Cream cheese has American roots

March 16, 2011 

Legend among the old-timers of Chester, N.Y., has it that a Mr. Green and his cheese-making friends were discussing a recipe for cream cheese when William Lawrence came by their barn. He heard them talking, stopped and listened through a knot-hole in the wall. When Lawrence heard the recipe, he promptly went home and made the cream cheese.

The American product known as cream cheese was made in the manner of Neufchatel, with extra cream added to the mixture. Lawrence labeled his product Philadelphia cream cheese (not to be confused with Philadelphia brand cream cheese) because he sent it to Philadelphia to be packaged and shipped to his buyers.

Early production amounted to only a few pounds a day. Made in small cylinders, the cheeses were rolled in tissue paper and padded with straw for shipping in boxes obtained from grocers.

Cream cheese production in Central New York began around 1880 at factories in McDonough, Afton and South Edmeston. The region was known for fine dairy herds. The high-quality cream cheese packed under the label of the "Philadelphia brand" was made in South Edmeston for nearly 100 years.

In 1924 J.L. Kraft and Brothers Co., which had produced and provided processed cheese to the U.S. armed forces in World War I, went public as Kraft Cheese Co. entered the cream cheese market. Four years later, Kraft merged with Phenix Cheese Co., continuing the production of Philadelphia brand cream cheese. Today it is one of the most famous soft white cheeses in the world.

Kraft Kitchen experts offer the following tips for a perfect cheesecake:

  • Soften Philadelphia Cream Cheese before using.

  • Use flat mixer paddle to combine cream cheese and other ingredients.

  • Mix cream cheese well at first preparation step to ease combination with other ingredients.

  • Thoroughly scrape bottom and sides of mixing bowl often.

  • Do not over mix cream cheese with other ingredients.

  • After eggs are added, mix at low speed, just enough to blend ingredients .

  • For best results, always use recommended pan size.

    Chocolate Lover's Cheesecake

    2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

    1/2 cup sugar

    1/2 teaspoon vanilla

    2 eggs

    4 squares Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted, slightly cooled

    1 ready-to-use chocolate crumb crust (6 ounces or 9-inch)

    Heat oven to 325 degrees.

    Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla at medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, mix until blended. Stir in melted chocolate.

    Pour into crust. Bake for 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Garnish with fresh fruit. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.

    Recipe from

    Fruit Smoothie Cheesecake

    2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

    1/3 cup sugar

    1 cup whole strawberries, pureed

    1 ripe banana, pureed

    1 tub (8 ounces) whipped topping, thawed

    1 (9-inch) graham cracker pie crust

    Fresh strawberries, for garnish

    Mix cream cheese and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gently stir in pureed fruit and whipped topping. Spoon into crust.

    Freeze 4 hours or overnight until firm. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until cheesecake can be cut easily. Garnish with fresh strawberries.

    Recipe from

    Citrus Fruit Cheesecake


    1 cup graham cracker crumbs

    1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted


    4 packages (32 total ounces) cream cheese, softened

    1 cup granulated sugar

    2 tablespoons flour

    1 teaspoon vanilla

    1 tablespoon each fresh lemon juice, lime juice and orange juice

    1/2 teaspoon each grated lemon peel, lime peel and orange peel

    4 eggs

    Mix crumbs, brown sugar and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch spring form pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes if using a silver spring form pan. (Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes if using a dark nonstick spring form pan.)

    Heat oven to 325 degrees.

    Mix cream cheese, granulated sugar, flour and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Blend in juices and peel. Add eggs, mixing on low speed just until blended. Pour over crust.

    Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

  • Port Royal resident Ervena Faulkner is a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. E-mail her at

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