1976 Kraft Singles launched

Australian Women's Weekly advertising

The best thing since sliced bread was sliced cheese. Kraft Singles, individually wrapped slices of processed cheddar were launched in Australia in 1976. Various varieties are now available. An attempt was made in the 1990s to combine two leading Kraft products in the form of Vegemite Singles. The Vegemite-flavoured cheese slices did not prove popular and were taken off the market.

Before there were Kraft Singles there were Kraft slices. Originally marketed in America as Kraft Deluxe Slices, they were introduced there in 1950.  To make the slices, the processed cheese was rolled through a mill into a ribbon, then cut into three-inch (7.5cm) squares. The squares were then stacked together and packaged.

Unfortunately, the slices clung together and were difficult to separate. It appears many people didn’t understand that what appeared as a single block could be pulled apart, and store managers had to show their customers that they were slices. There was also the problem of stopping slices from drying out once the pack was opened.

These problems were eventually solved by wrapping each slice in plastic film. Kraft Singles were introduced in the USA in around 1965 but took another 11 years to make it to Australia.

In 2017, in Australia, Kraft Singles were re-branded as Dairylea Slices after Bega Cheese acquired the majority of Mondelez International’s Australia and New Zealand grocery and cheese business. However, it appears that Kraft re-entered the market with its own product in competition with Bega.

Of course, according to America’s Food and Drug Administration, Kraft Singles aren’t actually cheese. The FDA standards hold that a food can only be identified as cheese if contains at least 51 per cent real cheese. And they don’t. So they’re labelled as a “pasteurised prepared cheese product”.

The Kraft product here proudly asserts that it contains at least 45% cheese. The ingredient list reads:

Milk, Water, Milk Solids, Mineral Salts (331, 341, 339), Cream or Butter or Milk Fat, Salt, Food Acid (270), Preservatives (200, 235), Starter Culture, Enzymes, Colours (160a, 160b), Contains Cheese 45% minimum. One slice provides 209 kilojoules (or about 50 calories).

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