The History of Cheesecake and Cream Cheese

White chocolate cheesecake with brownie base
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Cheesecake is believed to have originated in ancient Greece. Historians say cheesecake was served to the athletes during the first Olympic Games held in 776 B.C. However, cheese making can be traced back as far as 2,000 B.C., according to anthropologists who have found cheese molds dating back to that period.

Alan Davidson, author of the Oxford Companion to Food, wrote "that cheesecake was mentioned in Marcus Porcius Cato's De re Rustica around 200 BCE and that Cato described making his cheese libum (cake) with results very similar to modern cheesecake."

The Romans spread cheesecake from Greece across Europe. Centuries later cheesecake appeared in America, the recipes brought over by immigrants.

Cream Cheese

Cream cheese was invented in 1872 by American dairyman William Lawrence of Chester, New York, who accidentally developed a method of producing cream cheese while trying to reproduce a French cheese called Neufchatel. In 1880 Lawrence started distributing his cream cheese in foil wrappers under the name of the Empire Cheese Co. of South Edmeston, New York, where he manufactured the product. He called his cheese Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese, now a famous trademark.

In 1903, the Phoenix Cheese Co. of New York bought the business and with it the Philadelphia trademark. The brand was bought by the Kraft Cheese Co. in 1928. Kraft Foods still owns and produces Philadelphia Cream Cheese today.

James L. Kraft invented pasteurized cheese in 1912, which led to the development of pasteurized Philadelphia Brand cream cheese. It is now the most popular cheese used for making cheesecake today.

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