Kraft Singles aren't actually cheese. Here's why

Kraft Singles are a staple for a lot of people – after all, there's nothing easier for sandwiches or grilled cheese than those individually wrapped slices. But despite their flavor and appearance, Kraft Singles aren't really cheese at all. It doesn't make them any less delicious, but according to Vox, Kraft Singles can't legally be called cheese. Instead, calling them a cheese food product is more accurate.

Real cheese is made from milk, rennet, and salt, while Kraft Singles have quite a few other ingredients that make them not technically real cheese. Mental Floss reports that Kraft Singles have a whole laundry list of ingredients, including milk, whey, milk protein concentrate, milkfat, and a host of other ingredients that appear in small quantities, like sodium phosphate, sorbic acid, and paprika extract (which helps gives each slice its signature yellow color). When you mix all of them together, Kraft Singles are less than 51 percent real cheese, which is why it can't legally be called cheese.

What Kraft Singles are really made of

The list of ingredients isn't exactly clear, but what's obvious is that Kraft Singles aren't the most traditional cheese you can find. According to Business Insider, Kraft American cheese is usually a mixture of other cheeses that have been melted together. In an interview with Business Insider, Michael Tunick, a research chemist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, explains that J.L. Kraft created Kraft American cheese because he was trying to get rid of some older cheeses.

Kraft's solution, according to Extra Crispy, was to melt down all of the unusable pieces of cheese he had, then blend them together with a few other ingredients. The result was single slices of American cheese. Though Kraft was the first to process cheese this way, other manufacturers started to follow suit, which is why you'll see products on shelves like Velveeta and Kraft Singles that taste like cheese but have labels like "pasteurized processed cheese food."

Though it doesn't sound very appetizing, it's completely legal to make cheese this way, as long as its label calls out that it's processed cheese, not real cheese. Hopefully knowing where it really comes from doesn't ruin Kraft Singles for you, but despite its less-than-appetizing origins, it's still one of the easiest cheese to toss on your sandwich when you're craving an epic cheese pull.