Gee whiz, they’ve gone and ruined my Cheez Whiz

Kristi O’Harran

Kristi’s Notebook

AMy 48-year love affair with Cheez Whiz went kersplat. I’ve been dumped as painfully as when Jeff Scott spurned my affection in the eighth grade.

Like the Jeff wound, this anguish will linger deep in my gut, especially at lunchtime.

They are no longer selling the original 8- and 16-ounce glass jars of Cheez Whiz.

Oh sure, there are other fish in the sea, other cheese spreads at the market, but only Cheez Whiz graced my midday sandwiches since it was introduced in 1952. Kraft Foods recently started packaging what it still calls Cheez Whiz in wide-mouth jars.

The taste went from yummy to yuck in my book.

As the old jar started disappearing, I decided there must be some delay in shipping and went ahead and purchased the big-mouth jar. It’s supposed to make dipping easier. I noticed the texture was drier than the old product. In a rush to get to work, I slathered the spread from the new jar on my Wonder Bread and slipped it in a baggy.

At noon, I took a bite. What was this? It was kind of tangy and not in a good way. I couldn’t finish the meal. Fear set in. What if this was the only way to buy Cheez Whiz? What if I could never taste the original spread again?

Yikes.

Calling corporate headquarters for Kraft, I was told the spread in the new jar includes added "emollients" that makes it easier to melt. Comparing the list of ingredients, I found the culprit. The only addition is "partially hydrogenated soybean oil."

That must be the item that doesn’t taste good to me, but hydrogenated soybean oil is in my preferred mayonnaise, peanut butter and hot fudge topping.

Was I wrong about a new taste? Coworkers agreed to sample the product that I brought to work from home. Writer Scott North declined to participate saying he wouldn’t taste anything with the word "Whiz" in the title.

Newsroom folks including Andrew Wineke, Kate Reardon, Christina Harper, Rebecca Hover and Jim Haley, plus Larry Pomada, our building services manager, slapped the spread on Ritz crackers.

Here are the taster’s reports:

Andy, who can’t find Oscar Meyer Ham and Cheese Loaf, said the original had more bite in the aftertaste.

Kate, who said a few years back that the chocolate in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups was changed and isn’t as good, decided that the new Cheez Whiz looks gritty, is not as spreadable and has a milder taste.

Larry said there is a definite difference. He said the old one tasted more like an American cheese product and the new one was more like a cheddar. He liked both, but said he wouldn’t eat as much of the new because the taste would be overpowering.

Jim Haley said the new guy is a little tangier.

Rebecca said the new product is pastier, and the old one is saltier.

Christina said the new one had a sharper taste.

Vindication is sweet. I knew the new product tasted different. Ele Kennedy, a Kraft sales support assistant in Kent, said those awful words — Kraft will no longer sells the spread in the old jars. She said cheese in the new containers will heat more evenly in the microwave.

I never melted Cheez Whiz. When I want sauce on corn chips, I use Velveeta Cheese. Now there’s a delicious product. I guess when my last jar of Cheez Whiz is gone, I’ll bring Velveeta sandwiches to work. Local Albertsons and Safeways are already out of Cheez Whiz in the old jars. I think I got the last four containers at a QFC in Everett.

Losing the product takes me back 45 years. The youngest of three children, I was lucky that both my parents worked at our home locker plant in north Seattle. Dad was the butcher and mother wrapped meat.

When I walked home from morning kindergarten, Mom would be waiting with my favorite lunch. I ate my Cheez Whiz sandwich on a little stool in front of the TV while I watched "Wunda Wunda."

I called mother to tell her the product news. She said my dad loves the old Cheez Whiz. I asked her what he spread it on.

"Anything," mother said. "He gets out a knife and goes to town."

Dad and I will miss the old product. Even though Herald writer Scott North wouldn’t taste my favorite treat, he did contribute a haiku about the situation:

"They’ve now changed Cheez Whiz

Soft, orange treat in a jar

A loon’s mournful cry."

He captured my pain.

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