It has been suggested that Kraft and other types of processed cheese product slices do not melt even when exposed directly to a flame. The implication from this demonstration is that these “fake cheese” slices should not be consumed.
Videos making this assertion have circulated since at least 2010 (some other debunking sites have erroneously stated that these rumors only began in December 2014), although a couple of videos in late 2014 went viral and even caught the attention of Kraft, the primary subject of these accusations. Commentator Glenn Beck also got in on the debate, with a short segment on the rumor. He described the popular video on Facebook (linked below) which demonstrates the claim as “disturbing.”
The video linked in the “Post” link below is perhaps the most popular on the topic, with over 13 million views on Facebook as of this writing.
Most of the videos have essentially the same claim and conclusion: These “cheese” slices will not melt, even when exposed directly to a flame. This in turn implies that the singles should not be eaten. Some commenters have attempted to compare the ingredients of imitation cheese to plastic.
Kraft Singles have existed since 1949, and an untold number of grilled cheese sandwiches have featured this iconic product with melted cheese slices.
Not all cheese (or cheese products) will melt when a hot flame is applied directly to it. In the case of Kraft Singles, they do melt when cooked at an appropriate temperature.
The video below was posted by Kraft in December 2014 in which they answer some of the questions as to why Kraft Singles don’t melt from direct heat.
In the video, we are told that the ingredients of Kraft Singles include cheddar cheese, milk, spices, natural preservatives, and emulsifiers. Emulsifiers are used to bind the fat and protein. A rep on the official Kraft Facebook page adds, “In fact, the fat and protein are bound so tight that they don’t separate even at high heat levels, like an open flame. In the case of natural cheese, where there are no emulsifiers to bind the protein and fat, heat causes the fat to separate and drip off as you would expect. On the other hand, KRAFT Singles need lower, longer heat for the cheese particles to melt and flow, thus creating the perfect, gooey, uniform melt that our fans know and love.”
Real or Imitation?
Discussion related to the lack of melting by Kraft Singles has led to discussion as to whether the product is cheese at all. According to Fooducate, Kraft Singles are labeled as a “cheese product.” The site points out that, “It cannot be called cheese because less than 51% of it is actually cheese.” The emulsifiers mentioned by Kraft are also described as an ingredient used to increase shelf life and maintain appearance.
Other “Melting” Conspiracies
Melting appears to be a favorite point of contention among conspiracy theorists. When something doesn’t melt in a manner which is expected, it is often suggested that something devious may lie under the surface. The 9/11 conspiracy video “Loose Change” made the assertion that the Twin Towers were likely imploded because jet fuel doesn’t burn hot enough to melt the steel beams holding them up. Popular Mechanics, however, noted that the steel frames didn’t need to completely melt, but merely be weakened enough to lose strength.
In early 2014, conspiracy theorists claimed that “fake snow” had been falling across the United States. This was “proven” in YouTube videos by people holding up torches to recently-fallen snow, which turned to soot instead of melting. As it turned out, it was butane residue appearing as soot, and the water was wicking up into the remainder of the snowball.
Several videos online show Kraft Singles which do not melt when exposed to a direct flame. Not all cheeses or cheese products melt when this type of direct heat is applied.
Glenn Beck’s panelist Stu Burguiere perhaps provided the most obvious response, stating, “They use that cheese all the time and it melts all the time. I just never have tried it over an open lighter. That’s not how you use the product.”