s front porch with my siblings, but I have it so often (an amount that was redoubled during pregnancy!) that the fallback feeling isn’t as strong each individual time.

    • Now my mouth is watering! My mother used to make a chicken pie with a biscuit crust that was to die for! She served it with a romaine salad with homemade dressing and iced tea. Every so often I’ll duplicate the exact meal. YUM!

      When I was pregnant with my youngest I craved watermelon like a beast. My MIL grew the round type in her garden and I would cut them in half and eat the whole thing in one setting. (Better than eating a cheesecake in one setting!)

      Is Li’l D. an adventurous eater? I was very lucky that both of mine would eat anything I offered them. 🙂

  2. Sprinkles! This is so weird! I just wrote a food post and here you are! 😉 My post will be comin’ round the mountain. eventually and I’ll try to remember to link up here, cuz why not? Great minds think alike, right?

    I will tell you that I do have a love for Squeeze Cheese in the can — which as you know is a first cousin to Velveeta. Only it is slightly more disgusting because, you know, it’s in a can. But you can make pretty flowers with it.

    So. 😉

    • What a coinky dink! Neither of us usually do food posts. You go right on an link up with me!

      My husband (the terrible eater) eats squeeze cheese. He keeps some in his desk drawer at work.:(
      I remember making “fancy” flowers with it on crackers in my teen years. I felt like Martha Stewart! 🙂

      • I feel I have to jump in at this point and make a comment…I never make food posts, as I have a couple food blogs for that, also ignored the past several months. And late last night, I made a food post! Duck Breast with a salad, vinaigrette and baby yukons and portabellos fried in rendered duck fat! I even became so self concious before going out to lunch today, that I hit the “Private” button, and hid the contents of that post. Came home after early dinner out, and hit “Public” again…changed my mind. Decided, everyone eats, and this salad with duck breast was kick ass.

        Guess it just goes to show, sometimes, there just must be something in the air around all of us! ;D

        Uh, great post BTW- my Mom also totally rocked the grilled Velveeta cheese sandwhiches with Cambells tomato soup, every Sunday night, after a day spent running and playing in the country woods at my Grandmothers cabin / summer place.

      • Mmmmm, Spectra, that sounds delicious! I’m going to go check out your blog right now. I’ve eaten pathetically today: 2 cups of coffee and a handful of dry cereal, a horrific sandwich at Applebee’s (yuck!) and some pretzels while stuck in a HUGE traffic jam. I’m hungry now, but it’s too late to eat. 😦

  3. Cheese Wiz! I was one of the unfortunate kids with an uber healthy mom. Seriously, I considered dried banana chips dessert until I was in high school. I was surrounded by chip-munching teenagers in the lunchroom the first time I tried Doritos, and got a look or two when I nearly did a herky from sheer excitement.

    • My mom was into the healthy stuff, too, but I think Velveeta’s supreme meltability won her over. I’ve actually never tried Cheese Wiz! Now I’m wondering what I’m missing! I wasn’t allowed Doritos either, They have MSG in them and my mom was pretty certain that it would kill you. I was in college when I first tried them–actually college was where I first tried a whole bunch of stuff!! 🙂

  4. We never had the processed cheese stuff, although I do have a thing for the ultra-processed nachos cheese we’d get at the movies, too. And I just love a cinema drafthouse!

    The thing we were allowed to have sometimes when we were kids was Fluff. Oh how I loved it with peanut butter in a sandwich! Or straight out of the jar! It didn’t last long in our house, though, and my mother didn’t buy it too often. I have a feeling that I would probably vomit if I tried to eat it now, but I’m sure that first taste would be heaven. Let’s just see if I can stick to that one taste 😉

    Marshmallows were more common, and we’d roast some almost every night in the summer because we usually cooked on a hibachi. I was in charge of gathering the sticks for the marshmallows. To this day, I can not resist them. I limit myself to 2 or 4 (I have a thing about even numbers…I know…) so the violent stomach ache doesn’t ruin my appreciation, but I still know how to roast them perfectly 🙂

    • I’ve never had Fluff before–it sounds like I’m missing out! I love toasted marshmallows, too!! I like them between graham crackers. I’m not a big fan of Hershey bars so I always have non-chocolate smores. This past winter we got a craving and toasted some marshmallows on the stove top. They weren’t quite as good as over the fire, but they were still enjoyable! 🙂

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