Crispy bread and melted cheese. How can something that tastes so good be this simple? Welcome to National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day on April 12!
What’s the secret?
We asked Aaron Christenson, the owner of a small Central Oregon restaurant which won a recent readers’ poll in the categories of “Best Kids Menu” and “Best Family Restaurant.”
“A perfect grilled cheese has to have a super crispy exterior, brushed with garlic oil. Lots of melty cheese in the center. Thick cut, handmade bread is a must!”
And there you have it.
Now get grilling.
History of National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day
Food historians and experts tell us that cultures around the world have been enjoying cheese on bread since ancient times. The modern grilled cheese sandwich that we enjoy today originated in the 1920s.
While we don’t know the creator of grilled cheese sandwiches, we owe its success to Otto Frederick Rohwedder, who invented the bread slicer during the Industrial Revolution. His invention made dividing bread into even slices easier and more affordable. Luckily, shortly before the bread slicer was perfected, James L. Kraft created processed cheese. This meant that cheese could be transported over long distances and not spoil. Each significant in their own way, both inventions revolutionized sandwiches forever!
So who was the genius behind grilling the combination of cheese and bread to create the grilled cheese sandwich? According to government-issued cookbooks, surprisingly it is the American Navy who thought of it or, at the very least, were the first to publish the recipe. Hundreds of “American cheese-filled sandwiches” were prepared by Navy chefs for military personnel during World War II.
The term ‘grilled cheese’ was coined in the 1960s when the second slice of bread was added to the top of grilled cheese. Other popular names were cheese toasty and toasted cheese sandwiches.
National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day timeline
One of the earliest references to melted cheese sandwiches is featured in Sarah Tyson Rorer’s “Mrs. Rorer’s New Cookbook.”
The ‘Croque Monsieur’ (consisting of toasted bread, ham, and cheese) hits the menus in France.
Otto Frederick Rohwedder designs a bread-slicing machine.
In the movie, the character of Sam, played by Johnny Depp, prepares a stack of grilled cheese sandwiches using a clothes iron.
Grilled Cheese By The Numbers
300 — the number of calories in a grilled cheese sandwich.
$28,000 — the price a grilled cheese sandwich was once sold for.
¾ — the fraction of the number of people who purchase sliced cheese and make at least one grilled cheese sandwich a month.
47 — the world record for eating the most grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes.
2.2 billion — the number of grilled cheese sandwiches eaten by Americans per year.
National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day FAQs
How many grilled cheeses are eaten in a year?
Americans notoriously consume a whopping 2.2 billion grilled cheese sandwiches every year.
How was the first grilled cheese made?
Grilled cheese sandwiches were first made open-faced and grated cheese was used.
What percentage of people eat grilled cheese?
86% of Americans have consumed at least one grilled cheese sandwich in the past year.
National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day Activities
Make a sandwich
There is no better way to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day than by getting your grilled cheese on. Bread, butter, cheese, go!
Cut some grilled cheese sandwiches into cute little triangles and put them on a warm platter next to a plate of “finger food” veggies for perfect party munchies. You could even set up a pot of cheese fondue and a platter of toasted bread so everyone makes their own melty cheese sandwiches at the table.
Make a romantic meal for two
Grill your significant other’s favorite cheese sandwich for a warm and gooey surprise romantic dinner. Give yourself points for picking the right wine (or craft beer) to pair with it.
5 Surprising Facts About Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
The secret ingredient
Mayo is the secret sauce that makes a grilled cheese sandwich creamy from the inside.
The original name
Grilled cheese sandwiches were originally called a Cheese Dream.
A grilled cheese sandwich is often accompanied by tomato soup.
The Ancient Romans were the first civilization to bake bread and combine it with cheese.
Grilled cheese customs
In Switzerland, it is customary to toast the bread and melt the cheese separately before combining them.
Why We Love National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day
Ultimate comfort food
Grilled cheese sandwiches remind us of having our moms make us grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch; then, being a little older and craving something warm, and deciding that grilled cheese counts as cooking.
They go well with everything
Grilled cheese and tomato soup is the most classic combination, but this sandwich seems to go well with everythinoup, salad, milkshakes — the salty sandwich makes any meal better.
They offer an opportunity to explore the cheese case
However it is set up – by texture, by country, by variety – that cheese case is your friend. Go through it systematically and make cheese combinations that will elevate your grilled cheese experience.
National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day dates
National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day Featured Video
The Cheesiest Way to Anyone's Heart