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Springfield Illinois: The History of Grilled Cheese

A close-up picture of a grilled cheese sandwich.

Something that most food historians can agree on, is that for centuries, humans have paired bread with cheese, creating a delicious treat, known in Springfield, Illinois as a grilled cheese. Ancient Roman cookbooks recommended combining cheese with bread for a delicious meal. While there is evidence of grilled cheese going back centuries, it has been a more recent phenomenon and favorite for a lunchtime meal.

The 1920s – The Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Yes, historians agree that the concept of bread and cheese goes back long ago, nobody can pinpoint the exact origin of the this delicious cheesy melt. However, it did become quite popular in the 1920s. That is when most scholars speculate that the creative individual came up with the idea of a grilled cheese sandwich, and the idea took off in the commercial industry as well as at home.

A plate of delicious, cheesy Grilled CheeseStaple in American Diets

With the explosion of restaurant dining in the 1920s, cheap loaves of bread and processed cheese were a catalyst for public use of grilled cheese. By the time the Great Depression hit, grilled cheese sandwiches were a staple in America.

The Earliest Form of Grilled Cheese in the 1930s

In its earliest form, it was made open faced with American cheese that was grated, common toppings included tomatoes, eggs, bacon, and pineapple. Sooner Or Later, the sandwich started getting a second piece of bread to make the meal more filling. For poor Americans, this was an inexpensive option that gave them the nutrition they needed.

A Favorite During World War II

During World War II, a grilled cheese sandwich was a favorite amongst the Allied Armed Forces. Soon, it was in school cafeterias and housewives were incorporating it into their regular meal planning due to it being easy and cheap to make, yet filling and nutritional.

A grilled cheese sandwich divided into four mini sandwiches.Today It Is Still A Staple

Today, grilled cheese sandwiches, and all its variations, can be found on menus ranging from local delis to five-star Michelin restaurants! Experiments have led people to try various breads, different kinds of cheese, and even incorporating meat into the sandwich. Grilled cheese might be a fan favorite amongst kids, it is no stranger to adults who enjoy this comfort food. It is quite popular to pair a grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of warm tomato soup.

Although the exact origin of the grilled cheese sandwich remains a mystery, you cannot deny its influence it has on the American diet. It has been around for over 100 years and we guess it will still be a favorite for the next 100 years, too. The next time you choose to have lunch at Loukinens’ On Fourth, try our grilled cheese special, The Cheesy, which includes layers of American, provolone, Fresh mozzarella and Muenster cheeses on crisp, buttery, grilled white bread. For questions about our menu, contact us today.

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