Food - Drink
Why Washington State University Sells Canned Cheese
By MEGGAN ROBINSON
When we think of great cheese, we picture “fancy” cheeses with different flavors and textures, ranging from soft and sharp to crumbly and rich. Canned cheese generally isn’t considered to be tasty or worth a decent price, since it often evokes memories of the “squeezy cheese” we used as kids, but Washington State University begs to differ.
In the 1930s, WSU began researching canned cheese at their own creamery in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. Backed by the U.S. government and the American Can Company, WSU researchers set out to create delicious cheese in sanitary cans, since plastic was not yet invented and wax vessels often cracked, enabling contamination.
Thanks to Dr. N.S. Golding and others, WSU's Cougar Gold cheese was born, and is sold in a can to this day. WSU claims that their cheese keeps indefinitely, and Bon Appétit’s Jessica Kelly, who tasted the cheese as a skeptic, called Canned Cougar Gold "one of the best cheddars I’d ever had" with a "creamy, silky texture, with a nice sharpness to it."
Cougar Gold's classic aged white cheddar is certainly the most popular flavor, but WSU also sells a Natural Cheddar, a Smoky Cheddar with natural smoke flavoring, and a variety called Viking, a white semi-soft cheese with variations including with dill, basil, and spicy peppers. All the cheeses are shipped in 30-ounce cans with prices starting at $27, plus shipping.