Food, Food Artisans

“This Cheese Stands Alone” – New York Times

March Cheese of the Month

When we began Zingerman’s Creamery, the first challenge we faced was; what cheeses do we want to make? And the second question was why?

I have always been interested in looking back at the origins of a cheese then examining if there is a disconnect from descriptions of the past and the descriptions of the present. Some cheeses remain pretty consistent with their ancestors while others have evolved to a point where they are unrecognizable. Variations of cream cheese have been around since the 11th century, but it wasn’t until the late 19th century that additional cream was added to what the French called Neufchatel that it became more recognizable to what we think of today as cream cheese.

In a 1918 Canadian Agriculture bulletin, farmers were encouraged to make cream cheese due to its relative ease of manufacture and high profiability. It also suggested that the cheese be sold within one week. About this time, supermarkets were just beginning to gain popularity and by 1930, the explosion was in full swing. The suburban migration of the 50s and 60s solidified self-serve convenience shopping for most people. Of course, the idea of getting your cream cheese to market in two days so that it could be sold within a week or two became a quaint and archaic impracticality.

Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, the Philadelphia Cheese Company was founded. Philadelphia developed a process of extending the shelf life that dovetailed neatly with the needs of the burgeoning supermarket industry. So, Cream Cheese changed to accommodate the market, not because it was better. So we set out to recreate the Cream Cheese experience of the past. The cheese is based on a recipe from 1936 written by then cheese guru John Langley Sammis. It was about ten years ago that Zingerman’s Creamery Cream Cheese was awarded first place at the prestigious American Cheese Society conference and the New York Times proclaimed, “This cheese stands alone.” 

– John Loomis, Creamery Managing Partner


Stop in for a taste today! 

Available at Zingerman’s Creamery and Zingerman’s Delicatessen.