American Cheese (1994)

By | 1 September 2023

I like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, especially the cartoon shapes like Animaniacs, but my friend loves Velveeta because it looks just like the commercial — like waves of flowing yellow lava, like Jello pudding, except cheese. I find Velveeta cheese gross. Why does it taste like plastic? Why is it gooey, like snot? That friend also has the Kraft American Cheese slices, the kind in individual pieces of plastic you have to pick and peel at awkwardly with your fingernails to unwrap. Mom refuses to buy Kraft American Cheese slices because they are too expensive, my four siblings and I will eat them too quickly. When I’m sleeping over at that friend’s house and I get hungry in the night–I am always hungry in the night, and in the day too–I go to my friend’s fridge, snatch a slice and then sit on the toilet. I fold the cheese into tiny squares I pop in my mouth, one by one. Imagine myself a small, organised rodent. Back home, hot dogs shot through with neon orange cheese. I eat them straight out of the fridge, cold cheese squishing between my teeth, and my fingers smell like hot dogs when I go to bed. And then there is EZ-Cheese, which I spray into my mouth straight from the nozzle like Pauly Shore in A Goofy Movie, although I also sometimes eat it normally, on crackers. I microwave that hunk of Costco cheddar, nuked to crisp corners, a soft pool of grease in the centre of the bowl. Jab and twist at it with my fork, unfurling strands of radioactive orange. Actual string cheese? I peel into the thinnest, stringiest strips possible. In my school lunch, I have that, and Kraft Handi Snacks. I run out of the cheese spread for the Handi-Snacks halfway through, and throw the rest of the crackers away, even though I’m still hungry. Scoop the dirt from my nails with the red plastic cheese spreader stick. But on the best days, we get Cheez-Its, the supreme cheese crackers by far. Shoving our dirty hands in the box while we watch Hook on VHS, competing for bursting handfuls, faster, faster, until mom takes the box or it’s all gone. Cheese Nips are rip-off Cheez-its and they taste like rip-offs, but they’re better than nothing. Better Cheddars are light and round, which is a nice change from all the square crackers, but the flavour is weak, so you forget they’re even cheese. I could eat a ham and cheese hot pocket for every meal, even though I always burn my mouth out. There’s nothing worse than Goldfish crackers. Only babies like them. Pizza Hut is my favourite pizza, especially the oozing hot cheese-filled crust, which I have choked on more than once, but it’s worth it.


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