Boiling Point: Mother of cheese ball

Jim Hillibish

I opened a box in our attic and discovered cheese glasses fondly collected by my mother.

It started in the 1930s. Kraft Foods invented a processed cheese but had no way to package it. In a flash of corporate genius, the execs decided to put it into collectable juice glasses.

The glasses, if not the cheese, were instant hits. I’m sure many shoppers were more intent on collecting the hardware than eating the software inside. Selecting a weekly cheese glass became a shopping must. I sometimes wondered if folks just threw the cheese away to get the glass.

The 5-ounce glasses are quite handy, perfect for breakfast juice. They get a good workout over their lives and are safe for youngsters and dishwashers. You can drop a cheese glass and it never shatters.

The success encouraged Kraft to try other glassware cheese adventures. Some of these celebrated history, such as the Texas Centennial Swanky Swigs. These became collectables and sell for $40 or more.

Kraft soon was pumping out millions of cheese glasses. It took 50 years for the thrill to wear off. Quite possibly, America ran out of kitchen cabinet space. You’d never throw one away, but do you really need five dozen juice glasses?

The standard cheese glasses are worthless, but if you have one with a star imprint, this is a Kraft 50th anniversary glass. It’s worth –– don’t hold your breath –– five bucks.

Inside, folks found a processed cheese Kraft calls Neufchatel. This was a close cousin to Philadelphia Cream Cheese but more soft and spreadable because of lower fat and higher moisture content.

The cheese originally arrived in pimento flavor. Kraft added a sharper Olde English and a tart Rokka Blue. Plain Neufchatel, available in Velveeta-type loaves, is a favorite in commercial cheesecakes.

You can still find cheese glasses hidden in the dairy coolers of larger stores. The cost is approaching $3 for 5 ounces. Philly cheese became a competitor with their whipped version in a trashy plastic container.

There was one way to get rid of all that cheese piling up with your glasses. Enter the cheese ball, now ubiquitous on party tables.

News flash: Kraft may be reworking the cheese glass. A new model was spotted recently in Dubai. It has a cap on the bottom and is made of plastic. Oh well, it’s the end of a cheesy era.

Party Cheese Ball

  • 8 ounces Neufchatel or cream cheese
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1⁄2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 3⁄4 cup fresh parsley, chopped  

Combine cheeses, mustard, Worcestershire and garlic powder in a mixer bowl and beat on low speed just until well mixed. Stir in the pecans. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Refrigerate the cheese mixture for 30 minutes or until lightly firm, then shape into a ball. Roll in the chopped parsley, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

-- Kraft Foods

Jim’s note: I don’t know ... a green cheese ball? I’d rather add the parsley to the cheese and roll the ball in pecans.